DC's youth sentencing program, recidivism, and failures at "rehabilitation"
DC's Youth Rehabilitation Act stresses the opportunity for rehabilitation over trying youths as "adults" with the possibility of very long adult sentences if found guilty, instead sentencing youths to much shorter terms, no terms but with monitoring, etc.
For many many years, Washington Post columnist Colbert King has been writing about the failures of the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services to properly manage, monitor, and rehabilitate youth criminals, recounting many many terrible incidents where youths and young adults under the supervision of DYRS commit heinous acts.
Because of a string of some particularly bad incidents ("How an accused rapist kept getting second chances"), the Washington Post did an investigation and published a very long piece yesterday, "Second-chance law for young criminals puts violent offenders back," about the systemic problems.
Note that the Washington Times ran a series about problems with DYRS back in 2010:
-- "Part 1: Youths lost to violence often in city's supervision"
-- "Part 2: DYRS wards increasingly violence-prone"
-- "Part 3: 'Anti-prison' at root of DYRS problems"
-- "Part 4: Violent crime of DYRS wards knows no bounds"
Why can't the model of the DC Pretrial Services Agency be applied to the youth criminal justice system? Interestingly, for adults accused of crimes, DC's pretrial supervision/incarceration system is considered a national model, and DC is a national leader in limiting incarceration and not requiring bail.
The DC Pretrial Services Agency unit of the court system manages this process and for the most part "gets it right," limiting incarceration to the people with the greatest propensity for violence. (Of course, the system is not perfect.)
-- The D.C. Pretrial Services Agency: Lessons From Five Decades of Innovation and Growth, Pretrial Justice Institute
It does not appear that the youth criminal evaluation and monitoring system has developed in a similar fashion.
Without such a rigorous system, the liberal-progressive approach of giving youthful criminals the benefit of the doubt, tends to be quite problematic, as the most recent Washington Post investigation, the many many columns by Colbert King, and the previous coverage by the Washington Times indicate.
Other approaches to reducing youth crime. While Operation Ceasefire in Boston ("Straight Outta Boston," Mother Jones) focused on gangs, it was part of a broader program called the Boston Strategy to Reduce Youth Violence, and the combined approach is relevant to interdicting youth violence more generally, and is definitely worth taking up in DC, along with approaches comparable to the "Los Angeles police department "Community Safety Partnership".
The Boston Strategy to Prevent Youth Violence has three essential elements. The most concrete, visible element consists of programs: key law enforcement programs, Operation Night Light and Operation Cease Fire; and a broad array of prevention and intervention programs. A second key element is the principles that inspire and guide those programs and make them effective. The third element is the most intangible, but also the most indispensable. It is the collaborative, problem-solving process by which the principles and programs were developed. ...Interestingly, Mayor Bowser proposed a program similar to Boston's Operation Night Light, but for adult criminals, in the wake of DC's uptick in murders, as part of a broader set of anti-crime initiatives, and it was opposed by community activists.
Operation Night Light is a partnership between police and probation that provides the court with a tool to enforce the terms of probation. Teams of police and probation officers together make evening visits to the homes of youthful probationers to ensure the terms of probation are being met.