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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Latinas Straddling the Prison Pipeline through Gender (Non) Conformity

  • Author(s): Caraves, Jacqueline
  • Advisor(s): Abrego, Leisy J
  • et al.

Using a Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) framework, this study centers the experiences of four formerly incarcerated Latinas in the juvenile justice system. The project takes a holistic look at the lives of the girls and their trajectory into the prison pipeline and their transition out of the pipeline as young women making sense of themselves and their place in the world. As women of color, they are overrepresented in the prison pipeline and face greater vulnerabilities than other girls and their male of color counterparts (Nanda 2012). Using a case study approach, this paper considers how gender performance and gender (non) conformity of racialized Latinas shape their trajectory into and out of the pipeline. Findings suggest that the transgression of prescribed female gender roles is what often funneled girls into the juvenile justice system. Yet, their gender transgressions, in the form of aggressiveness and violence, were often their means of coping with physical and emotional violence upon them. The girls in this study often move between non-conformity to gender conformity as a means to navigate out of the prison system.

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