Francine Sherman is a Clinical Associate Professor at Boston College Law School
where she has been teaching Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights & Public Policy
for the past twenty years and where she founded and directs the Juvenile Rights Advocacy
Program. She speaks and writes widely about the juvenile justice system and, in
particular, about girls in the justice system. She has testified before Congress, served
on the U.S. Department of Justice National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women
focusing on children and teens victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault, and as
consultant to OJJDP’s National Girls Initiative. Her most recent report, Gender
Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls, provides a comprehensive
overview of the needs and pathways of girls into and through the justice system and
details a developmental approach to current juvenile justice reforms. She is also the
author of Detention Reform and Girls, a volume of the Pathways to Detention Reform series
published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2005), and Making Detention Reform Work for
Girls: Practice Guide #5 (Annie E. Casey Foundation). She is also the author of the book,
Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy and Practice (Wiley & Sons), and
“Justice for Girls: Are we Making Progress?” (UCLA Law Review). She is an ongoing
consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
on strategies to reduce the detention of girls nationally, and regularly consults with
national and local foundations and systems on issues related to girls in the justice
system. Her current research continues to explore a developmental approach to juvenile
justice for girls and young women and includes oral histories of young women with justice
system histories, qualitative research focusing on pregnant and parenting young women in
the juvenile justice system, and law and social science research with Impact Justice on
LBQ/GNCT girls detained for prostitution. 

Books and Reports


Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls (with Annie Balck), Boston College Law School Faculty Papers (2015)

Despite decades of attention, the proportion of girls in the juvenile justice system has increased...



Making Detention Reform Work for Girls: A Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform (with Richard A. Mendel and Angela Irvine) (2013)

Throughout the nation, court-involved girls frequently pose minimal risk to public safety but suffer with...



Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice (with Francine H. Jacobs) (2011)

This accessible, edited volume reflects the multiplisciplinary, multisectoral nature of juvenile justice, including chapters by...



Consent to Medical Treatment by Minors in Massachusetts: A Guide for Practitioners (2006)

This guide is designed for healthcare providers, social service agency employees, and other practitioners who...



Taking on the Challenge: Phase I of the Hyams Foundation Girls' Initiative (2006)

This report describes Phase I of The Hyams Foundation’s funding initiative for eight programs providing...




Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?, Criminal Justice (2013)

Social expectations that girls behave obediently, modestly, and cautiously result in the detention and incarceration...



Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?, UCLA Law Review (2012)

Over the course of more than a century, structural gender bias has been a remarkably...



Gender Matters in Juvenile Justice (with Meda Chesney-Lind), New York Law Journal (2010)


Reframing the Response: Girls in the Juvenile Justice System and Domestic Violence, Juvenile and Family Justice Today (2009)

This article provides an overview of the role gender plays in juvenile justice processing. It...



Access to Community Healthcare for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: Initial Lessons From the Massachusetts Health Passport Project, Women, Girls and Criminal Justice (2007)

From 2004-2010, the author directed the Massachusetts Health Passport Project (MHPP), aimed at facilitating continuous...


Contributions to Books


Children's Rights and Relationships: A Legal Framework (with Hon. Jay Blitzman), Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice (2011)

This chapter provides an overview of United States children’s law, framed both in terms of...



The Role of Gender in Youth Systems: Grace's Story (with Jessica H. Greenstone), Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice (2011)

This chapter —written from a legal and developmental perspective —describes the experiences of ‘‘Grace,’’ a...



The System Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Girls (with Lisa Goldblatt Grace), Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice (2011)

This chapter, which is written from the perspectives of law, public health, and social work,...

Promoting Justice for Girls in an Unjust System, Women and Girls in the Criminal Justice System, Policy Issues and Practice Strategies (2006)


Contributor, Justice by Gender: The Lack of Appropriate Prevention, Diversion, and Treatment Alternatives for Girls in the Justice System (2001)

Selected Professional Activities


Know the Law, National Girls Institute (2013)

A series of 11 "Know the Law" legal briefs posted to the National Girls Institute...

Advisory Board Member, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention National Girls Institute (2012-present) (2012)
Visiting Lecturer, Renmin University Law School, Comparative Law Program (2012)

Selected Presentations

Current Issues in State Law: How Policy Advocacy Can Benefit Girls, National Girls Initiative Roundtable, National Girls Initiative and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2015)

Provided overview material for national Roundtable of organizations working with girls in the juvenile justice...

Overview: Girls and the Juvenile Justice System, Girls in the Juvenile Justice System, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2015)

Presented on Policy for Girls and Young Women in the juvenile justice system.

Organizer and Presenter, Current Challenges in Detention Reform for Girls, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Inter-Site Conference (2014)
Roundtable Participant, High Risk Girls in High Risk Settings: What Have We Learned, What's Next, Society of Prevention Research 22nd Annual Meeting (2014)
Juvenile Justice Girls: Precursors, Outcomes, and Treatment Needs, Society of Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting (2014)

Served as legal discussant on systems for criminology and psychology researchers on causes and trajectories...