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Girls Scouts Behind Bars: A Social Justice Study

MMPA 6405: Ethics and Social Justice

Final Project Overview

For the Final Project of this course, select any government or non-profit organization for which there is sufficient information to allow a thorough analysis of ethical or social justice issues. You may select your own organization if it is a government or nonprofit organization, but be aware of the need for scholarly objectivity and the need to protect confidentiality. Ethical researchers never begin any project with a hidden agenda or predetermined conclusion. If you do choose your own organization, do not identify it by name or precise location.

Your Final Project should include the following:

1. An introduction that describes the government or nonprofit organization, the setting, and any other information about the organization or related background that readers need in order to understand the organization and its ethical and social justice issues; a description of the ethical issues facing the organization and public administrators within the organization
2. An explanation of the ethical issues related to two or more of the philosophical theories
3. A summary of the major ethical challenges and conflicts of responsibility presented to individuals in the organization and to the organization as a whole
4. A summary of the strategies that the organization uses to maintain responsible conduct
5. An explanation of your recommendations for addressing the issues, including a rationale for your recommendations and an explanation of why they might be effective in addressing the issues, with consideration given to the possible involvement of guerrilla government employees.
6. An analysis of the factors that would affect the implementation of the recommendations by using the ethical decision-making model
7. A description of the outcomes you would expect if the organization implemented your recommendations
8. An explanation of how the issues you raised are related to at least two of the four social justice themes (human rights, equality, liberty, and justice)

Solution Preview

Ethics and Social Justice:
Girl Scouts Behind Bars Study

Abstract - This study looks into a non-profit organization, Girl Scouts Behind Bars (GSBB) and reviews its work in relation to ethics and social injustice. An overview of the organization is provided in context of what it does as a non-profit. A discussion about likely ethical issues faced by the organization follows. Context for these is included as well. Ethical theories applicable to resolve them is then discussed as well as strategies for their application and recommendation based on this. Factors that can impact the application and likely outcomes based on this is also predicted. The study closes through a discussion of the themes of social justice as it can be seen in the case of the GSBB as an organization.

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This particular study looks into a specific organization for the purpose of studying ethical and social issues as it relates to the practice of justice. For this study, I have chosen to explore the 'Girl Scouts Behind Bars', a 'sub-organization' of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA). The latter is colloquially referred to as 'Girl Scouts' and as an organization it is one of the most valued youth groups in the US having been in existence since 1912 and having, as an organization for girls, been instrumental in forwarding advocacies and initiatives that changed the lives of many American girls since 1912. The 'Girl Scouts Behind Bars' is one of these many initiatives and advocacies. The organization believes in being inclusive, in supporting girls and their families, in building communities, especially those who are underrepresented or marginalized. GSUSA believes in ensuring justice and equality in its practice of community building and the challenges and difficulties faced by girls whose mother are behind bars fit this concern.

The GSUSA has over 2.3 million members active in the country. Considering that there are 1.7 million kids have parents in prison, the organization believed that an initiative to reach out, help and develop the lives of girls in such a predicament is an essential cause for youth justice (GSBB, 2013). This study presents a contextual picture of the GSBB initiative, program and sub-organization, looks into a sampling of ethical issues commonly faced in the program and discusses ethical theories as well as justice themes that apply in the case of the organization. The aim is to present recommendations and strategies that can help the organization innovate their program further.

The GSBB in Context

This is an advocacy group of Girl Scouts of America whose sole purpose is to reach out, advocate for and provide social and developmental support to girls, most of them under age 10, who have a parent in prison where, in most cases, their mothers are incarcerated. GSBB (2014) explains that, "Across the country, 1.7 million children—half of them under the age of 10—have a parent in prison, according to the advocacy group The Sentencing Project. Girls with incarcerated mothers face particular obstacles, but Girl Scouts of the USA believes that lack of access to leadership development programs shouldn't be among them."

Formed in 1992 in partnership with (GSBB, 2014), "the National Institute of Justice and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, and has grown to serve thousands of girls across the country. GSBB equips girls ages 5 to 17 whose mothers are incarcerated with the tools they'll need to succeed, while also strengthening the mother/daughter bond through regular visits. GSUSA's 2012 National Evaluation of the program found that 84 percent of girls agree that they have a better relationship with their mother since participating in GSBB."

As an advocacy group, GSBB looks at policies that can impact the development of the girls as well as positively help in rehabilitating their mothers to foster leadership skills as well as social and cultural skills to empower both mother and child, but especially the child/girl because of her unique needs. GSBB advocates for the girls in this position with the Justice Department, with local governments, State governments and Federal offices to lobby for funding, policy creation or policy amendment over a number of issues including education, welfare support, housing and parenting issues. It is important to note that while from an organizational viewpoint the GSBB is seen as a sub-organization of the GSUSA, the GSBB in terms of how it is run, deployed and administered is seen as a 'special program' following an initiative of the GSUSA in relation to community-building. The GSUSA (2014) explains -

"Girl Scouting builds community. By giving a voice to the under-represented and reaching out to those in need, girls bridge gaps, heal wounds, and create lasting connections. Working towards earned grade-level awards girls improve their schools and neighborhoods and develop an ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides information, assistance and advise in tackling the task (see above) on the topic of putting together a comprehensive social justice and ethics study of an organization. The GSUSA's Girl Scouts Behind Bars initiative is studied following the lenses and tasks set in the problem. Solution contains advise, a suggested outline as well as a 3,031-word essay based on this advise. Resources are listed for further exploration of the topic. An MS-Word document version is also attached.