The federal government released this morning the first report on the prevalence of sexual assault in juvenile detention facilities. Should the study’s survey represent the entire youth offender population, more than 1 in every 10 children in detention was sexually assaulted in a 12 month period. In some facilities, more than 1 in 4 juveniles were abused. The vast majority of these offenses were perpetrated by corrections staff.
This staggering news points to the desperate need for states to adopt and enforce the recommendations for reform made by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The Commission’s report and recommendations provide detention centers with concrete ways to prevent, detect, and prosecute sexual abuse. The government has a moral obligation to protect people who are in its charge -- particularly vulnerable, impressionable youth. No matter the crime, a just punishment never includes rape.