Public Hearing on the Plight of Youth
In U.S. Detention Facilities

May 30, 2006

BOSTON - Whether incarcerated in juvenile or adult facilities, youth are among the chief victims of horrifying sexual abuse at the hands of corrections officials and other inmates. As usual in the world of sexual violence behind bars, the youngest, the smallest, and the least experienced in the ways of prison life are the ones who tend to fall prey to sexual predators.

In Boston on June 1, 2006, youth who have survived sexual violence in detention and experts on this subject will participate in a public hearing held by the bipartisan National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), a national human rights organization, is bringing two young survivors of sexual violence to the hearing, enabling them to tell their stories of shocking abuse directly to the bipartisan Commission.

Eighteen-year old Cyryna Pasion, a transgender girl, will speak about her experiences at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility: "I experienced the most damaging and emotionally devastating treatment of my life. I was sexually assaulted. … The staff never tried to stop this; instead, they called me names such as ‘twinkle toes’ and ‘fairy.’ … These things happened to me in 2004 and 2005, after the passage of PREA. I just hope that this law starts to make a difference for other young people in detention."

 Juveniles from ages 13 to 18 held in adult prisons and jails are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, when incarcerated with adults, teenagers are five times more likely to report being sexually assaulted than when held in juvenile facilities. Youth held in juvenile facilities are also subjected to high levels of sexual violence. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has reported that, in 2004, juvenile facilities had higher rates of sexual abuse by corrections personnel than any other type of facility. More than 2,800 instances of sexual abuse by officials and other wards were reported during that year alone.

"Sexual abuse violates the basic right of incarcerated youth to be free from sexual violence and harassment," said SPR’s Co-Executive Director, Kathy Hall Martinez. "It is unconscionable that sexual violence continues to ravage facilities supposedly charged with their rehabilitation into productive adults."

The hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. on June 1, 2006, at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, One Courthouse Way, Boston, Massachusetts. The two survivors testifying will be available for interviews by appointment. Please contact Edward Cervantes at 213-384-1400, ext. 105, or Co-Executive Director Kathy Hall-Martinez at 310-210-5138 (cell) for more information.

For a selection of recent juvenile survivor testimonies, please click here.