LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 10, 2023) – Cicely J. Cottrell, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair of Criminal Justice Studies at Spalding University, has been awarded $127,341.00 in federal Title II grant monies administered by the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice to divert Black girls from the juvenile justice system.
Dr. Cottrell and Kim Frierson, DSW, Assistant Professor of Social Work, will develop and implement Sister’s Keeper Achieving Resilience and Success (SKARS), a culturally responsive, trauma-informed and restorative program for Black girls ages 12-17 residing in Jefferson County. In response to the needs of justice-involved Black girls in Jefferson County and their increasing complaints and detention rates, SKARS will provide diversion programming for Black girls through the Court Designated Worker’s Program. SKARS is designed to incorporate specific community-based advocacy tenets and intervention components that are effective in reducing risk and promoting well-being. To provide culturally responsive services, the program directors will select and train 20 Black female undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Spalding University to serve as advocates for the SKARS program.
Nationally, Black girls are three times more likely than White girls to be referred to the juvenile justice system (Hockenberry, 2018). The need for SKARS in Jefferson County is demonstrated by an increased rate of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) for Black girls. For example, in 2022, public complaints filed against Black girls for felony C complaints were 13 times the rate of White girls. Black girls received status offenses for habitual truancy and runaway at two times the rate of White girls. Black girls received 73% of complaints closed as youthful offender referrals in 2022, which increased by 17% from 2021 and decreased by 17% for White girls. Black girls also make up 80% of complaints to detention sought by law enforcement in 2022, which increased by 11% from 2021 in Jefferson County. The same complaints decreased for White girls by 11% from 2021 to 2022. Given that Black youth make up 30% of the population, compared to Whites (57%) and Hispanics (9%), this DMC must be addressed.
The inequities that Black girls face in various systems are interrelated and compounding (e.g., poverty, child welfare, school suspensions), all of which are magnified by implicit and explicit bias and the adultification of Black girls (Epstein et al., 2017). Collaborative and multi-systems work is needed to reduce Black girls’ vulnerability across communities and within systems (Brinkman et al., n.d). There is a need to better understand the inequities Black girls face in Jefferson County and to develop actionable steps to address the disparities. Dr. Cottrell is interested in connecting with individuals, community-based organizations, educational institutions, faith-based entities, and government entities that work with Black girls and acknowledge that their lives and experiences are unique within existing societal constructs. If you are one of these stakeholders and would like to participate in an interview to help us identify key strategies and challenges to support Black girls, please contact Dr. Cicely J. Cottrell at [email protected]. This grant is for activities between 10/1/2023 through 9/30/2024.
To read more about the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice grant, please visit: https://www.kentucky.gov/Pages/Activity-stream.aspx?n=Justice&prId=178.
Brinkman, B. G., Goodkind, S., Elliott, K., Joseph, A., & Doswell, W. M. (n.d.). Advocating for equity for black girls: the formation of the black girls equity alliance. Black Girls Equity Alliance, A Gwen’s Girls Initiative.
Epstein, R., Blake, J. J., Gonzalez, T. (2017). Girlhood interrupted: the erasure of black girls’ childhood. Center on Poverty and Inequality, Georgetown Law. https://genderjusticeandopportunity.georgetown.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2020/06/girlhood-interrupted.pdf
Hockenberry, S., and Puzzanchera, C. (2018). Juvenile court statistics 2016. Pittsburgh, PA: NCJJ.