Karen Stephenson, Inmate Sex Abuse is a Nationwide Crisis, suite101.com, February 27, 2010, 2010

More than 12% of youths are sexually abused while in juvenile corrections facilities according to the Department of Justice Statistics study that was released in January 2010. The vast majority of these cases involve female staff and boys who are under their supervision. The worst facilities that were surveyed are located in Maryland, Indiana, Texas and North Carolina and facilities in these states report that more than 30% of youth have been sexually victimized.

According to Just Detention International, a human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention facilities, on any given day there are about 93,000 youth in juvenile facilities and more than half of whom are 16 years of age or younger.

News Headlines

There’s no shortage of news headlines that indicate sexual abuse of youth inmates is rampant. CNN reported in April 2007 that ex-prison officials in Monahans, Texas were charged with inmate abuse. Two men were charged with various sex-related crimes, both of whom were permitted to “quietly quit” their jobs during the investigation.

On February 8, 2010, a headline story on WBIR.com, “Sex abuse allegations plague TN juvenile detention center,” shocked many people. The story reveals that sex abuse at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center is a serious problem. A 15 year old mentally challenged boy was solicited for oral sex.

This news story also reveals that a Tennessean investigation found indications of female staff abuse of male students at Woodland Hills, including a female kitchen employee who transmitted chlamydia to a 17-year-old youth through a sexual encounter.

Nationwide Crisis

Jerome Miller, a psychiatric social workers and co-founder of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives has evaluated and helped reform juvenile jails for over thirty years. Miller asserts, "It's a nationwide crisis that has been going on for years, one the public has never been told the extent of.”

International human rights organization Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) welcomes the release of this new study. Alarmingly, the report confirms that, even in proven cases of staff-on-youth sexual molestations, most perpetrators suffer no legal consequences. Only 39% of officials found to have sexually abused youth in their charge were arrested. What’s worse, in state-run juvenile facilities, ¼ of staff perpetrators who were guilty, were able to keep their jobs.

"As long as corrections staff are able to victimize youth with impunity, sexual abuse will continue to fester in juvenile detention facilities,” said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of SPR. Just Detention International

Just Detention International was founded by Russell Dan Smith as People Organized to Stop the Rape of Imprisoned Persons (POSRIP) in 1980. The group's mission was to deal “with the problems of rape, sexual assault, un-consensual sexual slavery, and forced prostitution in the prison context.” Like many people involved in the early days of the organization, Russell Dan Smith was a survivor of rape behind bars. POSRIP was renamed Stop Prisoner Rape and in September 2008 it took on the name Just Detention International.

Just Detention International has many programs to help not just youth who have suffered sexual abuse while in detention, but women and men as well.

There needs to be a major overhaul in America’s youth juvenile corrections facilities. Visit Just Detention International and help end sexual violence in detention.

Read more at Suite101: Inmate Sex Abuse is a Nationwide Crisis: Sexually Abused Youth in Juvenile Prisons Needs to Stop http://sexual-abuse.suite101.com/article.cfm/inmate-sex-abuse-is-a-nationwide-crisis#ixzz0h2jIfRRL

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