Over the past 20 years, there's been a promising decline in arrests of youths in the United States. The reasons for the drop are elusive, but one factor might be a renewed interest within the juvenile justice system in paying better attention to child welfare before kids are drawn to crime. States are also seeking alternatives to traditional punishment once kids are in the system.
But a new report out this weekfinds that for young girls, the trend is going in the opposite direction. The proportion of girls in the juvenile justice system has increased at every stage of the process over the last 20 years, from arrests to detention and probation.
National Women's Law Center/ National Crittenton Foundation
The report's authors, Boston College law professor Francine Sherman and Annie Balck, a policy consultant at the National Juvenile Justice Network, attribute the gender gap to the juvenile justice system's long-standing "protective and paternalistic" approach to dealing with delinquent girls. The system tends to detain girls, the authors write, because they're seen as needing protection. It's a strategy that is ill-suited to the personal histories of trauma, physical violence, and poverty that lead many girls into bad behavior. Even when the system acknowledges these factors, there are limited options available beyond traditional arrests and detention.
This report highlights several disparities in the treatment of girls in the system. For instance, there's a gender gap in the detention of girls for low-level crimes: Nearly 40 percent of detained girls were brought in on status offenses (behavior that is only illegal when you're under 18), compared with just 25 percent of boys.
National Women's Law Center/ National Crittenton Foundation
Among girls in the system, there's also stark racial inequity. In 2013, African American girls, the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice population, were 20 percent more likely to be detained than white girls, while American Indian girls were 50 percent more likely.
The authors also argue that detention is uniquely harmful to youths, and can lead to catastrophic consequences for girls. One study cited in the report found that girls who had been detained were five times more likely to die by age 29 than children who had not. For Latina girls, that likelihood increased—they were nine times more likely to die by age 29 than the general population. Detention is a drastic and developmentally incorrect measure to take, the report's authors maintain, because in most cases the crimes girls commit are the result of past trauma that isn't being properly addressed. Few have been found delinquent for more serious offenses such as assault.
The report cites a 2014 study of traumatic experiences in justice-involved youth. In the study, 31 percent of girls reported a personal experience of sexual violence in the home, 41 percent reported being physically abused, and 84 percent reported experiencing family violence. Girls reported having been sexually abused at a rate 4.4 times higher than boys.
"Greater restriction is rarely the answer and cannot address the violence and deprivation underlying so many girl offenses," write the authors. To reverse the growing gender gap in juvenile justice, they say, "systems must craft reforms that directly address the root causes of their behavior and provide an alternate, non-justice-system path for girls' healthy development and healing."
Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina at the GOP primary debate on September 16
During last week's Republican presidential debate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina described the doctored Planned Parenthood sting videos that have spurred the ongoing effort by congressional Republicans to defund the women's health care provider. Her voice rising, she recounted a grisly scene: "I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."
The audience erupted in applause. Fox News called it "the moment of the night." The only problem? None of what she described ever happened in the heavily edited videos. (Though this week, Fiorina's super-PAC created its own version of the previously nonexistent video.) She went on to make many more inaccurate assertions during the debate. But her delivery was confident and eloquent: Fiorina won, and in the last week she has surged in the polls. In a recent CNN poll, she's second in the GOP presidential field, inching up behind Donald Trump.
As it turns out, Fiorina's tendency to embellish—or altogether avoid—the facts goes back much farther than last week's debate. Below is a partial compilation of some of her less-than-truthful moments:
1. Claim: Fiorina was not fired from her job at Hewlett-Packard because of performance.
Facts: In February 2005, Fiorina was dismissed from her post as CEO of HP by a board of directors that she's since called "dysfunctional." At the time, she roundly told reporters that the firing was not about performance. She struck a similar note in her 2006 memoir, Tough Choices, writing that after more than five years leading HP, by December 2004 she had pulled the company toward success. She cited a strong fourth quarter, despite a third-quarter "stumble." In fact, the stumble was an enormous shortfall: HP missed its earnings projections that quarter by 23 percent. "When companies miss by a few pennies, it doesn't mean all that much," the New York Times wrote of Fiorina in 2006. "When companies miss by 23 percent, Wall Street starts wondering if the people at the top have a clue as to what's going on in the various businesses." The Times also pointed out at the time that although Fiorina wrote in her memoir that HP missed its numbers on her watch only three times, "in fact, the company fell short at least nine times on either revenue, profit or both."
2. Claim: The Securities and Exchange Commission investigated allegations of HP's violations of the Iran embargo and cleared HP management of any knowledge of the problem.
