Juvenile detention is not intended to be punitive. Rather, juveniles held in secure custody usually receive care consistent with the doctrine of parens patriae, i.e., the state as parent.
That is wikipedia. The US state is a horrible parent; 12% of its “detained” kids are sexually abused each year, versus 4% of adult prisoners. 0.3% of US non-prisoners report rape each year, versus a world median of ~0.05%.
12 percent of incarcerated juveniles … had been raped or sexually abused in the past year by fellow inmates or prison staff. … At 13 detention facilities, nearly one out of three juveniles said they had been victims of some type of sexual abuse. … Other federal studies … suggest that 60,500 adults are victims of rape or sexual misconduct in prisons each year. … the study reflecting that juveniles may be abused at three times the [4%] rate of adults.
- 91% of youth in these facilities were male; 9% were female. …
- 10.8% of males and 4.7% of females reported sexual activity with facility staff.
- 9.1% of females and 2.0% of males reported unwanted sexual activity with other youth.
The US leads the world in its fraction in jail or prison; it has 0.7% vs a world median of ~0.1%.
US folk often express pride that their nation tortures and executes criminals less than other “medieval” nations. But, honestly, torture and execution look pretty good to me when compared with our actual prisons; I might rather be branded with an iron, or hang in a stockade for a few days, than suffer at large chance of rape. Branding or stockades seem less cruel than rape in pretty much any book.
Compared to prison, punishments like torture, exile, and execution are not only much cheaper (the US spends $68B/yr on prisons), but they can also be monitored more easily, letting citizens better see just how much punishment is actually being imposed. And alas, I suspect that is the real problem. With prison, citizens can more easily pretend that they have the prisons they wished for, rather than the prisons they actually have.
Added 6:30p: This also seems a sad example of empire bias. We assume prison rape is the sort of thing a large organization should be able to control, so we presume modest “reform” is sufficient. It’s not.
Added 9Jan: Stunning stat:
95 percent of the youth making such [sex abuse] allegations said they were victimized by female staff.