Nicholas Kristof on America’s Prison Blind Spot
Nicholas Kristof has this commendable editorial in the New York Times today, urging Americans to devote more attention to “the horrors that unfold in American prisons — especially juvenile correctional facilities — on a far larger scale than at Guantánamo”:
We all have blind spots, and I think one of mine — shared by many other Americans, perhaps including you — has to do with prisons.
A stunning new Justice Department special report, released just this month, underscores how widespread rape is in youth correctional facilities. It found that almost one youth in eight reported being sexually assaulted while behind bars in the last year.
That means that a child in custody is about twice as likely to be raped as an adult behind bars, based on similar surveys of adult prisoners. As The New York Review of Books wrote on its blog, we face a “crisis of juvenile prison rape.”
Surprisingly, the new survey suggests that the biggest predators are not other inmates but prison staff — and female staff members offend as much as the males do. More than 10 percent of boys in juvenile correctional facilities said that they had had sex with staff, most of whom were women.