U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds Washington, D.C., says the city should close its problematic juvenile detention center and jail, Oak Hill Youth Center, the Washington Post reports. “It is clear that Oak Hill is not meeting the needs of the children it serves, that the conditions there are abysmal, to say the least, and that this place simply needs to be shut down once and for all,” DeWine said.
DeWine said the city had failed to stop an influx of illegal drugs and had wasted money on contracts that did not provide services.
D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty is sponsoring legislation to shut down Oak Hill in 18 months. In 2001, the mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Youth, Safety and Juvenile Justice Reform recommended that Oak Hill be demolished and replaced with a new building and programs to help teenagers lead law-abiding lives outside the juvenile jail. The federal government provides $15 million annually to the city’s Youth Services Administration, which runs Oak Hill.