ANC6B Rejects Youth Rehabilitation Act Amendments without More Info
by Larry Janezich
Last night, ANC6B voted to oppose a resolution by Hill East Commissioner Denise Krepp putting ANC6B on the record in support of limiting the application of the Youth Rehabilitation Act (YRA) to non-violent offenses and to one-time use only. The vote was 3 ayes – 5 nays – and 1 abstention. It was the consensus of the majority that the proposal was not supported by available data. Instead, the Commission passed a proposal by the new Chair of the Commission, Chander Jayaraman, supporting a comprehensive review of the YRA including but not limited to the specific application of the YRA to violent crime and repeat offenders. The vote was 7 – 0 – 2, with Krepp and Samolyk abstaining.
Councilmember Charles Allen, newly appointed Chair of the Judiciary Committee, has announced he will hold hearings on the YRA in February .
The vote last night came after Krepp’s emotional appeal in support of the language, recounting a rape which occurred in her neighborhood by Antwon Pitt, who she said, had been a beneficiary of the YRA. She said that the YRA was passed for a good purpose – to give individuals a second chance – but that the law is very broad and “without limit except for the crime of murder.” Krepp cited her personal history in dealing with the victims of rape and said, “I can’t do it anymore.” Krepp told the commission that if she lost the vote on Tuesday night, she will continue to put it on the agenda “every single time” the Commission meets: “I will not allow anyone else to be a victim. Not on my watch.” She did not explain how her resolution would prevent any more violent crime. In fact, several in the audience who work in criminal justice said that the proposed changes would, if anything, increase it.
Commissioners Oldenburg and Loots spoke forcefully against Krepp’s resolution. Oldenburg said that Krepp was asking the Commission go on record in support very specific language when “we don’t have the data” to support it. Loots said he could not support language proposing a specific remedy which says, in effect, that at this stage we know the solution to the problem with the criminal justice system. Commissioner Hoskins also spoke against the resolution, saying that she was deeply disturbed that the Washington Post produced a series based on data that we don’t have and feared it would be used to justify changes with unintended consequences. She also expressed concern about the definition of what constitutes the list of violent crimes which Krepp’s language refers to. (The tiny handful of residents who regularly attend PSA 108 meetings have heard Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Klein refer to actions that many residents would be surprised to find fall under the definition of violent crime.)
Commissioner Samolyk supported Krepp’s resolution saying passage would give the ANC “street cred” and “get the ball rolling” on the review of the YRA. Commissioner Ridge also supported Krepp, citing the “surgical precision” of the language and stating that the language “precludes nothing.”