Tenuous borders: Girls transferred to adult court

Emily Gaarder, Joanne Belknap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


There are tremendous gaps in our theories and knowledge about girls who have committed crimes deemed so serious as to justify adult sentencing. This study is guided by a feminist approach to "give voice" to 22 girls incarcerated in a women's prison in the Midwest. Through in-depth interviews, the girls describe their lives before prison and their perceptions of being tried and convicted as adults. Consistent with other research on female offenders, these girls reported lives fraught with violence and victimization, sexism, racism, and economic marginalization. This study calls for a more careful and complex look at issues of victimization, agency, and responsibility among female offenders, particularly those proclaimed "adults" by the legal system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-517
Number of pages37
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2002


  • Court waivers
  • Delinquent girls
  • Feminist theory
  • Life course
  • Pathways


Dive into the research topics of 'Tenuous borders: Girls transferred to adult court'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this