Patricia Hernandez and Dr. José Alamillo
Most people understand that black and Latino men are more likely to be imprisoned, but few know that women of color have also been placed behind bars. The Ventura School for Girls was established in 1913 as a correctional facility for girls who committed serious offenses, ran away from home or were considered “sexually promiscuous”. Scholars who have studied the Zoot Suiters and Pachuco/as of the 1940s, have briefly mentioned the Ventura School for Girls but have failed to adequately examine the experiences of incarcerated Mexican American girls at this juvenile detention facility. My paper will examine the experiences of Mexican American girls at the Ventura School for Girls from its opening in 1913 to its closing in1962. I will be researching newspapers and conducting archival research at the Museum of Ventura County and the California Youth Authority Archives in Sacramento, CA. My findings show that Mexican American girls were targeted because of their race and gender. Although they were criticized for dressing in a sexual promiscuous manner, they resisted harassment by guards, fought the appalling prison conditions and escaped the facility. This research project sheds light on the injustices that incarcerated girls face and calls for the closing of girls’ juvenile detention facilities.