New Dept. of Justice Report : Widespread Sexual Abuse of Juveniles in U.S. Prisons
Prison Fellowship Demands Zero Tolerance of Prison Rape; Urges U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to Adopt Recommendations Designed to Stop Abuse
LANSDOWNE, Va., Jan. 7, 2010—The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), has released a sobering report revealing the extent of sexual abuse of juveniles in U.S. prisons and jails. In "Sexual Victimization of Youth Facilities Reported by Juvenile Offenders, 2008-09," more than one in 10 incarcerated youth reported a sexual assault during the past year, with the vast majority of these incidents involving sexual abuse by staff. Most alarming was the revelation that in 13 facilities, as many as one in four juvenile offenders reported a sexual assault in the past 12 months.
Citing the numbers of abuse in this latest report, Prison Fellowship Vice President Pat Nolan said it is imperative that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder act immediately to adopt standards that hold prison officials accountable for ending the sexual violence that plagues U.S. correctional facilities.
"No crime - no matter how heinous - has a sentence that includes sexual assault," said Nolan, who served on a national, bipartisan commission created by Congress that studies federal, state and local policies and practices related to the prevention, detection, response and monitoring of sexual abuse in America's corrections system. "As a society, we have the responsibility to protect those we send to prison from abuses such as rape and sexual violence, especially when we are talking about children."
Last June, the commission delivered recommendations to President Barack Obama, Congress, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other federal and state officials. According to members of the commission, there is no reason why Holder should not immediately adopt them and put them into action.
This latest BJS report on juveniles follows hard on the heels of another study - The Department of Justice's Efforts to Prevent Staff Sexual Abuse of Federal Inmates - released in September 2009, in which the U.S. Department of Justice stated that allegations of criminal sexual abuse and noncriminal sexual misconduct by Bureau of Prison (BOP) staff more than doubled during the past eight years, a faster rate than the growth in the prisoner population or the number of BOP staff.
"We can no longer look the other way as government correctional facilities allow those under their authority - especially juvenile offenders - to be subjected to sexual assault," said Prison Fellowship President and former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley. "We demand zero tolerance of this egregious abuse of power."
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 requires the BJS to annually measure the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault within the nation's correctional system.MEDIA NOTE: To schedule an interview with Mark Earley or Pat Nolan, contact Michelle Farmer or Amy Anderson, (770) 813-0000 or (770) 757-4900 cell.