Youth advocates have long argued that juveniles incarcerated in adult prisons and jails are at heightened risk for rape and other forms of sexual abuse. A Justice Department survey issued yesterday (and reported in this digest) found that juveniles did not report significantly more sexual victimization than adult inmates, says the New York Times. The survey offers the first national estimates of the prevalence of sexual abuse among juveniles housed in adult facilities.
The report's lead author said he believed the findings “are far more reliable and representative of the experiences of such youth nationwide than the anecdotal data from the past.” Advocacy groups contested the numbers, arguing that many juveniles housed with adults are afraid to report sexual abuse and that the true figures are likely to be far higher. Allen Beck of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said extensive precautions were taken to preserve confidentiality for inmates who participated in the survey and to ensure that the reports were as reliable as possible. Liz Ryan of the Campaign for Youth Justice, a group that aims to keep minors out of the adult criminal justice system, said, “We think that this study is inconsistent with previous studies that have been done on this topic.”