A Case Against Juvenile Detention

January 2010

Locking up kids who get into trouble with the law, it turns out, can lead to situations in which they become the victim of sexual predators. Twelve percent of the youth at the state-run Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center in Golden report that they have been sexually assaulted, according to a national report by the Justice Department cited by Westword. The 200-bed facility, occupied by males ages 14 to 21, has a slightly higher incidence of abuse than the national average and is the worst in Colorado, although similar facilities, such as Sol Vista in Pueblo and Zebulon Pike in Colorado Springs, weren't included in the survey. Nationwide, more than one in 10 juvenile detainees in major U.S. facilities say they've experienced some kind of sexual abuse or sexual victimization, an estimated figure since the information in the questionnaires has not been verified claim-by-claim, CNN points out. Nevertheless, the findings "bring into focus the dire circumstances that too many youth in juvenile correctional facilities have to endure," says a Justice Department statement issued with the report. The worst facility in the nation is the Pendleton Juvenile Correction Facility in Indiana, where 36 percent of youths have complained of sexual abuse.