Idaho Case Illustrates Problem Of Sex Abuse In Juvenile Detention Units


The head of security at the state juvenile corrections center in Nampa, Id., was sentenced to prison last year for having sex with a teen inmate. The Wall Street Journal calls the incident an example of an issue plaguing juvenile facilities nationwide. Inmate surveys show juveniles experience a rate of sexual victimization by staff that is more than three times that of adult prisoners. Nearly 10 percent of youth held in state juvenile facilities reported incidents of sexual victimization, with more than 80 percent of those incidents involving staff, said the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“Youth are exceedingly vulnerable to being victimized in custodial settings,” said Brenda Smith of the Project on Addressing Prison Rape at American University Washington College of Law. The Justice Department's civil-rights division has investigated mistreatment of youths behind bars in the U.S., finding repeated incidents of sexual abuse by staff and a lack of oversight by administrators. Facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi have agreed to make changes after federal probes. It is a crime in all 50 states for correctional staff to engage in sexual intercourse with inmates.

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