Juvenile crime is rising in the Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles Ramsey is trying to sell a D.C. Council committee on a controversial plan to help buck the trend, reports the Washington Post. He wants the case records of the most dangerous juvenile offenders — information he says is often unavailable to investigators because of privacy laws — released to his department. “One out of every six juveniles arrested in D.C. today is charged with a violent offense, compared with one out of every 20 adults arrested,” Ramsey told the council’s Judiciary Committee. “Today, it is not uncommon for us to see packs of three or four or more juveniles, some of them armed, committing street robberies in our city.”
Ramsey said detectives need better tools to track underage suspects who drift in and out of the juvenile justice system below the official radar. Ramsey spoke on behalf of a bill that would give police access to criminal records of juveniles, home addresses of the juveniles and their family members, and other sensitive information. Police would be able to find out about placements in group homes or juvenile detention facilities. The records would be made available only for juveniles arrested three or more times or for juveniles accused of a single violent crime or unauthorized use of a vehicle. The Justice 4 D.C. Youth! Coalition — a group of parents, youths and community advocates — criticized the bill as an unnecessary intrusion that could lead to police harassment. Ramsey said police are talking about youths who get fourth, fifth and sixth chances, because they are usually on the street soon after being arrested, and they turn the juvenile justice system into a revolving door. “The kids think it’s a joke, and, quite frankly, it is,” Ramsey said.