Last year, nine years after the Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed, the federal government laid out final rules aimed at stamping out sexual abuse in America's criminal justice system, with specific provisions for juvenile lockups.
Dallas County's Juvenile Department applied for and was recently awarded a federal grant of $90,000 to help comply with the stricter standards and "to build a culture of zero tolerance for sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and sexual harassment," according to a memo sent to Dallas County commissioners. They are scheduled to vote to accept the grant at their meeting on Tuesday.
The bulk of the grant will go toward hiring a full-time research assistant to gather data and crunch sexual abuse numbers, thereby giving the county a baseline for implementing reforms. The remainder, about $16,000, will be used to print large quantities of educational graphic novels.
Educational how? Well, readers will learn that they may be raped repeatedly by their cellmates; ignored by detention center administrators; ridiculed for being gay; harassed by skeezy probation officers; and groped, either by a 14-year-old girl or the kitchen staff.
They're works of art, really. You can read them in full here. Or, you can peruse the synopses and samples below.
Billy Speaks Out: Billy's playing basketball when he's approached by two neighborhood toughs who ask him to come with him later that night to an empty house. His girlfriend, Sheila (who may or may not be Sheila you'll meet in the next book) urges him not to go, but he has to. "Those are my boys."
Little does he know, his boys brought a gas can and lighter to the vacant house, but their arson attempt is interrupted by the cops. Billy gets thrown in juvie where he's locked in a cell with Roy.
Roy, a large, wild-haired fellow, offers scrawny Billy protection. In return, Billy has to do "special favors," which are represented by a panel filled with the exploding word "BAM," much like a Batman uppercut.
Billy eventually reports the incident, the investigation of which ends in possible criminal charges against Roy.
Carlo's Question: Carlo's dad found a pink skirt while rummaging through his son's things and is pissed that his son might be dressing up like a girl, which is odd given the pink cutoff he's wearing.
To console himself, Carlo hits his stoner friend's joint, gets caught and winds up in a group home. The male counselors there are assholes and make fun of him for being effeminate and wanting to be called "Carla." They make him dress in more typically masculine clothes. One of the other boys wants to make Carlo his "girl," which confuses him.
Carlo reports this to the female counselor, who moves him to an LGBT-friendly location. He fits in much better there.
Sheila's DilemmaSheila goes to a party with her friend Michelle. She's supposed to be designated driver but she has one drink, then another and winds up with her car around a telephone pole.
A judge revokes her license and sentences her to 18 months probation. Her probation officer, Mr. Charles, turns out to be a creeper in case you couldn't tell by the child molester mustache.
Mr. Charles texts Sheila constantly and shows up at her house when her mom's out for meetings. He also starts making her pose for pictures, presumably naked ones.
A classmate finds out about the secret meetings and reports it. There's an investigation, and Mr. Charles and his creepy mustache are thrown in jail.
Mary's Friend: Mary's young, maybe 11, but she doesn't like school, so she doesn't go. She gets caught skipping school and is hauled before a judge, who orders her to report to after-school care at a special center.
There, she finds a friend in Sarah, an older girl who takes her under her wing then, while they are alone, grabs her ass. Mary tells her mom, who tells a case worker who investigates and concludes that abuse has occurred. Problem solved.
Charlie's Report: Charlie keeps getting into trouble after school, which earns him time in a group home. He's told that if he does his chores and listens to his supervisors he'll be free to go.
He's assigned to the kitchen, where he's to work under a broad-shouldered female cook. She is so excited after his first day that she gives him a hug, complete with a firm squeeze on the ass. He learns from his roommate that he's not the first and that several former residents have gone to live with her after leaving the home.
He reports it. She gets fired.