Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) is urging Attorney General Eric Holder to issue federal regulations that would remove children from adult prisons and jails. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), passed by Congress in 2003 is yet to be fully implemented. The purpose of the Act is to stop sexual violence behind bars.
One of the main concerns is the risk youth face when housed in adult prisons and jails.
"When we throw children and youth into adult prison we are in effect throwing them away," Rush said.
"The myth of a growing population of juvenile super-predators who must be treated like adults by our criminal justice system is just that a myth with no basis in fact. What the facts do show is that youth, 18 and younger are 1 percent of the adult prison population but 21 percent of the victims of sexual violence."
Rush joined more than two dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives in writing a letter that urged the Attorney General to issue a final rule that protects juvenile offenders by calling for the removal of all under-18 youth from adult prisons and jails.
Federal studies show that on any given night in America, ten thousand children are held in adult jails and prisons. They are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in juvenile detention facilities.
"The idea that a young person that makes a mistake is equal to an adult that makes a mistake is just not logical" Rush said. "How can we think of ourselves as a great nation when we embrace public policy that ensures the sexual abuse of children? It has to end."