by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Twenty sheriff offices across North Carolina, including three in the area, are on notice.
The American Civil Liberties Union Claims they’re not doing enough to protect juvenile inmates from being sexually assaulted in prison.
Inmates under the age of 18 represent 1 percent of the jail population in the U.S., but in 2005 they were 21 percent of all victims of sexual violence.
The ACLU is targeting North Carolina because it is one of two states that allow 16- and 17-year-old inmates to be housed with adults.
Under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, any inmate under 18 must have separate common spaces, sleeping areas and shower areas.
The ACLU said three local counties have failed to comply.
ACLU North Carolina Policy Director Sarah Preston says, "They have not doing anything to come into compliance otherwise there would be something in their records they could send us."
The North Carolina Sheriffs Association says the ACLU only requested certain records and sent us a statement saying: "If you ask a poorly worded question, you get an answer that may not be what you are looking for."
The ACLU says more than 60 sheriff offices did send them records.
Channel 9 spoke with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. They said their attorney did respond to our letter for that request, and said they've been in compliance for years.
Mecklenburg County Chief Deputy Sheriff Felicia McAdoo said, “We do classifications to identify those vulnerable populations and we make every attempt to keep people safe."
Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said he houses the younger inmates in a separate area, but he doesn’t have the space to follow all of the regulations.
Rowan County officials said, "Depending on size and space challenges its hard to say for sure any one facility is 100 percent PREA compliant. We are currently working towards this goal and we are putting in place measures to keep us compliant in the future. We are updating policies, looking at training, officer reporting and other avenues that will continue or better our already met compliance codes set fourth by PREA."
The Department of Justice has given the state of North Carolina until May 14 to send them documents regarding PREA compliance. The Governor’s Office said they are working on that submission.
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