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Bureau of Justice Publishes Report on Sexual Misconduct at Juvenile Facilities

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released a report on the prevalence of sexual misconduct and violence at juvenile residential facilities. The report, entitled Sexual Violence Reported by Juvenile Correctional Authorities 2005-06, is in accordance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA). The PREA requires the BJS to collect data on the incidence and prevalence of sexual violence and misconduct in adult and juvenile correctional facilities nationwide.

The BJS conducted the 2005 Survey of Sexual Violence (SSV) between January 1 and June 15, 2006 and the 2006 SSV between January 1 and June 31, 2007. The surveys included state juvenile correctional systems and local or private juvenile facilities and were designed to measure the number of youth-on-youth (YOY) sexual violence as well as staff-on-youth (SOY) sexual misconduct and harassment. All fifty states plus the District of Columbia reported for state facilities and a representative sample was drawn from the local and privately operated facilities.
Only three states – Montana, New Hampshire and Wyoming – reported no allegations at all.
Each year, more than 2,000 allegations are recorded at juvenile facilities. About 57% of reported allegations were YOY and the remaining 43% were SOY. For both 2005 and 2006 there were approximately 4,072 allegations, 732 of which were eventually substantiated. All allegations were classified as one of the following four categories: substantiated, unsubstantiated, unfounded or investigation ongoing. Substantiated incidents are generally higher in juvenile facilities than in adult prisons and jails. According to the report, the youth rate was 3 substantiated incidents per 1,000 juveniles and adults were less than one per 1,000.

Victims of YOY incidents were more likely to be males while victims of SOYs were mostly females. According to the report, around 55% of SOY perpetrators were males between the ages of 25 and 290. Among staff perpetrators 44% were black and 37% were white while only 19% were Hispanic. More than a quarter of male SOY perpetrators had less than 6 months tenure. While nearly half of female staff perpetrators had less than 6 months on the job.

Most youth perpetrators received punishment for their actions with 63% facing legal ramifications. Others were pun-ished internally by the individual facility. While local and private facilities fired 87% of staff involved outright, state-run pro-grams only fired 35%. A total of 99% of staff in local and private and 75% in state facilities lost their jobs due to individuals resigning in lieu of being discharged.

According to the report, the BJS has developed a new system to gather information about youth sexual misconduct directly from the juvenile victims. The new method, called the National Survey of Youth in Custody, will utilize anonymous, self-administered surveys using audio computer-assisted interview procedures. The BJS hopes youths will feel more com-fortable using the new system, thereby allowing for more accurate reporting on this sensitive subject.

Sources: Sexual Violence Reported by Juvenile Correctional Authorities, 2005 – 2006, Bureau of Justice Statistics. This report is available on PLN’s website.

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