DC Attorney General’s Bold Plan: Transforming Juvenile Justice with Tough Consequences

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Attorney General Brian Schwalb has introduced legislation to reform the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services of the District of Columbia. This is a response to the epidemic of juvenile crimes in the city.

Schwalb said he introduced the legislation as he “has become increasingly concerned” with the work of the Department and believes that youths who commit crimes should “face consequences when they violate the law.”

Schwalb said in a Tuesday statement that residents of all eight Wards have a legitimate demand that their elected officials take immediate action. After our office has prosecuted youths for breaking the law, District officials must take action to prevent reoffending.

He added, “I am preoccupied by outcomes and results as the District’s Chief Prosecutor for Juvenile Crime.” Since taking office last year, my concern has grown about how DYRS ensures that young people who have committed crimes do not reoffend by providing them with adequate supervision and interventions. The ROAD Act is intended to assist in the reestablishment and development of DYRS, a roadmap that will improve public safety, accountability and supervision as well as effective interventions.

The Recidivism Reduction, Oversight, and Accountability for DYRS Act requires the Department to review its policies regarding rehabilitation of juvenile criminals.

This measure also provides for permanent independent oversight of the Department and gives the district courts the authority to intervene when the Department is not providing adequate service to youth.

The proposed legislation was introduced to respond to the increased attention Washington received from the nation in recent years because of the rise in crime. A significant part of the crime is attributed to juveniles. The D.C. Council, along with Mayor Muriel BOWSER have passed several pieces of legislation in the last year to combat the alarming crime trend in the district.

The D.C. Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in 2022 conducted a study which revealed that 92.7% juveniles committed to the Department were arrested again. The attorney general cited this statistic in his announcement.