Over the past two decades, while juvenile incarceration rates have been decreasing, rates of incarcerated girls have either stayed the same, or increased.
In response, the Kitsap County Girls Court opened in June 2019 as Washington state’s first court system providing service just for girls.
A few months ago, I went to see Girls Court in action.
Girls Court is held in a small courtroom in Kitsap County. But despite the judicial setting, the day I visited, the atmosphere was light.
People were chatty, greeting one another with hugs and laughter. A snack cart sat by the door.
“After having, like, a bad day or something, knowing I am going to Girls Court kinda put me in a better mood,” said Hannah Rayfield, a 16-year-old who is one of just over 20 girls who have participated in the program since its opening.