Washington, D.C., officials are compiling a list of 60 of the most serious juvenile offenders in detention and will share information on their backgrounds with police and some community groups before allowing the youths to return home, especially to high-crime neighborhoods, the Washington Post reports. Under the program announced by Mayor Adrian Fenty, organizations such as Peaceoholics will be asked to perform background checks on youths up for release. The goal is to determine whether neighborhood disputes might jeopardize the juvenile’s chances for success after release and whether there are any threats against the juvenile or his family. If significant concerns are raised, a youth’s release could be delayed or he could be sent somewhere else.
Privacy is a long-standing tenet of the juvenile system, considered important so as not to ruin a young person’s life. Vincent N. Schiraldi, the director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, said the emphasis in the program is on safety for the juvenile offenders and the community around them. It is illegal to make information about a juvenile’s criminal record public. Information that is shared with police and community groups that offer services to released offenders is allowed because it is considered part of the treatment plan. Liz Ryan of the Campaign for Youth Justice, which advocates for youths in the juvenile system, said the release of juvenile information is a significant concern. “I have to see what information they are releasing and to whom,” she said. “But I do think these community-based programs are a huge step forward.”