Facts: Last week, several news outlets reported that Fiorina was CEO of HP when the company allegedly sold products to Iran via a third-party company in Dubai, potentially in violation of US-Iran sanctions. When conservative radio host Sean Hannity questioned Fiorina about the allegations last Friday, she said, "The SEC did a thorough investigation and concluded that no one in management, myself included, knew anything about it."
In fact, there's no evidence that an SEC investigation of the allegations ever happened. The SEC did inquire about the company's Iran dealings in a 2009 letter, after Fiorina had left the company. But there's no evidence that a ruling clearing management of any knowledge was ever issued. What's more, in their response letter to the SEC, HP indicated that management was aware of the Dubai-based company Redington Gulf's sales of HP products to Iran, but that such sales were legal under US law.
3. Claim: Fiorina told Fox News host Chris Wallace last week that Redington Gulf was "not honest" with HP about selling HP products to Iran, a potential violation of US-Iran sanctions.
Facts: Redington Gulf was open about its sales of HP products to Iran. The company issued a press release in 2003 saying that its relationship with HP began in 1997 to focus on "one market—Iran."
4. Claim: Buying a semi-automatic weapon in the United States is illegal.
Facts: In 2010, Fiorina ran for the Senate in California against three-term incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer. During their first debate, the moderator asked Fiorina why she opposed reinstatement of the federal ban on assault weapons. She responded with several inaccurate points: "First of all, you know, assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons are not the same thing," Fiorina said. "It's a definitional issue. There are—but here's the important point: It's illegal today to be buying semi-automatic weapons."
In fact, it is very much legal to buy semi-automatic weapons in the United States. The AR-15, one of the most popular guns in America, is semi-automatic. Congress did ban the sale of fully automatic weapons (also known as machine guns) in 1986. Also, in contrast to Fiorina's claim, the vast majority of assault weapons—a term defined in the now-expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban—are semi-automatic, though gun rights advocates dislike the term. They argue that many typical sporting rifles are also semi-automatic, so "assault weapon" is a misleading, politicized term that should instead be used to describe fully automatic weapons.
5. Claim: Taxpayers can fund "virtually any" abortion.
Facts: During her 2010 Senate debate against California incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, the moderator asked Fiorina about her views on abortion. "I understand that this is an emotional issue for many women," she responded. "I happen to be pro-life. Barbara Boxer holds a very extreme view: that taxpayers should pay for virtually any abortion, any time, anywhere, for any reason." In fact, the Hyde Amendment, which Boxer supported as a "good compromise," prohibits using federal dollars to fund most abortions, unless the pregnancy arises from rape, incest, or the abortion is needed to save the life of the mother.
6. Claim: Fiorina's second husband picked her out of "the secretarial pool."
Facts: During a town hall in New Hampshire over Labor Day weekend, Fiorina described meeting Frank Fiorina. "It was a long time ago in the technology world and there weren't that many people actually who took a young woman from the secretarial pool all that seriously. And he did—so I had to fall in love and marry him." But as the Washington Post points out, Fiorina was not a secretary when they met. She was working in government communications at AT&T. Her future husband was in a higher position and took interest in one of her ideas.
7. Claim: Thanks to Fiorina's leadership, HP became the world's first $100 billion IT company.
Facts: Fiorina's 2010 Senate campaign website trumpeted her achievements as HP's CEO, saying that she "positioned HP to become the first $100 billion information technology company." HP did become the first IT company to reach $100 billion in sales, but not until 2007—several years after Fiorina's departure and during the tenure of CEO Mark Hurd. Fiorina's presidential campaign says her leadership in the years leading up to this milestone—particularly the Compaq merger she orchestrated—was key to reaching the $100 billion mark. But the merger was widelydeemed a failure, rather than a financial boon for the company.
8. Claim: As president, Fiorina would not negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Facts: During her presidential run, Fiorina has repeatedly said that, as president, she would completely avoid negotiations with Putin. "Russia is a bad actor," Fiorina said during last week's primary debate. "Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control." But before being so tough on Putin, Fiorina expressed being very impressed with his leadership in Russia. As the Daily Beast points out, Fiorina met Putin in 2001, at the APEC CEO summit in Beijing. Both of them were slotted to give speeches, and Fiorina—then CEO of HP—spoke immediately before Putin. She talked about how Putin had led Russia through a dramatic transition to democracy. "Hewlett-Packard has been at the center of a lot of change in our 62-year history. But President Putin was elected president in the first democratic transition in Russia in 1,000 years," Fiorina said. "Talk about giving new meaning to the word 'invent.'" The Fiorina campaign disagreed with this interpretation, telling the Daily Beast that this was merely "a fairly banal statement of fact."
Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina at the GOP primary debate on September 16
During the latest GOP primary debate on September 16, Carly Fiorina described a video that shows "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." Many news reports have pointed out that no such video seems to exist—it's not among the heavily edited Center for Medical Progress videos released this summer, nor is it anywhere else.
On September 19, the super-PAC backing Fiorina's candidacy, Carly for America, posted a video to its YouTube page that appears to be a home-brewed version of the previously nonexistent video. The clip is called "Character of Our Nation," a quote from Fiorina's statements during the debate, when she said defunding Planned Parenthood "is about the character of our nation."*
In an email sent out yesterday, Planned Parenthood pointed out that the video appears to be a heavily edited selection of five separate audio and video clips, spliced together "to try to concoct the video that she claimed existed" during the debate. Several of the clips, Planned Parenthood said, come from the doctored Center for Medical Progress sting videos released this summer that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal organs for profit—a criminal allegation that state after state has found to be false.
One of the clips comes from the Grantham Collection, an anti-abortion archive that has been discredited by pro-choice advocates, in part for making false allegations about the content of benign photos. For instance, the group claimed that a photo of basic medical tongs is an image of the tool used to pull apart the limbs of an aborted fetus.
Planned Parenthood wrote a letter to the Fiorina campaign yesterday, asking it to take down the composite video.
In response to a request for comment on the veracity of the video, Fiorina campaign spokeswomen Sarah Isgur Flores wrote in an email, "Carly is a cancer survivor and doesn't need to be lectured on women's health by anyone. Over their long and factually incorrect letter, Planned Parenthood doesn't and can't deny they butchering babies and selling their organs [sic]. This is about the character of our nation."
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the group that posted the video.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during the GOP primary debate on September 16, 2015.
In 1996, then-Congressman John Kasich cosponsored a welfare reform bill that, for the first time ever, put a time limit on recipients' access to food stamps. Healthy, childless adults would be able to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for no more than three months in any three-year period, unless they were employed or in a training program for at least 20 hours a week. When Congress balked at a rule that would cause an estimated 1 million people to lose food aid each month, Kasich added an exception that would allow states to seek time-limit waivers for areas with especially high unemployment.
Twenty years later, in his second term as Ohio's governor, the GOP presidential hopeful is taking advantage of these waivers, as most governors have done. But Ohio civil rights groups and economic analysts say Kasich's administration is using the waivers unequally: It applies for waivers in some regions of the state but refuses them in others, in a pattern that has disproportionately protected white communities and hurt minority populations.
"The Kasich administration could have addressed the racial inequity in 2016," says Wendy Patton, a senior project director at Policy Matters Ohio, an economic policy research nonprofit, who has written extensively on the state's recent food stamp waiver policy. "The Kasich administration chose not to. The state should broaden its request to encompass all places and regions where jobs are scarce and people are hungry."
In 2014, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) had the option to waive time limits on food stamps for the entire state. Due to a struggling economy and high unemployment, Ohio had qualified for and accepted this statewide waiver from the US Department of Agriculture every year since 2007, including during most of Kasich's first term as governor. But this time, Kasich rejected the waiver for the next two years in most of the state's 88 counties. His administration did accept them for 16 counties in 2014 and for 17 counties in 2015. Most of these were rural counties with small and predominantly white populations. Urban counties and cities, most of which had high minority populations, did not get waivers.
"The Kasich administration could have addressed the racial inequity in 2016...The Kasich administration chose not to."
The decision would result in a drastic downsizing of food aid in the state, but the administration moved with surprising speed given the enormity of the impact. "It was really fast," says Kate McGarvey, deputy director of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. In August 2013, she says, the legal services community had heard that Ohio qualified for a statewide waiver, and was setting up meetings with the ODJFS to discuss how the state might proceed. "Within a week or two, we were told, 'It's going to be a partial waiver, it's already been submitted, it's done,'" McGarvey says. "No advocates that I know of were given a chance to give feedback on the wisdom of the partial waiver."
The policy went into effect in October 2013. By January—the three-month mark where those without waivers began losing their food stamps if they couldn't meet the work requirement—it had become clear that the policy had spawned a stark racial disparity in food aid. Across the 16 counties the state had selected for waivers, about 94 percent of food stamp recipients were white. Overall in Ohio in December 2013—immediately before the new policy's effects began to surface—food stamp recipients were 65 percent white.
By March 2014, six months into the new system, the six counties with the highest rate of terminating food stamps for able-bodied, childless adults were all counties populated mostly by minorities.
