A culture of violence and rampant sexual activity at Indiana’s Plainfield Juvenile Correctional Facility put hundreds of youths in harm’s way, concludes a U.S. Department of Justice report quoted by the Indianapolis Star. A Justice probe of three juvenile facilities in Indiana found sweeping problems, from youth-on-youth violence to excessive use of force by staff. The federal department is likely to reach an agreement with the state for corrective action. The Plainfield center houses male juveniles mainly from 12 to 18. Assaults “frequently occur without intervention — or even awareness — by staff,” said the Justice report, which cited understaffing as a main reason violence went undetected. Correction Commissioner J. David Donahue called Justice’s findings unsettling and vowed to cooperate with the agency’s inquiry.
Donahue, who took office in January, has made changes already, including separating the oldest offenders from the youngest and installing more surveillance cameras in some facilities. The Plainfield center soon will be converted into an adult offender re-entry facility.