"Even though the report is based on anonymous surveys, I want the committee to analyze the report for any significant data which could help lead to arrests and convictions for staff sexual misconduct," said Commissioner Avery Niles.
The commissioner said if the panel -- which focuses on compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act -- presents “actionable” findings “he intends to assign the case to a special internal affairs investigator for follow up and possible prosecution if evidence warrants,” stated a release from the department.
A federal report released Thursday stated almost one in three juvenile residents of Paulding County's Regional Youth Detention Center participating in a random survey in 2012 reported a staff member sexually abused them – the highest percentage in the nation among facilities it studied.
The Paulding facility, a short-term detention center that holds suspects before they go to trial, can keep up to 100 youth of both sexes.
The report from the U.S. Department of Justice stated 32 percent of those surveyed randomly last year at the facility on Industrial Boulevard North in Dallas reported sexual abuse by a staff member.
A total of 29 were surveyed, and nine reported a sexual assault, the report stated.
"We're truly concerned to hear these allegations of sexual misconduct coming from juvenile residents who responded to the survey last year," Niles said in a prepared statement. "However we are also encouraged to see our residents speak up, speak out, and say 'no' to sexual abuse whether it's inside or outside our secure facilities.
“From the moment they walk in our centers, we work hard to educate our youth in custody so they won't be intimidated about seeking help if they should ever encounter these types of abuses," the commissioner said.
The department has formed a standing advisory committee to monitor strict compliance with the rape elimination act in all Georgia juvenile detention centers, the release stated. "We have a zero tolerance policy in Georgia for [Prison Rape Elimination Act] violations," Niles said.
Niles said the committee would report directly to him with their findings on the survey.
The results of the 2012 National Survey of Youth in Custody included four Georgia juvenile detention centers in a national list of 13 facilities with the highest rates of sexual misconduct. The Georgia data was based on survey answers provided anonymously by youth in custody at several Juvenile Justice detention facilities.