WBEZ | sexual victimization http://www.wbez.org/tags/sexual-victimization Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en New report says inadequate staffing allowed for sexual misconduct in youth prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/new-report-says-inadequate-staffing-allowed-sexual-misconduct-youth-prisons <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IDJJ_Admin_550_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A report from an outside consultant says inadequate staffing and oversight led to high rates of sexual abuse in Illinois youth prisons.</p><p>Arthur Bishop, director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, said the department is hiring more workers &ndash; but he said the department is going to need a budget increase next year to get staffing to correct levels.</p><p>The report, released Wednesday, was prepared by Kinsale Management Consulting, a California-based firm that previously investigated sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. It was commissioned by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice after a June report by The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics ranked Illinois as one of the worst in the country for sexual victimization in youth prisons.</p><p>The study credits the department for responding quickly to that ranking, but it also says some of the state&rsquo;s measures to prevent sexual misconduct are outdated and insufficient.</p><p>Specifically, the report calls on the department to update its camera system, hire more prison staff and do a better job of investigating allegations.</p><p>Department of Juvenile Justice Director Arthur Bishop said they&rsquo;ve already hired 25 new workers, but he couldn&rsquo;t give specifics about how many more they need or when the hires would occur.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t give you an exact number,&quot; he said, &quot;but I can tell you without hesitation that we are looking to fill all critical vacancies.&quot;</p><p>Bishop also said the department is going to spend almost $2 million on new cameras.</p><p>The department has until 2017 to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, and will soon be operating under a federal consent decree with regards to its education and mental health care. Both of those will likely mean more staff, and more money.</p><p>Bishop couldn&rsquo;t give an estimate of how much the total improvements will cost.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re hoping that the General Assembly, when our budget comes about, will work with us on not only meeting these needs of staffing but also the upcoming consent decree requirements and the [Prison Rape Elimination Act] requirements that have some impact on staffing ratios,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The report was conducted over a 60-day period. It involved a review of the department&rsquo;s records and a visit to each of Illinois&rsquo; six youth prisons, where researchers interviewed staff, former workers and youth.</p><p>One of the key findings of the report was that the federal survey was likely much more accurate than the department&rsquo;s own sexual abuse figures.</p><p>While the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice&rsquo;s internal records indicated a sexual victimization rate of .006 percent, the BJS survey indicated a rate of 15.4 percent, more than 2,500 times higher.</p><p>The consultant&#39;s report made public Wednesday blamed this inconsistency on victim underreporting, inadequate record keeping and failure of staff to report sexual misconduct.</p><p>In fact, researchers noted a &ldquo;code of silence&rdquo; among some prison staff members who told researchers they would not tell on their fellow employees if they knew about misconduct.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him on twitter @pksmid.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Oct 2013 16:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/new-report-says-inadequate-staffing-allowed-sexual-misconduct-youth-prisons Experts say Illinois youth prisons need independent ombudsman http://www.wbez.org/news/experts-say-illinois-youth-prisons-need-independent-ombudsman-107629 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chi.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission says Gov. Pat Quinn must act quickly to protect kids in the state&rsquo;s youth prisons.</p><p>Retired Judge George Timberlake says incarcerated youth need to be able to complain safely to an independent government employee.</p><p>&ldquo;When we created the Department of Juvenile Justice, one of the fundamental ideas was an ombudsman, and that didn&rsquo;t happen. So that&rsquo;s something that can be almost immediately created,&rdquo; Timberlake said.</p><p>Timberlake called for the governor to act after a recent federal report found that Illinois was among the worst states in the nation when it comes to reports by young people of sexual victimization..</p><p>According to the report, based on surveys collected from inmates last year, about 15 percent of kids in Illinois youth prisons reported being sexually victimized while inside.</p><p>Nationally the average was about 10 percent.</p><p>In an emailed statement, a spokesman for Gov. Quinn wrote that &ldquo;a comprehensive top-to-bottom review of the agency and its procedures has been ordered.&rdquo;</p><p>That review will include an outside expert visiting every youth prison and interviewing incarcerated youth.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the key issues to be included in the comprehensive evaluation is the creation of an independent oversight body or ombudsman for investigations into allegations of abuse,&rdquo; according to the statement.</p><p>But Timberlake says the governor shouldn&rsquo;t wait for recommendations from outside experts, he should deploy an ombudsman now.</p><p>Timberlake and other juvenile justice advocates say an ombudsman would help fix a grievance process that right now forces kids in youth prisons to file complaints with the prison&rsquo;s leadership.</p><p>John Maki, head of the prison watchdog John Howard Association, says that essentially means incarcerated youth are forced to &ldquo;complain about the guards to the guards.&rdquo;</p><p>Department of Juvenile Justice Director Arthur Bishop called the report&rsquo;s findings serious and disturbing and said he is taking immediate action.</p><p>That includes creating a 24-hour hotline for youth to call with concerns, and a youth commission that will help advise him.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to make sure that our youth are safe and make sure that our youth have a voice, and that&rsquo;s very important that we find out where was the voice of the youth?&rdquo; Bishop said.</p><p>Jennifer Florent, a department&rsquo;s spokeswoman, wrote in an email that &ldquo;the creation of an ombudsman is one of the items that we will be discussing with the experts.&rdquo;</p><p>At the end of the day Monday, Florent said experts for the new panel DJJ is creating had not yet been confirmed,&nbsp; so she could not provide names to WBEZ.</p><p>Maki says prisons are ripe for the kind of sexual abuse identified in the report, and one way to prevent sexual victimization from happening is to allow an outside group or individual unfettered access to youth prisons and the kids inside them.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 07:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/experts-say-illinois-youth-prisons-need-independent-ombudsman-107629