Washington, D.C., arrests for serious juvenile crime are down 24 percent, the 12-month recidivism rate has dropped 6 percent, and the most serious young offenders are locked up longer than they were four years ago, says the city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, according to the Washington Post. But Cheryl Harris said the agency ignored her pleas to lock up her son for violating his curfew, getting high on marijuana and skipping school. In March, 15-year-old Ryan Harris was shot twice in the head in front of his grandmother’s house while still under government supervision.
The City Council is investigating whether the agency is putting residents and delinquent youths in danger by releasing them from custody too soon. The agency has paid millions in court-ordered fines for poor treatment of children and for doing little to reduce crime. Director Vincent Schiraldi was hired in 2005 to bring the changes that experts said were necessary: more rehabilitation, more counseling, and a focus on family unification. Schiraldi said progress is being made but that even one child killed is too many. Serious juvenile crime dropped 24 percent from January 2004 to August 2008. The recidivism rate, reflecting the percentage of youths re-arrested within a year of release from custody, is 25 percent, lower than in Virginia (38 percent) and Maryland (32 percent).