WASHINGTON, April 4, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- During the month of April to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month, thousands of individuals and organizations will be calling on their governors to cease the practice of placing youth in adult jails and prisons in order to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
Passed unanimously by Congress in 2003, PREA restricts the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) adopted a standard that restricts the placement of youth in adult facilities and safeguards children in these facilities.
By September 2013, Governors must begin auditing detention and correctional facilities to ensure full compliance with PREA or risk losing a percentage of federal funding allocated for justice programs in their state, by complying with the following:
Banning the housing of youth in the general adult population;
Prohibiting contact between youth and adults in common areas, and ensuring youth are constantly supervised by staff; and
Limiting the use of isolation which causes or exacerbates mental health problems for youth.
It is crucial that governors fully protect children from the dangers of adult jails and prisons. Rather than try to segregate children from adults in adult jails and prisons which often leads to solitary confinement, governors should implement best practices by removing youth from adult jails and prisons.
"The PREA standards will protect hundreds of thousands of kids prosecuted in the adult system every year, and get us one step closer to completely removing youth from adult jails and prisons" said President and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice, Liz Ryan. "We hope that as states implement these important standards they use this opportunity to reconsider the practice of trying youth as adults overall."
Every year, about 250,000 children are exposed to the dangers of the adult criminal justice system. The states that will be most affected by this new rule are the 13 states (NC, NY, CT, GA, IL, LA, MA, MO, MI, NH, SC, TX, and WI) which end juvenile court jurisdiction at 16 or 17, instead of the age of 18. Although defined by state law as "adults", this new rule clarifies that all youth under the age of 18 deserve extra protections.
These federal regulations represent the first time the U.S. government has created national standards to eliminate sexual abuse in prisons, jails, juvenile detention facilities, community corrections facilities, and police lock-ups.
Please visit CFYJ's fact sheet on the Prison Rape Elimination Act, by visiting here: http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/preac.html
Join the conversation on #ImplementPREA. Follow CFYJ on Twitter and Facebook.
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.
For more background on this issue, please visit www.campaignforyouthjustice.org.
CONTACT: Aprill O. Turner firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 558-3580, ext. 20Source:Campaign for Youth Justice/ Justice Policy Institute