Sex abuse at Albany youth correctional facility twice national average, data shows

Data has been released by the Department of Justice showing that 14.3% of the 42 girls that took a sexual abuse survey at Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility answered that they had been victimized while in the Albany facility.

Posted: Jan 6, 2020 6:36 PM

ALBANY, Ore. -- Data has been released by the Department of Justice showing that 14.3% of the 42 girls that took a sexual abuse survey at Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility answered that they had been victimized while in the Albany facility.

Those results are more than double the national average of sexual abuse in youth correctional facilities, which is 7.1%.

All other Oregon juvenile facilities fell below the national average, with the Eastern Oregon Youth Correction Facility in Burns having the lowest rate of sexual abuse reports at 4.3%.

The data does not specify whether the sexual abuse was being committed by other youth in custody or correctional officers working at the facility.

Benjamin Chambers of the Oregon Youth Authority said they need to narrow down who is actually sexually abusing the girls in order for them to properly take action. 

"Of course it's concerning for us that we would see something like this. It's also really startling because our experience from our data, our own surveys, is that the youth themselves actually feel safe," said Chambers. "So if the federal survey is different from that, then we really have to take a hard look at what's going on."

Jason Davis, a Lane County spokesman, said Serbu Youth Correctional Facility takes many precautions and uses prevention tactics to avoid sexual abuse in their facility.

"If in that time, when we are entrusted with their care, and they are sexually assaulted, regardless of whether its from another peer, an incarcerated youth, or if its from a staff member or whomever, that's something that just cannot happen," said Davis. 

Chambers said the Oregon Youth Authority is currently working on a plan that will attempt to prevent sexual abuse from happening in Oak Creek, as well as all other youth correctional facilities throughout the state of Oregon.

"Keeping kids safe is part of our mission. It is actually something that we do pay attention to all the time and every day. Our staff are well trained, we do a lot to educate youths about this issue, and making sure we are aware and can respond when incidents like this happen," Chambers said. 

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