Mississippi’s Columbia Training School for girls has been sued twice in the past four years, one of them charging “horrendous physical and sexual abuse.” The school will be closed. Across the U.S., says the Associated Press, child advocates have deplored conditions under which young offenders are housed, including sexual and physical abuse and even deaths in restraints. The U.S. Justice Department has sued 11 states over supervision that is either abusive or harmfully lax and shoddy.
AP asked each state agency that oversees juvenile correction centers for information on the number of deaths as well as the number of allegations and confirmed cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by staff members since Jan. 1, 2004. More than 13,000 claims of abuse were identified in juvenile correction centers 2004 through 2007 among a total detainee population of about 46,000. Just 1,343 claims were confirmed; experts say only a small fraction of the allegations are ever confirmed. Some troubled young people make up stories; in other cases, the youth are pressured not to report abuse.