D.C. Leaders Pledge to Reform Problematic Youth Rehab Act

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The mayor, attorney general and council leaders of Washington, D.C., are pledging to work together to reform the city’s second-chance law for youthful offenders, likely putting curbs on the leniency measure that allows repeat and violent offenders to quickly return to the streets, reports the Washington Post. The officials said they had been unaware of the effects of the District’s Youth Rehabilitation Act before a series of stories by the Post found a pattern of violent offenders sentenced under the act going on to rob, rape or kill. Since 2010, 121 defendants previously sentenced under the Youth Act have been charged with murder — 1 in 5 of all suspects charged with murder in the city in that period. A quarter of the killings occurred when the suspects were on probation, often in lieu of any prison sentence.

In a letter sent Friday to local and federal criminal justice leaders, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser called for a deep but swift examination of the Youth Act over the next six months. Bowser said she wants reforms ready for consideration by the time the D.C. Council convenes for its fall legislative session. The mayor suggested that the Youth Act, which provides a package of leniency options unique in the United States, should no longer be available to anyone convicted of a violent crime.

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