Girls as young as 13 say they were shackled for weeks at a time in Mississippi detention centers, CNN reports. A Texas teen was allegedly offered birthday cake in exchange for sex. Commenting on incidents of abuse and others, Jerome Miller, co-founder of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, said, “It’s a nationwide crisis that has been going on for years, one the public has never been told the extent of.”
Hundreds of youths have allegedly suffered abuse at juvenile detention centers across the U.S. The U.S. Justice Department has sued nine states and two territories alleging abuse, inadequate mental and medical care and potentially dangerous methods like the use of restraints. The department doesn’t have the power to shut down facilities — states do — but through litigation it can force a state to improve its detention centers and protect the civil rights of jailed youths. One facility under Justice scrutiny is Oakley Training School near Jackson, Ms. Gov. Haley Barbour is sending inmates there from another institution being closed. The Justice Department said Oakley has satisfied barely a fraction of requirements the department set for it years ago. A Justice report last month said there is an “enormous amount of work” needed to make Oakley a safe and productive place to rehabilitate troubled teens.