NEW REPORT: Youth Held With Adults in Overwhelming Majority of States, State Prison Report Finds

Despite federal law, protections from physical and sexual victimization for 1,200 youth held in state prisons vary from state to state, according to new research

Dec 03, 2015, 08:30 ET from Campaign for Youth Justice

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report examines how states house youth under 18 in prisons in a new era of compliance and enforcement of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The report highlights national trends in juvenile arrests, crimes, and incarceration of children in the adult system.

The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) – a national advocacy organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system – released the report today, entitled "Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA's Youthful Inmate Standard."

Science and research conducted over the last 20 years confirm what common sense tells us: kids are different. Despite evidence-based research highlighting the harms of placing youth in adult facilities and the long term costs of incarceration to youth and society, 1,200 youth are in state prisons on any given day across the country, the report finds.

According to author of the report, CFYJ policy director Carmen Daugherty, there is much at stake if PREA is not enforced.

"We hear countless stories of what happens when children are not protected while being housed in adult jails and prisons. As youth arrests decline and states continue to improve juvenile justice systems, now is the time to remove all youth from adult prisons," says Daugherty.

PREA unanimously passed by Congress in 2003, addresses sexual assault and victimization in prisons, jails, lockups, and other detention facilities – all of which are facilities that may house youth.

Key findings in "Zero Tolerance" include:

  • State regulations and parameters for housing youth in adult prisons vary widely;
  • The number of youth incarcerated in the adult prison system has decreased 70% since 2000;
  • Youth of color are disproportionately placed in adult prisons at much higher rates than their white peers;  
  • Youth housed in adult prisons face higher risks of sexual abuse, physical force, and threatened force.

CFYJ is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.  For more on CFYJ's research, please visit


SOURCE Campaign for Youth Justice