Washington, D.C., Juvenile Justice Chief Fired

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Washington, D.C., officials have forced the chief of the city’s juvenile justice agency to resign. They vowed to take steps to reform the agency, including the creation of a panel to examine whether teenagers charged with or convicted of crimes are receiving adequate help and supervision, the Washington Post reports.

Gayle L. Turner was asked to resign as chief of the Youth Services Administration by her boss, Yvonne D. Gilchrist, the acting director of the D.C. Department of Human Services. Gilchrist said Youth Services has not done enough to collect information on the juveniles under its care, including how often they are rearrested while under agency supervision. Without such information, she said, it is difficult to determine which programs work. “What do we do to keep them from churning back into the system?” Gilchrist asked. “How do you keep the children from doing the same thing over and over again?”

Turner, 50, appointed in July 1998, will leave the $114,682-a-year position next month. Her resignation comes a week after The Washington Post published a series of articles that examined the treatment of juveniles and foster children in group homes, a psychiatric hospital and out-of-town residential treatment centers. The newspaper found that many children are left to languish in these facilities and that juveniles run away from them nearly 800 times a year. Since 1999, nine people have been slain by juvenile runaways.

Youth Services has a $40 million budget and about 310 employees. It is responsible for around 400 juveniles who have been convicted and placed under city supervision.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37190-2003Jul23.html?nav=hptop_tb

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