Juvenile injustice rampant in Georgia
by The Savannah Morning News
June 18, 2013 12:31 AM | 2501 views | 0 0 comments | 103 103 recommendations | email to a friend | print
All Georgians should be shocked, horrified and disgusted by a new federal report that says four of Georgia’s youth detention centers are among the nation’s worst for sexual assaults involving young inmates.

The report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is based on juvenile inmate surveys conducted nationwide last year.

It comes at a time when Georgia is trying to overhaul its juvenile justice system, which has been plagued by reports of predatory teenage inmates assaulting other inmates and of abuse by staff members.

This latest document must accelerate needed reforms. The youthful victims of these attacks are already incarcerated for breaking laws. Being sexually assaulted while in the state’s custody will make their rehabilitation more difficult — and scar them for life.

None of the four facilities are in the Savannah area. They were identified as the Augusta YDC in Richmond County, the Sumter County YDC in Americus, the Eastman YDC in Dodge County and the Paulding County YDC in Dallas.

The Paulding County facility, which serves seven counties west of Atlanta, led the nation with 32.1 percent of youth inmates reporting last year that they were victimized sexually by staff or other juveniles. That’s more than three times the national rate of 9.5 percent.

If three out of every 10 inmates are being assaulted, then that facility is out of control. State officials must clean house. ....

State employees who are using their positions to take advantage of young offenders shouldn’t be working behind bars. They belong behind bars.

All told, nearly 300 boys in Georgia reported sexual abuse last year, based on answers provided anonymously by youth in custody. Georgia’s four facilities were on a national list of 13 facilities with the highest rates of sexual misconduct. South Carolina was named, as well.

Commissioner Avery D. Niles, head of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, said in a prepared statement that he’s “truly concerned to hear these allegations of sexual misconduct.”
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