On any given day, over 10,000 youth are detained or confined in adult jails and prisons. The research shows that youth are not safe in adult jails and prisons and are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization. According to research by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, youth under the age of 18 represented 21 percent of all substantiated victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in jails in 2005, and 13 percent in 2006 – surprisingly high since only one percent of jail inmates are juveniles. The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission found that “more than any other group of incarcerated persons, youth incarcerated with adults are probably at the highest risk for sexual abuse.” Research also shows that youth are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued final regulations in August, 2012 to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to end sexual violence behind bars, including protecting children from the dangers of adult jails and prisons. Under these regulations, the U.S. Department of Justice will begin auditing facilities in August, 2013.
To protect children from sexual assault in adult jails and prisons, governors should implement PREA by banning the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons.