Bonnie Goldstein, Between the Lines: One Boy's Version of Juvenile Justice, PoliticsDaily.com,
February 23, 2010
Below is a three-page statement by Troy Isaac, part of his testimony to a House judiciary subcommittee hearing on safety conditions at juvenile detention centers. Isaac was incarcerated as a preteen "after an altercation I had with other kids in my neighborhood."
He was only 12 years old but, he told subcommittee chair Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and members of the committee, "after a couple of days, one boy forced me to have oral sex with him in the shower area," and within less than a week at the youth jail, "I was raped by another older boy." Describing his despair and confusion at the time, Isaac, who is now an adult, told the panel, "guards knew what was happening and looked the other way; I was too afraid to fight back...People would take advantage of me and I just didn't know how to get help."
"I was a terrified 12 year old boy" the ex-offender continued. "I had never been violent, and I was different -- I was skinny and effeminate." Traumatized, he began a "cycle of imprisonment ... where I continued to be assaulted and abused." Now 36, he has spent most of the years since in California corrections facilities. After his last release two years ago, Isaac formed an advocacy organization to counsel victims in similar circumstances.
He urged the U.S. Justice Department to adopt the recommendations of the Prison Rape Elimination board to protect children in custody at state and federal institutions. Despite evidence that the risk to boys and girls in detention is grave, chances of quick reform are poor. In January, the U.S. Bureau on Justice Statistics released a shocking report that revealed one out of 10 child prisoners in custody are molested or raped.