JDI IN THE NEWS - 2013

Letter to the Editor: Abuse in Ohio's youth prisons is at crisis stage

By Lovisa Stannow, The Columbus Dispatch
June 24, 2013

To the Editor:

The June 17 Dispatch editorial “A disturbing revelation” examined a new Bureau of Justice Statistics report that found that Ohio's youth-detention facilities had among the highest rates of sexual abuse in the country. Unfortunately, rather than focus on what the state can and must do to stop this abuse, the newspaper cast doubt on the trustworthiness of the youths who report it.

This attitude is disappointingly common, and contradicts the findings of the most-recent and previous government studies.

The editorial noted that Ohio’s juvenile system detains “only hard-core delinquents,” the presumption being that troubled kids are more likely to lie about being sexually abused. If this were true, then facilities in other states that house troubled youths also would have similarly high rates. Yet the new Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that many facilities nationwide had low reporting rates; indeed, youths in Delaware, Massachusetts and New York reported no incidents at all. Either kids in Ohio are more prone to lying than kids in other states, which seems highly unlikely, or the state has a massive problem on its hands.

Let’s hope that the state’s leaders take bold steps to address the crisis, rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.

LOVISA STANNOW
Executive director
Just Detention International
Los Angeles

Original post: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2013/06/24/abuse-in-ohios-youth-prisons-is-at-crisis-stage.html


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