Friday, January 08, 2016

The Steep Costs of Keeping Juveniles in Adult Prisons

Jessica Lahey
? Jan. 2016


On any given day, 10,000 juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails. These children lose more than their freedom when they enter adult prisons; they lose out on the educational and psychological benefits offered by juvenile-detention facilities. Worse, they are much more likely to suffer sexual abuse and violence at the hands of other inmates and prison staff. The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission described their fate in blunt terms in a 2009 report: “More than any other group of incarcerated persons, youth incarcerated with adults are probably at the highest risk of sexual abuse.”


Kids who are placed in the adult system are 34 times more likely to recidivate than their counterparts in the juvenile system.”

Because these kids are less likely than their counterparts imprisoned in juvenile centers to get the vocational training and education they need in order to function after release in an adult prison, society is essentially setting them up to fail, and priming them for recidivism. Most juveniles, even those convicted as adults, are released while they are still young. “Approximately 80 percent of youth convicted as adults will be released from prison before their 21st birthday, and 95 percent will be released by their 25th birthday,” according to the Center for Youth Justice.


the vast majority of kids are imprisoned for non-violent offenses, and we should be working to rehabilitate these youth while they’re still young, as opposed to throwing them away in the adult system.”


Compared to adults, [juveniles] are more likely to be harmed by exposure to stress and trauma, but they are also more likely to benefit from rehabilitation. In view of what we know about conditions of confinement in correctional facilities, it’s no surprise that juveniles who are released from adult facilities are in worse shape, and are more likely to reoffend, than their counterparts with similar criminal histories who are released from facilities designed with adolescents in mind.

Daugherty suggests that it’s difficult to get people to care about the plight of juveniles in prison due to longstanding tolerance of prison sexual abuse. “The joke is that you go to prison, and learn quickly not to drop the soap. The assumption of prison sexual abuse has become so entrenched in American culture that it is assumed to be part of the punishment, but it’s not. You get sentenced to jail and prison, not to be raped and abused behind bars.”
[Anybody who condones sexual abuse against people of any age is warped & evil.]

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