More juvenile girls commit assaults, judge says |

More juvenile girls commit assaults, judge says

More and more girls are being charged with assault — a statistic that Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill Jr. called Tuesday “a chilling trend.”

In a speech paying tribute to Lydia’s Place — a Pittsburgh nonprofit organization that runs programs for women in jail — Cohill yesterday noted the increase in assaults by females.

He said that since 1980, aggravated assaults have increased 121 percent for juvenile females in contrast to a 28 percent increase for males. And the weapons-offense arrest rates among juveniles have increased 121 percent for females compared to a 28 percent increase for males.

Cohill, who was an Allegheny County Common Pleas juvenile judge for 11 years before he went to the federal bench, cited statistics compiled by the National Center for Juvenile Justice in Pittsburgh. He and other judges established the center 30 years ago.

The center is the research arm of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which tracks social changes.

“In a country where women are increasingly involved in violent-person crimes — but at the same time are involved in raising children — to me this reinforces the need for an organization like Lydia’s Place,” Cohill said at a breakfast meeting at Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown.

Among its programs, Lydia’s Place runs parenting classes; re-entry-to-society programs for women in jail; and family reunification and support services after an inmate’s release.

During his 38 years on the state and federal benches, Cohill said, he has seen the drug problem explode. He said that most “female-type offenses” — such as shoplifting and prostitution — “are all-too-often committed by women on drugs.”

“If a category were created called ‘drug-related crimes,’ I think the numbers would be staggering,” Cohill said.

In June, 11,702 women were incarcerated in federal prisons, Cohill said.

Although judges only can recommend to the federal Bureau of Prisons where a defendant serves a sentence, Cohill said he nearly always recommends that a female prisoner be placed in an institution as close to her home as possible.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.