Washington, D.C.’s juvenile detention center, called Oak Hill, is located far from the city in Maryland, where U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) would like to get rid of it, says the Washington Post. Washington’s city government “has been pumping money into a careful renovation of Oak Hill,” says Post columnist Marc Fisher, but “Cardin would force the kids out of his state — he doesn’t know where, just get ’em out.”
A spokesman for the senator says that, “the juvenile offenders would be better off closer to their families.” Replies Fisher: “Actually, many of those who end up at Oak Hill would be best off getting a long vacation from their families and neighborhoods.” Vincent Schiraldi, director of the agency that runs Oakl Hill, is busy pushing reforms, aimed at turning angry, violent kids into productive, or at least less destructive, citizens. Instituting an incentive system for the imprisoned teens, about two dozen of 160 correctional officers have quit as Schiraldi has transitioned to the new approach over the past year. Reform efforts in Missouri, Chicago, and elsewhere have started to make a difference, saving money and reducing recidivism. The new approach seeks to move kids into community programs, some of which are residential. The focus is on job training, art therapy, intensive counseling, student council elections, and teddy bears rather than brawls.