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2 Ind. juvenile facilities rank high in DOJ report

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Two Indiana juvenile facilities are cited in a new U.S. Department of Justice report for having high rates of sexual victimization among the young offenders.

The report identified 13 facilities as having a high rate of victimization, which includes Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility and the all-female Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility. More than 36 percent of juvenile offenders at Pendleton reported sexual victimization, which is more than double the national average. Almost 23 percent of youth at the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility reported any sexual victimization while in the facility.

Those numbers are quite high, especially when compared to the 12 percent of youth in facilities around the country who reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another youth or staff member.

The numbers come from a study released Thursday by the DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics that focused on larger facilities - both state and nonstate - that typically hold adjudicated youth for longer periods. More than 9,000 youth answered questionnaires using a computer and audio instructions about sexual incidents while in the facilities between June 2008 and April 2009. The DOJ estimates there are more than 26,000 adjudicated youth held in state operated or large nonstate facilities.

The DOJ defined sexual victimization as any forced sexual activity with another youth and all sexual activity with a staff member.

The report breaks down victimization by another youth or by staff. Seven percent of Pendleton youth reported sexual victimization by another youth; nearly 32 percent claimed they were victimized by staff. At the Indianapolis facility, more than 16 percent said they were victimized by another youth and almost 9 percent claimed to be victimized by staff.

In 2007, St. Joseph Juvenile Judge Peter Nemeth ordered a review and stopped sending females to the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility because of issues such as inadequate staffing, claims of sexual misconduct, and a lack of educational or vocational programs. At that time, the facility housed both males and females, but the Indiana Department of Correction in March 2008 made the facility all-female and relocated the males to other sites. Female youths from the Indianapolis facility were moved to the Madison facility in November 2009.

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