This really is a national disgrace. There are numerous studies linking this epidemic of prison sexual abuse to eventual committing of violent crime, yet there seems to be no concerted or sustained effort to force prisons to deal with it at the source. Every once in a while, some kind of report comes out and there's a big fuss, but nothing changes:
The Justice Department reported Thursday that 12 percent of incarcerated juveniles, or more than 3,200 young people, had been raped or sexually abused in the past year by fellow inmates or prison staff, quantifying for the first time a problem that has long troubled lawmakers and human rights advocates.
The report comes as those advocates say that the Obama administration is moving too slowly on reforms that would reduce rape in U.S. prisons and as corrections officials are pressing Justice to overhaul reform proposals it is reviewing.
Four former commissioners on a blue-ribbon prison rape panel that spent years studying the issue say they fear that authorities are deferring to concerns by corrections officials that reforms would cost too much, while not focusing enough on prison safety and the effects of abuse on inmates.
The study by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported a "very high rate of staff sexual misconduct" against juvenile inmates. It cited two facilities in Virginia and one in Maryland, among others.
"These figures are appalling," said Pat Nolan, president of Justice Fellowship, a group that advocates for prison reform. "We stripped a prisoner of their ability to defend themselves. They can't control where they go; they can't control whether the shower has a light bulb in it."