A top corrections official pledged swift action following a report that shows Illinois’ imprisoned juveniles report more incidents of sexual abuse behind bars than young inmates in almost every other state.

But a watchdog group suggested Tuesday that the changes don’t go far enough and should warrant an outside review.

The Justice Department’s yearly report listed Illinois among the five worst states in terms of instances of juveniles reporting being sexually abused by other inmates or the lockups’ staffers. More than 15 percent of juvenile inmates in Illinois said they were sexually victimized last year, 35 percent higher than the national average of 9.5 percent, according to the study of 326 juvenile confinement sites between February and September of last year.

Only California, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina had a higher rate than Illinois.

The chief of Illinois’ juvenile corrections, Arthur Bishop, on Monday called the findings “concerning” and vowed a planned top-to-bottom review of Illinois’ six juvenile centers by a team headed by “two prominent experts who have done high-level investigations” would root out and resolve the problem.

“We really want to be guided by these experts,” Bishop, who has headed the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice since 2010, told The Associated Press, declining to publicly identifying those reviewers.

“Even whether it was 1 percent (of young inmates reporting sexual abuse), we would be concerned,” he said. “I have zero tolerance for sexual abuse of youth in our care, and this does bring to the forefront the need for us to hone in on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

The director of the Juvenile Justice Initiative watchdog group labeled that effort “a good first step” but argued that routine scrutiny by an inspector general “would be a more permanent solution.”

The new 64-page report, released last week, “clarifies the need for some independent oversight,” Elizabeth Clarke added Tuesday, calling the Justice Department’s findings “alarming to everyone.”

“It’s a shocking abuse of fundamental human rights,” she said. “I believe that these large-scale, correctional style-facilities tend to be isolated. They don’t get many family visits, and kids don’t get attorneys. There aren’t really independent eyes and ears going in and out and checking on things. That’s missing in this system.”

Illinois’ grappling with the issue comes as the rate of reported sexual victimization across the country actually has been declining, from 12.6 percent during the first such study a half decade ago to less than 10 percent last year.

Illinois’ cost-cutting recently eliminated the Joliet youth center, which the report said had among the nation’s highest rates of sexual victimization, affecting one of every five inmates there.

Assistant Warden Donald Rumsey of Illinois Youth Center-Harrisburg said facility personnel were not authorized to talk to the media. He referred inquiries to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

(8) comments

Huey 1

Elizabeth Clark!! This is the same witch who was in the middle of closing IYC Murphysboro. Guess her word is gold!! Looks like harrisburg is next in her crosshairs.

evil philanthropist1
evil philanthropist1

Illinois has proven once again to be at the apex of the dung-heap. We can thank Gov. Potato Head, the criminals and mopes we elect to legislate this foul place, and the filthy bureaucrats who administer our bankrupt institutions. BRAVO, you disgraceful bunch of losers. I despise every one of you, collectively and individually.

boone76
boone76

I am not for coddling criminals but this is crazy. I say the same thing for adult criminals. A judge sentencing anyone to say...... 2 years, never reads 2 years of sexual assault. What kind of justice system are we running here?

I am all for making criminals turning big rocks into little rocks if the case bares it.....but being the victim of sexual assault should never be part of the sentence nor passively dismissed.

OLD JOE
OLD JOE

Have you ever talked, or knew anyone that has been in prison? I know lots of people that is, or has been in prison. They all say sex in prison is inevitable. One little guy at the coal mine, an alcoholic has been in prison several times for DUI and driving on revoked.
Said at first it hurts, after awhile you start to like it. And said the guards don't care. If you don't want screwed, then don't commit a crime to get in prison.

HMmmmsez

Way back when.Talk was. They use to lace prison food with salt peter to reduce inmates sexual appetite. Same thing in the armed forces were some were suspect of a bromide being slipped into their coffee and or tea to reduce GI's randiness..

HMmmmsez

Faith is an easy out. Realistically speaking. Most times. Its far from what really is or isn't. Common sense rarely prevails. We are d*m lucky we aren't stuck with an overpowering religion that doesn't value life. Wish I could say the same for the Middle East.

HMmmmsez

What? No law suits? Seems to me the State of Illinois is liable for negligence of duty.

Diogenes
Diogenes

Agreed Hummer, this type of story weakens what faith I have left in my fellow human beings.

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