Juveniles, workers from inside detention center recently prosecuted
(WMC-TV) - A recent study from the US Department of Justice reveals major problems related to sexual assault at the John S. Wilder Youth Development Center in Somerville. District Attorney Mike Dunavant said he is familiar with the problems inside the center.
Dunavant, who serves Fayette County, said he has prosecuted juveniles and workers from inside the center.
"Any victimization, especially sexual, is disturbing and even more if its by a staff member," said Dunavant.
The John Wilder Youth Development Center in Somerville ranks at the top of a recent survey for sexual victimization inside the center.
According to the survey, the Wilder Center sits at a 19.5 percent rate when it comes to youth forced into sex by fellow inmates or staff members.
That is well above the state average of 13 percent and the national average of 9.5 percent.
"We don't know how many of them were ultimately substantiated by criminal investigators, how many were unfounded," continues Dunavant.
West TN District Attorney said he meets with Wilder staff every fall.
He says he has not prosecuted an incident there since March 2012.
"My understanding is there was new personnel in place, increased scrutiny, increased training and I thought those numbers had been declining," said Dunavant.
Dunavant says he will push for additional changes in policy that lead to additional staff training, supervision, and proper reporting of any kind of sexual crimes within the center.
He is also planning an additional meeting with local and state officials to try and bring these numbers down.
The numbers from the Wilder Youth Development Center and other juvenile detention centers are detailed in the report from the U.S. Department of Justice. You can view the report by clicking here.
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