Tag Archive for rape

Have San Diego County officials been misreporting staff sexual misconduct?

Prison corridor with cells inside Alcatraz main building san francisco califforniaIt would seem that San Diego country juvenile facilities have developed a sudden credibility gap. According to investigative reporting by CityBeat it would seem that their reporting numbers for the past several years just don’t add up.

Here is an excerpt from the City Beat report by Dave Maas in which he looks at the absence of vital information from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ required annual Survey of Sexual Violence:

>San Diego County Probation has filed 15 such survey forms for juvenile facilities since 2004 and not one discloses any allegation of sexual misconduct by staff, giving the false impression of a perfect record. Presented with inconsistencies between the surveys and other public records, the Probation Department now admits it does not disclose cases that are investigated by its internal-affairs unit. Since all allegations against staff are investigated by internal affairs, this policy has resulted in the omission of all staff-misconduct cases from the federal surveys.

‘Information for the survey was gathered from data entered into the probation case management system, which does not include internal affairs reports due to their sensitive nature,’ probation spokesperson Tammy Glenn said in an email to CityBeat. ‘We do plan to review our department’s process for gathering data to determine if internal affairs reports should be captured for the purposes of the survey in the future.’

Probation’s internal-affairs unit has investigated at least six allegations of staff sexual misconduct at its facilities since 2008, Glenn says. Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins has also said in previous news stories that its internal-affairs unit launched 10 such investigations between 2004 and 2010 at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility and the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, through which roughly 9,000 kids pass each year. Probation says that some of these cases occurred at facilities that were not surveyed and therefore would not have been reported to the BOJS anyway. However, Glenn acknowledges that the department failed to report one case on a federal survey it filed in 2011.

Read the entire article- there is much, much more.

While it is hardly surprising that the perpetrators of illegal acts of this nature would want to conceal themselves, this sort of defiance of federally mandated standards is frightening if true.

Not only are these incidents tragic, but the obscuring of the events proves a huge and long term issue. How can we address the issues of juvenile justice when the data has been fudged? How can we prevent prison rape if we don’t know it is happening?

Let us hope that the six investigations just launched by the Probation Department help drag the facts into the light. Just think, those investigations only cover the last four years. That might merely be the tip of the iceberg.

Read the whole story on City Beat – County misreports data about sexual violence in juvenile jails.

Incarceration: The World Experienced by Child Offenders

Bart Lubow, who directs the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group minces no words when it comes to the subject of juvenile incarceration. WNYC 93.9 FM brings us his comments:

Putting young offenders in correctional facilities, he said, isn’t paying off.

‘It results in extraordinarily high recidivism rates, exposes youth to abuse and violence and does little, if anything, to enhance public safety,’ Lubow said.

Unfortunately there are times when the situation is even worse than that. In Texas Jordan Adams died after being strangled with a sheet at Granbury Regional Juvenile Justice Center. Another 14 year old was the one holding the sheet at the time.

Here’s some of the news coverage:

This shows another pernicious aspect of our incarceration based approach to juvenile justice. Evidence that has continued to mount pointing out the ineffectiveness of incarceration for quite some time, but examination reveals an array of failings of the most egregious sort.

Many readers will consider this boy’s death a tragic but isolated instance, and thankfully juvenile fatalities of this sort are not what you could call common. That is, of course, shallow solace.

It is not just death that faces incarcerated kids. The vile specter of rape is one faced by 30% of all youth inmates. All of them, both male and female.  The U.S. Department of Justice has provided some truly disturbing figures (as reported by AmplifyYourVoice) :

Rates of reported sexual victimization varied among youth:
– 10.8% of males and 4.7% of females reported sexual activity with facility staff.
– 9.1% of females and 2.0% of males reported unwanted sexual activity with other youth.
– Youth with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual reported significantly higher rates of sexual victimization by another youth (12.5%) compared to heterosexual youth (1.3%).
– Youth who had experienced any prior sexual assault were more than twice as likely to report sexual victimization in the current facility (24.1%), compared to those with no sexual assault history (10.1%).

The violence often found in these facilities, coupled with the frequently inadequate staffing and supervision, is part of the reason that institutions like these tend to produce repeat offenders. Criminal behavior is learned and reinforced in these facilities far more often than not.

When you consider the plight of chidren in these environments it is good to recall the words of  Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy and author of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and BORN FOR LOVE: Why Empathy Is Essential — and Endangered:

What we are as adults is the product of the world we experienced as children. The way a society functions is a reflection of the childrearing practices of that society. Today, we reap what we have sown.

The Link Between Prostitution and Homelessness

Homeless girlAmong the significant number of homeless teens on the street there are many who have been reduced by circumstances to prostitution. It’s a grim and ugly reality.

One of the factors that makes this issue less visible, in addition to the blind spot many develop towards the homeless in general, is the fact that it does not always adhere to the expectations. The classic stereotype of “hooker and pimp” is only one of many permutations possible on the streets. Prostitution does not always involve an exchange of favors for currency.

Laura Rillos, KVAL News, reports:

[Chris] Mirabal [program manager of Looking Glass New Roads, a day shelter dedicated to homeless youth] said the most common is called ‘survival sex.’  Typically, a person will offer a homeless youth a place to stay and expect sexual activity in return.

Sometimes, said Mirabal, the teen is not aware of the arrangement until after they’ve stayed with a person for a few days or weeks.

This form of predatory behavior is not confined to targeting the female gender. Homeless males find themselves being pushed into these compromising situations as well:

‘They wanted to have, like me have sex with her, while I’m staying on their couch, as part of rent,’ said a young homeless man who wanted to be identified as Brain. ‘I was like, I can’t do that. I’m sorry.’

Brain is 21 years old. He acknowledges his age and gender made it easier for him to say no and leave that situation.

Lack of resources can drive people to desperate measures. Add in the possibility of mental health or substance abuse issues, and the situation gets rapidly worse. When you don’t know where your next meal is coming from it become easier to rationalize things like this.

The escalating harshness of life on the streets over the recent years is also a factor. Young homeless girls in particular are at risk of rape, assault, and descent into prostitution. Without the normal support infrastructure provided by family and friends their vulnerability escalates.

Wendy McElroy, editor of ifeminists and someone who has herself been homeless, has commented on this aspect of the situation back in 2001:

The situation confronting homeless teens is worse today than when I ran away. It was the dead of winter when I left, and for the first nights I slept on the pew of a church whose doors were always open. Today, those doors would probably be locked. I was at one point ‘discovered,’ which was my greatest fear, but the person simply put a blanket over me and left without waking me up. Today, society is numbed to homelessness; we are overwhelmed with compassion fatigue and acts of gratuitous kindness seem to be fewer. We avert our eyes from the hand-painted signs and ignore the rattling cups.

McElroy’s position in the column is a controversial one. She advocates loosening of the child-labor restrictions so that the underage homeless can work and develop their own resources. Her reasoning is that most of the homeless in that age range are fleeing an abusive environment at home, and most programs are geared to return them to that home. Obviously, it is an idea that has gained little traction in the near decade since.

Source: “‘Survival sex’ lures homeless teens into prostitution,” KVAL.com, 02/09/10
Source: “Homelessness and Prostitution,” ifeminists, 05/15/01
Image by Franco Folini, used under its Creative Commons license.

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