In 1996, Wisconsin's youth population under age 18 was approximately 1,343,000 (Casey Foundation 1998).
Of the State's children, approximately 4 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 21 percent of Wisconsin'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).
Wisconsin ranked 10th in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was approximately 23 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 22 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998).
In 1992-93, the dropout rate for Wisconsin public schools was 3.15 percent (7,545 students). This was up slightly from 3 percent (7,001 students) in 1991-92 (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1995, p. 13).
Overview of the Juvenile Justice System
In the State of Wisconsin, the Juvenile Court has exclusive jurisdiction over all cases involving youth from age 10 to 17 who are alleged to be delinquent (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1996, p. 1). The court also has exclusive jurisdiction over youth under age 10 who are alleged to be in need of protection (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1996, p. 2). Therefore, in delinquency cases, it is the juvenile court judge who determines disposition placements and services for all juvenile offenders (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1996, p. 4).
In Wisconsin, the Department of Corrections (DOC) is responsible for maintaining appropriate dispositional placements for juvenile offenders. Specifically, the Bureau of Residential Services of the Division of Juvenile Services of DOC is responsible for the operation of the State's three secure, residential placements: the Lincoln Hills School (240 beds for males), the Ethan Allan School (30 beds for males), and the Southern Oaks Facility (45 beds for females) (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1996, p. 6). The Division of Juvenile Services also operates other programs, such as a boot camp and several aftercare programs for juvenile offenders (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1996, p. 7).
Beyond the division's services, Wisconsin operates as a county-administered, State-supervised juvenile justice system. Therefore, programs for youth are planned and administered by local units of government, specifically county Social Service Departments. These county departments are also responsible for providing secure detention services (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1996, p. 7).
The Formula Grants Program for the State is housed in the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance.
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 Wisconsin:
Approach to Female Offenders
Historically, in Wisconsin, juvenile female offenders in need of long-term secure placements were housed in one of the State's two juvenile correctional facilities, Ethan Allan or Lincoln Hills. In 1994, the Southern Oaks facility was opened with 45 beds designed to serve female offenders, and both Ethan Allan and Lincoln Hills became all-male facilities (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1997, p. 6).
While the Southern Oaks Facility already operates several gender-specific programs for young women as part of the facility culture, the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, through Challenge Activity E funds, is promoting the formation of a resource and learning center that would allow staff at the facility to better meet the specific needs of the population. This center would house basic resource materials and computer equipment designed to serve both the female offenders and staff. Specifically, the center would focus on social skills improvement, individual confidence team building skills, gender-specific learning, and physical development (Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance 1997, p. 8).
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.
Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance. 1995. Wisconsin 1995 Update to 1994-96 Juvenile Justice Plan. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance. 1996. Wisconsin 1996 Update to 1994-96 Juvenile Justice Plan. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance. 1997. Wisconsin 1997 Challenge Activity E Grant Application. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.