In 1996, Rhode Island's youth population under age 18 was approximately 235,300 (Casey Foundation 1998).
Of the State's children, approximately 6 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 17 percent of Rhode Island's children under age 13 were living in working-poor families or families where at least one parent was working 50 or more hours a week but the family's income was still below the poverty level (Casey Foundation 1998).
Rhode Island ranked 16th in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was approximately 27 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 21 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998). From 1988-92, the birth rate in the State for young women ages 14-18 averages 57.1 for every 1,000 girls. Of this figure, the birth rate was 161.5 for African-American young women, 163.9 for Native Americans, 85.7 for Hispanics, 61 for Asian Americans, and 51.5 for Anglos. In 1994, there were 1,460 births to teenage girls 13-19, and one out of ten of these was to a single young woman (Rhode Island Kids Count 1996, p. 32).
Overview of the Juvenile Justice System
In Rhode Island, the Family Court handles all criminal cases involving juvenile offenders, all cases involving juvenile status offenders, and all neglect and abuse cases of children. All cases referred to the court are reviewed by the court's Intake Unit, which reviews referral source documents to determine the youth's needs and then makes specific recommendations to the court (Rhode Island Governor's Justice Commission 1995a, p. 36).
The State Department for Children and Their Families (DCF) is responsible for public safety and for providing appropriate placements and services for juvenile offenders in the State. Specifically, the Department's mission is to "mobilize the human, physical, and financial resources available to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive and integrated statewide program of services designed to ensure the opportunity for children to reach their full potential" (Rhode Island Governor's Justice Commission 1995a, p. 36). To this end, DCF operates a child welfare program, a mental health services program, and a juvenile corrections program. Under the juvenile corrections program, DCF provides a myriad of prevention and intervention services and placement at the State's only secure placement, Training School for Youth (Rhode Island Governor's Justice Commission 1995, p. 37).
The Formula Grants Program in Rhode Island is handled by the Governor's Justice Commission.
Offense Patterns and Processing of Juvenile Female Offenders
The following statistics give an overview of the information available on female offending and processing patterns in Rhode Island:
Rhode Island has used its Challenge Activity funds to develop a program in the Rhode Island Training School.
The STRIDES program focuses on substance abuse treatment, parenting skills, sexual abuse prevention, self-esteem development, and issues impacting victims of the incarcerated offenders' crimes through a Restorative Justice Model. Once the girls are released from the training school, the STRIDES program continues to meet with and monitor them during their probation.
Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Data Service. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.
Poe-Yamagata, E., and J.A. Butts. 1996. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System: Statistics Summary. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Rhode Island Governor's Justice Commission. 1995a. Rhode Island 1995 Challenge Activity E Application. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Rhode Island Governor's Justice Commission. 1995b. Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Three Year Plan Update for 1995. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Rhode Island Kids Count. 1996. 1996 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook. The Rhode Island Foundation, Providence, RI.