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New York Judge John Hunt rails against disparate treatment of boys by probation department

May 29, 2012

boysBelow is one example of gender bias in the criminal justice system.  The bias is so pervasive that the story is about a single judge who decided to rebel against it.

 All of these things have consequences.  The boy who is treated more harshly than the girl gets a criminal record that reduces his likelihood of finishing high school, his prospects for getting into college, his opportunities for employment, and on and on to the grave.

 If the boy and girl are arrested a second time, the disparity in treatment becomes still wider because he is a “repeat offender” while her record was purged of the first offense.

 Add to this the gender bias in disciplinary matters inside schools and I am convinced that a large portion of the “male academic underachievement” is explained by disparate treatment of males and females in disciplinary matters.

 There is a significant effort to reduce over-criminalization of minority males but the bias is also gender driven, not just race driven, so programs that only address race are only addressing a part of the problem.

 Judged bashes Probation Department for gender bias in favor of leniency for girls

By Simone Weichselbaum and Thomas Zambito, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

A Queens judge is blasting the city’s Probation Department for going easier on teenage girls than boys – even when they commit the same crimes.

Family Court Judge John Hunt accused probation of gender bias for trying to spare all but the most violent girls from prison time and the scarlet letter of the juvenile delinquent.

Hunt analyzed the cases of eight teenagers who had come before him – four boys and four girls – and found that probation routinely recommended tougher treatment for boys.

Take Queens eighth-graders Stephen C. and Jennifer S.

The teens took part in the robbery of a boy who was punched, kicked and choked before having his iPod wrested away. Probation recommended that Stephen be put on supervised probation while Jennifer should have her case eventually dismissed.

Judge Hunt disagreed Monday and ordered both teens put on probation for 18 months.

“The court could find no cogent reason why Jennifer S. should be treated differently than her accomplice, Stephen C.,” Hunt wrote.

Hunt blamed a “seemingly bizarre, sterile and largely impersonal system” for the disparate treatment.

In an effort to trim the number of locked-up juveniles, the city partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice in 2003 to develop a computer-generated program that would take the guesswork out of probation officers’ recommendations.

A higher score on the Probation Assessment Tool (PAT) means a recommendation that could lead to eventual dismissal of charges. A lower score means probation or lockup, not to mention the juvenile delinquent tag.

Hunt claims PAT routinely rewards girls with 14 extra points for gender alone, while boys get 0.

“The system contains a built-in gender bias in favor of female delinquents,” Hunt writes.

Probation officials say the computer tool predicts the likelihood of a juvenile being rearrested based on a study of 763 similar cases.

“It is an assessment tool,” said Ryan Dodge, a probation spokesman. “The court can always go against it. It is not set in stone.”

Hunt said probation offered up no statistics to suggest boys were more likely to get in trouble again.

Thank you Judge Hunt! We know what you did took a great deal of courage. You too Mr. Weichselbaum and Mr. Zambito!


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2 Responses to New York Judge John Hunt rails against disparate treatment of boys by probation department

  1. BarbieLyn on June 7, 2012 at 12:49 PM


  2. Marcos_FA on June 6, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    I wanna live in the same city this judge lives 🙂

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