PRESS RELEASES - 2008

New Government Study Confirms:
Juvenile Detention Staff Not Held Accountable for Sexual Abuse

WASHINGTON, DC, July 31, 2008. International human rights organization Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) welcomes the release today of a report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), analyzing administrative reports of sexual abuse in juvenile corrections facilities during 2005 and 2006. Alarmingly, the report confirms that, even in substantiated cases of staff-on-youth sexual victimization, most perpetrators suffer no legal consequences.

Only 39 percent of officials found to have sexually abused youth in their charge were arrested and/or referred for prosecution. To make matters worse, in state-run juvenile facilities, one-quarter of confirmed staff perpetrators 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. "When a report of abuse is confirmed and the staff involved are still not disciplined, officials send a clear message that abusive behavior is acceptable, and that reporting such abuse is, at best, futile."

Forty-three percent of official reports of sexual violence in juvenile detention facilities in 2005 and 2006 involved staff sexual abuse, while the remainder was perpetrated by other youth. In total, the BJS study found that 2,047 sexual abuse complaints were filed in 2005 and 2,025 in 2006; nearly 17 allegations per 1,000 youth detainees. In similar surveys of official reports filed in adult prisons, the BJS determined that there were nearly 3 allegations filed per 1,000 inmates. However, when asked directly about sexual victimization by the BJS, adult prisoners reported 15 times higher rates of abuse. The BJS is currently in the process of conducting its first-ever survey about sexual abuse with juvenile detainees, which will be released in 2009.

SPR is the only non-governmental organization in the country dedicated exclusively to eliminating sexual violence in detention. SPR was instrumental in securing passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003, which mandated the BJS to publish today’s report.

For a copy of the BJS report, “Sexual Violence Reported by Juvenile Correctional Authorities, 2005-06,” please go to http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/.

For more information, contact Lovisa Stannow at 310-617-4350 (cell).