E-NEWS - 2010

Justice Department Hearings on Sexual Abuse of Juvenile Detainees

Recent federal study shows shocking levels of abuse, underscores need for Attorney General to ratify national standards set forth by bipartisan commission.

Washington, DC, June 3, 2010. Following a federal report that found alarming rates of sexual abuse of detained youth, the Department of Justice Review Panel on Prison Rape is holding public hearings to address the problem, in Washington, DC on June 3-4, 2010.

The Review Panel will focus on agencies highlighted in the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09, released in January 2010: two facilities with low rates of sexual abuse (Fort Bellefontaine Campus - St. Louis, MO; Rhode Island Training School - Cranston, RI) and three with high rates (Juvenile Correctional Facility - Pendleton, IN; Youth Development Center - Woodland Hills, TN; Residential Treatment Center - Corsicana, TX).

The Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, which asked detained youth about sexual victimization, found that more than 12 percent of detainees -- almost one in eight -- reported suffering at least one incident of abuse at their current facility in the preceding year. In the worst facilities, one in three youth was victimized. Overall, 80 percent of the abuse was perpetrated by staff.

"The widespread sexual abuse of youth in the government's care is unconscionable," says Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International. "These hearings are vitally important, highlighting best practices and systemic problems in youth facilities. They are also timely, reinforcing the need for national standards to end prison rape."

National standards are currently under review by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. By law, he has until June 23, 2010 to promulgate standards based on recommendations by the bipartisan National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, making them binding on detention facilities nationwide. Holder has acknowledged that he will miss his deadline, perhaps by as much as a year.

-- More information on the Review Panel on Prison Rape is available online.
-- The Bureau of Justice Statistics report can be found here.
-- Just Detention International's public comments on the national standards are here.
-- On June 1, The New York Times published an editorial urging action on the standards.

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