New Campaign Asks Us To Take Juvenile Prison Rape Seriously

In the wake of a series of articles about the severity of sexual abuse in prisons, the organization Just Detention International (formerly Stop Prison Rape) has a great new campaign to raise awareness about the extent to which we normalize prison sexual assault.  JDI released a report earlier this month with some pretty horrifying statistics: “12.1 percent or almost one in eight of the detained youth who participated in the survey reported sexual abuse at their current facility during the previous year.” 

The study goes on to add that “on any given day, there are approximately 93,000 youth confined in juvenile facilities, more than half of whom are 16 or younger.”  80 percent of the abuse was perpetrated by a member of the facility’s staff.  Victimized youth “usually endured repeated sexual abuse, often more than ten times, and frequently by multiple perpetrators.”

This information is not widely known, and it’s rarely taken seriously.  But JDI’s new campaign highlights in a very real way the extent to which we dehumanize the victims of sexual assault in prisons.  Take a look at this young woman, and then this next photo.

Amanda Hess has the rest of the campaign, which focuses on prisoners’ sexual health and our tendency to joke about sexual assault, on her Washington City Paper blog – take a look at it here.   I have to say, I love this campaign as much as everyone else who’s been writing about it this morning. 

But I also agree with Amanda that this, sadly, is a bigger problem than just ignoring sexual assault in prisons.  There are too many people who think that jokes about rape (whether they’re of the homophobic or just sexist variety) are totally acceptable, and we have too much proof that people sometimes wouldn’t help any young woman if she were being raped, regardless of whether she was in a prison uniform. 

I’m glad Just Detention International is doing this great work, but we can’t forget that there’s far more we can be doing to combat rape culture – and that acknowledging this form is crucial, but only a small part of the picture.

Photo courtesy of Rennett Stowe's Flickr Photostream.


Debbie Peddicord
Debbie Peddicord8 years ago


Past Member
Past Member 8 years ago


Dave Tohunga
Dave te tohunga8 years ago

There is a principle known as 'Duty of Care'
whereby govts and corporates and their employees
are accountable for anything that happens in their institutions.
By this it means that the organisation is required to protect inmates from officers, from other inmates and unsafe practices & hazzards, much like occupational health and safety requirements (also often not complied due to financial rationalisations).
The individual guards, their superiors in the chain of command, the organisation and owners are personally and individually responsible and accountable.
Of course these are illusions spun to justify
the existence of horrendous institutions
in dysfunctional military/industrial societal models
as tools of social control and to maintain the status quo
in terms of social status, power and wealth distribution
in cruel and evil human manufactured environments.
Sadly monstrous beasts now dominate the planet
'Sovereign and corporate entities' have carved up the earth
with their terrortorialism & 'ownership' to such a degree
that the nurture of nature (described by human control freaks as 'tooth and claw law of the jungle) is exterminated,
like the last member of that amazon tribe,
1st 'discovered' in the 1970's
(described as a lost tribe, they knew exactly where they were) who was murdered by ranchers a few weeks ago.
The human 'masters and riders'
of these out of control beasts
prey on you all
and eat your children.
So be a good 'patriot'

Philippa P.
Philippa P8 years ago

Rape should always be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.

Greenseas gone
kathryn cook8 years ago

Thanks for the post

James Carpenter
Past Member 8 years ago

I have never understood why rape in prison isn't treated exactly the same under the law as any other rape

Phil R.
Phil R8 years ago

Under what conditions would we NOT take rape (in or out of the prison system) seriously? If we are going to warehouse criminals, then we are responsible for their welfare and rehabilitation. This includes making their surroundings safe and protecting them from assaults of any kind.

bob m.
bob m8 years ago

Goes ta show ya. Having the biggest gun don't necessarily make ya 1st world.

BMutiny ThemIDefy

Of course, prison rape takes place in both adult and juvenile facilities; and both males and females, male adults and juveniles, and female adults and juveniles, are victims of it. In one prison, female incarcerated prisoners kept getting PREGNANT - now HOW did that happen?????

There should be NO DEFENSE that sexual contact between prisoner and staff or guards was "consensual" - the prisoner is NOT FREE and could be too-easily pressured to say they gave their "consent"; ANY sexual contact between prisoners and staff or guards, should be regarded as an act of RAPE by the staff, and punished accordingly. Like a child, a prisoner whether adult or juvenile, at ANY age is NOT IN A POSITION TO GIVE "CONSENT".

Juvenile male prisoners should be ENCOURAGED also to speak, and their privacy also protected when they do so. Not ALL testimony has to end up in court! Again, as with pedophile priests, we have to KNOW how widespread this abuse is. SOME will be brave enough to speak out in public about this.

As was stated in other posts, it is REALLY STUPID AND VICIOUS to put non-violent prisoners in with violent ones, and children in with adults.... many do not belong in a prison AT ALL.

This is a TRAGEDY that affects mainly the poor and those without resources, so the rest of us can "afford" to simply not care, it has nothing to do with US or with OUR happy little lifestyles.....

BMutiny ThemIDefy

Speaking of "joking" about rape and prison rape:
I have to say, that in the case of, for example, animal abusers, I have ALL-TOO-OFTEN, and RIGHT HERE ON CARE2, seen posts RECOMMENDING rape-as-a-punishment, or GLOATING about what rapes might happen to an animal abuser {or child abuser} in jail.
[Put him in a jail cell together with a big guy named Bubba......ha ha very funny.]

This shows a consciousness not all that much "higher" than that of the abuser him/herself, I would say.
Yes, you all have seen such posts, you know darn well, exactly what I'm talking about!

Besides being un-compassionate and un-Christian [if that makes any difference to you], such comments also

THINK about it, Care2 members!
If you don't say such things yourself, do you tolerate it in other Care2 members' posts, and not call them out on it?
Do examine "the beam in your own eye".....