Within a few months of the system's implementation, food pantries began to see an increase in their numbers of clients. "Nearly 140,000 people have been removed from the food stamp program since October 2013," says Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, which has gathered data on thousands of adults in Ohio who have lost their food stamps. "We believe that the majority of them were removed for inability to meet the work requirement. And they are turning to our agencies to get food. More people are going to soup kitchens and homeless shelters, begging, panhandling, and dumpster diving. It's not a good scene."
Six months into the new system, the six counties with the highest rate of terminating food stamps for able-bodied, childless adults were all counties populated mostly by minorities.
A USDA study released earlier this month ranked Ohio among the worst states in the nation for food security. The state has the highest rate of food insecurity in the Midwest and the sixth highest rate nationally.
In the summer of 2014, several legal organizations, including Columbus Legal Aid, filed a civil complaint against Ohio with the USDA, formally alleging that the state's rejection of waivers across the state disproportionately hurt minority populations. "Without any compelling reason, this decision, and its approval by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)…has unfairly made access to nutrition assistance more difficult for many minority Ohioans," the organizations wrote in their letter.
The ODJFS' waiver decision seemed to have little basis in math. Seventy-five percent of Ohio's minorities live in just eight of the state's 88 counties. None of those counties got a waiver, even though several of them have higher unemployment rates than counties that did get waivers, notes the civil complaint. "I've never seen the math that illustrates how they came up with these 16 to begin with," says McGarvey, one of the authors of the civil complaint. "When we looked at the data, what we saw was that if they were just cutting it off at the 16 highest unemployment counties, purely using a mathematical formula, those would not have been the 16."
"I've never seen the math that illustrates how they came up with these 16 to begin with."
"It was not a mathematical selection," says Patton. She explains that in 2016, the ODJFS said it would give waivers to counties whose two-year average unemployment rate was greater than 120 percent of the national unemployment rate during the same period. But the agency rounded county unemployment rates to two decimal points instead of one, as the USDA requires, effectively eliminating some counties from eligibility by mere hundredths of a point.
When asked to clarify the ODJFS method for selecting counties over the last three years, ODJFS spokesman Ben Johnson told Mother Jones, "The employment and training requirement does not deny anyone SNAP benefits. Rather, the requirement ensures that able-bodied adults without dependent children receive both SNAP benefits and education, job training, or volunteer or work experience...We have used the same methodology and calculated unemployment rates the same way each year."
In 2016, Ohio will continue its narrow waiver policy. Though the state will no longer be eligible for a statewide waiver of food stamp time limits because its overall unemployment has improved beyond the eligibility threshold, up to 34 counties and 10 cities will remain eligible. The state excluded the cities from its request and will waive time limits for just 18 counties—most, again, in places that are rural and white.
It's unclear whether Kasich's administration is turning a blind eye to the racial disparity intentionally. But the policy continued even after its disparate impact was revealed over the last two years.
"I haven't seen any evidence to show that it was intentional," McGarvey of Legal Aid says. "But certainly at this point they know what the impact has been."
Rosa Parks arrives at court to be arraigned for the racial bus boycott in 1956.
At the end of last night's GOP debate, moderator Jake Tapper asked the candidates which woman they would choose to put on the $10 bill. Several of the 11 candidates on stage named their daughters or wives. Mike Huckabee awkwardly poked fun at his wife's spending habits in nominating her. "That way," he said, "she could spend her own money with her face!"
But Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump went for gravitas. All three picked Rosa Parks, the civil rights leader whose refusal to give up her seat sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, to be the first woman pictured on US paper currency. "An everyday American that changed the course of history," said Rubio. "She was a principled pioneer that helped change this country," noted Cruz, clarifying that he would put her on the $20 bill, in order to keep Founding Father Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.
The candidates are right that Parks was a "principled pioneer," but her advocacy went beyond racial justice. Later in life, Parks was an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood, and she even served on its board.
That's an inconvenient fact for the GOP candidates who have been eager to demonize Planned Parenthood. Throughout the debate, all of them repeatedly touted their pro-life records and vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. Cruz is currently leading the charge against Planned Parenthood in the Senate, threatening to shut down the government over a spending bill that includes federal funding for the women's health organization.
Cruz elaborated on that ongoing funding battle at the debate, honing in on the doctored sting videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal organs for profit—a criminal allegation that state after state has found to be false. "Absolutely we shouldn't be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise," Cruz said of Planned Parenthood. "And I'll tell you, the fact that Republican leadership in both houses has begun this discussion by preemptively surrendering to Barack Obama and saying, 'We'll give in because Obama threatens a veto.' We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles."