Archive for the ‘Children's Rights’ Category
by Anai Rhoads
According to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), not only are there many prisoners suffering from some form of mental impairment or disability, but the facilities they are placed in offer little to no protection against violent sexual crimes.
The report, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011-12 (NCJ 241399), estimates “6.3 percent of prison inmates and 3.6 percent of jail inmates identified with serious psychological distress reported inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization compared to 0.7 percent for both prison and jail inmates without a mental health problem. Inmates who had been told by a mental health professional that they had a mental disorder reported higher rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization (3.8 percent in prisons and 2.9 percent in jails) than other inmates (0.8 percent in prisons and 0.6 percent in jails).”
In addition, it highlights crimes against juveniles who are admitted without proper evaluations and treatment. Adolescents between the ages of 16-17 in the reported detention centers have faced “unwanted sexual activity with other inmates, abusive sexual activity with other inmates and both willing and unwilling sexual activity with staff.”
The document lists the findings as follows:
Juvenile inmates (1.8 percent) reported rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization similar to those of adult inmates. The rate of staff sexual misconduct for jail inmates ages 16 to 17 (3.3 percent) was higher than for jail inmates ages 35 to 44 (1.5 percent), ages 45 to 54 (0.9 percent) and age 55 or older (0.3 percent). For prison inmates, the rate of staff sexual misconduct did not vary among age groups.
Nationwide, 2.0 percent of all prison inmates and 1.6 percent of all jail inmates reported at least one incident involving another inmate; 2.4 percent of prison inmates and 1.8 percent of jail inmates reported having had sex or sexual contact with facility staff. An estimated 80,600 adult inmates—57,900 in prisons and 22,700 in jails—reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff during 2011-12.
High rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization were reported by violent sex offenders and inmates who identified their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other. Inmates held for violent sex offenses reported higher rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization (3.7 percent in prisons and 3.9 percent in jails) than inmates held for other offenses. Inmates who identified their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other were among inmates with the highest rates of sexual victimization in prisons (12.2 percent) and jails (8.5 percent).
Rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization reported by prison inmates were higher among females (6.9 percent) than males (1.7 percent), higher among whites (2.9 percent) or inmates of two or more races (4.0 percent) than among blacks (1.3 percent) and higher among inmates with a college degree (2.7 percent) than among inmates who had not completed high school (1.9 percent).
Among jail inmates, females (3.6 percent), whites (2.0 percent) and inmates with a college degree (3.0 percent) reported higher rates of inmate-on-inmate victimization than males (1.4 percent), blacks (1.1 percent) and inmates who had not completed high school (1.4 percent).
Rates of staff sexual misconduct were higher among males in jails (1.9 percent) than among females in jails (1.4 percent), and higher among black inmates in prisons (2.6 percent) and jails (2.1 percent) than among white inmates in prisons (1.6 percent) and jails (1.4 percent).
About half of the inmates who reported inmate-on-inmate sexual victimizations—1.1 percent in prisons and 0.7 percent in jails—reported at least one incident of nonconsensual sex, defined as unwanted oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or manual stimulation. About half of the inmates who reported staff sexual misconduct—1.4 percent in prisons and 0.9 percent in jails—said that the sexual contact or activity was willing, though all sexual contact between inmates and staff are legally nonconsensual.
This initiative was part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which focused on 92,449 adult inmates held in 233 state and federal prisons, 358 local jails and 15 special confinement facilities between February 2011 and May 2012.
The report was written by BJS statistician Allen J. Beck and RTI International staff Marcus Berzofsky , Rachel Caspar and Christopher Krebs and may viewed in its entirety here.
Melinda Tankard Reist, Contributing Writer for AnaiRhoads.org
We recently spoke out about online clothing retailer “Cafepress” advertising vulgar, sexualised clothing for babies and children on its website. Onesies that were made available online included “I Love sluts”…”blow job instructor” and “No gag reflex.” We shared an image of just some of these products on Facebook. Thousands shared the image online and voiced their shock and disgust to friends. Many wrote to Cafepress pledging never to shop with them again.
Cafepress posted a response to the protest, both on its own Facebook page and in the comments section of the Collective Shout Facebook page.
It was encouraging to see Cafe Press’s stated intention to remove the products. However weeks after the protest, it appears that Cafepress hasn’t taken this issue seriously at all. “Sexual humor baby clothing” is still a category of clothing on the site with thousands of items listed.
An article about Cafepress published in WA Today featured comments from Justine O’Malley from child abuse prevention organisation Protective Behaviours WA:
“They’re really inappropriate sexualised messages,” she said.
“Of course the infant themselves can’t read it, but other children might be able to and adults can read them; so we’re putting children in a sexualised space.
“Sex and children; those two things just don’t go together.”
You can hear more from Justine O’Malley in an interview on 6PR882 radio. Listen here.
Collective Shout SA coordinator Nicole Jameson
By Laura Litvan & William Selway
Margaret George, a retired widow raising her three young grandchildren in a trailer in Whispering Ranch, Arizona, says her family wouldn’t survive without federal help to pay for electricity.
In March, she paid her $200 power bill thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those costs rise with the temperature, which can top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert town 50 miles northwest of Phoenix.
“I don’t have the money to pay it,” said George, 62, whose $640 energy assistance grant won’t last through the summer. “I would have already gotten it shut off it weren’t for that program — it was either pay the electric bill or it would be my grandchildren going without.”
Hundreds of miles away from the nation’s capital, Americans like Margaret George are experiencing the reality of automatic federal budget cuts on programs little noticed by Washington’s power brokers. At least $80 billion in reductions under a process known as sequestration are curtailing funding for AIDS drugs, help for returning military troops and projects for low-income families who don’t have clout in Congress.
Although lawmakers last month approved an emergency measure to bring an end to air-traffic controller furloughs that sparked flight delays, there is little reason to expect that other cuts will be reversed, said Bill Hoagland, senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
“The reductions are going to remain in effect through the end of 2013,” said Hoagland, a former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee. “I just don’t think there are going to be real opportunities to either drop the reductions or to modify them significantly.”
The grant George received was provided by the Wise Owl Senior Center in Wickenburg, a nonprofit contracted by Maricopa County to run the program, part of HHS’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program. An 8.2 percent mandated funding cut will remove about $285 million from the program in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, according to an Office of Management and Budget report.
Charlie Peterson, the program director for the center, said he expects cutbacks to result in more seniors being unable to pay for air-conditioning as summer temperatures soar.
“There’s just not enough money to go around,” Peterson said. “There are really going to be a lot of people out there who will be living without power.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in February that sequestration will slow U.S. economic growth this year by 0.6 percentage point. Gross domestic product rose at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter, Commerce Department figures released April 26 showed.
Investors are showing little concern about the budgetary uncertainty in Washington. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at 1,626.67 on May 9, a gain of 14 percent this year, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed above 15,000 for the first time on May 7.
“When the sequester first hit, the consequences weren’t immediately apparent because it was trickling out over time,” said Melissa Boteach, director of the Center for American Progress’s Half in Ten Project, which is designed to help cut poverty over the next decade. “You’ll see over the next weeks and months the ways that this is hitting struggling families even more.”
In the weeks before sequestration took effect on March 1, President Barack Obama had warned the cuts would hurt the military and shut campgrounds at popular national parks, delay travelers at airports and cut safety inspections at food plants.
A stopgap measure Obama signed on March 26 restored funding for meat inspections and eased reductions for some social programs, including nutrition aid for low-income families. A month later, Congress acted to boost funding for the Federal Aviation Administration to put an end to air-traffic controller furloughs blamed for delays at U.S. airports.
Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said the cuts are likely to remain at least through the end of this fiscal year.
“We’re going to have to live with it because Republicans have cynically seen this as their opportunity to shrink government,” Connolly said. “Many in their caucus know the cost of everything, but see the value in nothing.”
With lawmakers showing no inclination to roll back the remaining cuts, some of the most visible belt-tightening measures are unfolding in Washington itself.
On May 13, the U.S. National Arboretum, a part of the Department of Agriculture, will begin closing the grounds to the public on Tuesday through Thursday to implement the almost 8 percent budget cut. At the Smithsonian Institution, officials say some exhibits at many of its 19 museums and galleries will be closed at times due to security staffing cuts. The White House has already canceled public tours.
Some federal agencies, in detailed reports sent to Congress, provided the clearest picture yet of the impact of cuts on individual program.
The Energy Department says it will cut $190 million this fiscal year from defense nuclear nonproliferation programs, and $91 million from energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. While the Department of Veterans Affairs is exempt from automatic cuts, programs that help veterans aren’t fully protected, as the Labor Department will ax programs providing employment and training to former soldiers by $13.3 million.
The Education Department says it will cut $3.4 million from funds used to help teach homeless children and youth, and also reduce state grants for adult basic and literacy education by $31 million.
At the Foundation for AIDS Research in New York, analysts estimate as many as 8,610 Americans will lose access to an AIDS Drug Assistance Program funded by HHS, and the National Institutes of Health will lose $153.7 million in AIDS research funding, meaning that 280 research grants would go unfunded, including 31 efforts to develop a vaccine.
About 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, the group said.
Although HHS has sent details of its budget cuts to Congress, the department is “not yet in a position to publicly provide figures on specific elements,” Bill Hall, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress in February that budget reductions at the Centers for Disease Control would translate into 424,000 fewer HIV tests conducted nationwide, which receive grants for prevention measures. Cuts to the Ryan White program, named after the teenager who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion in the 1980s and died, could trigger wait lists for HIV medications, Sebelius said.
“If we divest from AIDS research at this crucial time, we’re really shooting ourselves in the foot, in terms of squandering the epidemic with a cure and a vaccine,” said Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at AmFAR, a New York-based nonprofit group that supports AIDS research. “There’s no question that the impact will be felt, and it will damage scientific research and damage this country’s edge on scientific research.”
Even groups that have secured funding for current operations said the era of federal austerity will eventually have a negative impact on their programs.
At America Works, a New York-based group that is one of the nation’s largest providers of employment services to homeless veterans, officials said they depend on Labor Department grants to help them provide job-hunting help to 450 clients a year. Their high rate of job placement in New York, Washington and Chicago may protect current programs, said Lee Bowes, chief executive officer.
At the same time, hopes for an added grant to help another 75 people in Washington is “probably off the table,” Bowes said. Returning troops need the help: The unemployment rate for male veterans aged 25 to 34 was 10.4 percent in 2012, compared with an 8.1 percent rate for their nonveteran counterparts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said last month.
“Every employer we’re working with wants to give back by hiring veterans,” Bowes said. “If they don’t have a point of access and you can’t find them, they disappear and become a hidden secret.”
Brian Jackson, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, was evicted from his Arlington, Virginia, apartment in February after he lost his job with a contractor of office supplies for the State Department.
Unable to find a job, Jackson, 29, who served from 2004 to 2011, turned to America Works for help. He said the group has arranged four interviews.
“There are so many unemployed veterans,” Jackson said. “For somebody who has fought for their country and served in active duty overseas, to come back to America and not be able to find an stable job, that’s just sad.”