One crisis after another has buffeted the Washington, D.C., Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, reports the Washington Post. At least a dozen juveniles under its care have been charged with murder this year. At least 10 others have been homicide victims. The number of juveniles placed with the department continues to rise. New Beginnings, a facility that opened last year for long-term juvenile detainees, is overcrowded.
The department’s relations with D.C. Superior Court and its juvenile probation unit are strained. With the resignation last week of another interim director, four people will have headed the agency since January. Mayor-elect Vincent Gray inherits responsibility for an agency that, improved as it is from five years ago, still struggles to supervise and rehabilitate the city’s youngest offenders. The city is again debating its obligation to help and its inclination to punish. With the mayoral primary approaching, departing mayor Adrian Fenty decided to ousted previous director Marc Schindler and replaced him with the city’s chief juvenile prosecutor, Robert Hildum. Hildum now has quit after it became clear he was a long shot to head the agency under Gray.