One girl among 4,000 children in the custody of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families has galvanized advocates for juvenile justice reform and LGBT youth, reports NPR. A judge approved a rare request from the state’s child welfare agency to move the 16-year-old transgender girl to an adult women’s prison. She has not been charged with a crime, but the state says she’s too violent for a juvenile facility. Advocacy groups nationwide have criticized the move, saying prison is not the right place for a teen with a history of trauma.
Joette Katz, commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, has been the target of protests but stands by her decision. “She engaged in some of her typical — I hate to say typical — but some behaviors. Assaulting youth, grabbing hair, punching,” Katz says. “But the one that really was the final straw, frankly, was the one that occurred at the end of January.” That’s when “Jane Doe” fought and injured a staff member at a Massachusetts facility for girls. The girl has a long history of being sexually and physically abused. “The kind of abuse that she was apparently subjected to, or even witnessed, has a significant impact on the way these youth respond,” says John Tuell of the RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice. “This step that was taken by Connecticut puts this youth at higher risk for continued failure.”