On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice‘s Bureau of Justice Statistics released a study Sexual Victimization In Prisons and Jails Reported By Inmates, 2011-12. In 2011-12, juveniles held in adult prisons and jails did not have significantly higher rates of sexual victimization by adult inmates. An estimated 3.2% of juveniles reported staff misconduct, which was higher than that reported by adults (2.4% in prison and 1.8% in jails). That was not statistically, significantly different than the correlating adult rate. Inmates with serious psychological disorders or those who identified their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or other than heterosexual had higher rates of victimization.
Advocacy groups quickly began releasing requests for further study due to juvenile underreporting due to fear of retaliation. See an example here.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) restricts placement of youth in adult jails and prisons as a matter of policy. The federal regulations ban the housing of youth in the general adult population, prohibits contact between youth and adults in common areas, and limits the use of isolation. Standards have been promulgated. In Indiana, the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) is charged with implementation in both the DOC correctional facilities and the juvenile detention centers. DOC also has a sexual assault hotline where assaults can be reported on an inmate’s behalf.
Advocacy groups around the country are using the PREA standards as another reason to push for eliminating waiver and direct-file cases that put juveniles in criminal court. The latest state making a big push is Illinois with HB 2404, which will require that all children charged with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies be tried and sentenced in juvenile court.