Vincent Schiraldi, Washington, D.C.’s acting youth rehabilitation services director, has vowed to reduce drastically the city’s juvenile jail population within six months by developing alternatives for juveniles held for nonviolent crimes, the Washington Post reports. Schiraldi told a D.C. Council committee Friday that his agency will use a new intake system, beginning next month, to refer more juveniles convicted of nonviolent offenses to community programs instead of the city’s Oak Hill Youth Center. The center houses young people who have been convicted of crimes ranging from sexual assault to murder. Schiraldi said he would cut the facility’s population from 240 to 86 by the end of September.
Oak Hill long has been plagued by mismanagement, drug use inside the secured facility, and unstable leadership, which promised improvements that were not implemented. A plan from the administration of Mayor Anthony Williams calls for Oak Hill to close by October 2006. “As we are designing our new system, we must continually ask ourselves, ‘If my kid were in trouble and we had the kind of money we’re spending to lock a kid up at Oak Hill — what would we design to hold them accountable and turn their lives around?’ ” Schiraldi said. “As long as we keep that as our guiding principle, we will succeed.” He proposed creating two evening reporting centers where 50 youths would receive after-school services until 9 p.m., a mentoring program where juveniles would receive three visits daily, and a jobs program with United Parcel Service for 30 youths.