What can Illinois do to reduce sexual abuse in juvenile detention facilities?
Illinois is in the top four of states with this problem, according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Justice, with 15 percent of detainees saying they had experienced sexual abuse, either by staff or fellow inmates. Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina were the other states with rates this high.
The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, a 25-member panel of experts that recommends policy, has come up with some suggestions, and presented them to Illinois lawmakers.
Among those suggestions: don’t incarcerate them in the first place. “The department (of Juvenile Justice) and the state … have made tremendous progress in that area. We need to continue it and accelerate it and make sure that we’re getting kids out of those secure facilities in a timely way, and providing them with the support they need in the community,” testified Lisa Jacobs, vice chairman of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.
Jacobs says keeping youth out of prison not only will prevent sex abuse, but it
will also produce better results in terms of rehabilitation.