Petition

Tell U.S. Attorney General Holder to Protect Children from Rape in Adult Jails and Prisons

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About the Petition

Annually, over 100,000 youth are detained or confined in adult jails and prisons. The research shows that youth are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization and suicide. To end sexual violence behind bars, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The PREA's Youthful Inmate Standard bans the housing of youth in the general adult population, prohibits contact between youth and adults in common areas in adult jails and prisons, and at the same time, limits the use of isolation in complying with the standard.
 
It is crucial that Attorney General Eric Holder ensure that children are fully protected from the dangers of adult jails and prisons under PREA's Youthful Inmate Standard. Rather than try to segregate children from adults in adult jails and prisons, which often leads to solitary confinement, the Attorney General should urge states and localities to implement best practices by removing youth from adult jails and prisons and instead place them in juvenile facilities.
 

To: Attorney General Eric Holder

I am writing to urge you to make protecting children from rape in adult jails and prisons a priority.
 
As you know, Congress unanimously passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 to end sexual violence behind bars. The PREA's Youthful Inmate Standard bans the housing of youth in the general adult population, prohibits contact between youth and adults in common areas in adult jails and prisons, and at the same time, limits the use of isolation in complying with the standard.
 
It is difficult to keep youth safe if kept in adult detention and correctional facilities. It is also dangerous to segregate and isolate youth, the common “solution” to keeping them from assault in adult jails and prisons. Spending long stretches in solitary confinement can aggravate mental health problems and put kids at a much higher risk of suicide. The only solution for successful implementation of PREA's Youthful Inmate Standard is to remove youth from adult detention and correctional facilities all together, and placing them with their peers in juvenile detention facilities instead.
 
With states beginning their compliance audits as soon as July 2013, it is imperative that you raise awareness about the dangers young people face in adult jails and prisons, urge states and localities to focus on this crucial issue, and provide concrete assistance on best practices for implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard. As adult jails and prisons are simply not equipped to safely detain youth, I urge you to provide technical assistance to jurisdictions that reflect this reality by calling for the removal of all under-18 youth from adult prisons and jails.
 
This recommendation is consistent with your Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence report released in December that states, "We should stop treating juvenile offenders as if they were adults, prosecuting them in adult courts, incarcerating them as adults, and sentencing them to harsh punishments that ignore their capacity to grow."
 
Thank you for time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
 

[Your Name Here]

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