Criminal Justice Officials Brief PSA 107 on Juvenile Rehabilitation/Adult Detention
by Larry Janezich
At last Thursday’s PSA 107 meeting at Northeast Library, Seema Gajwani, DC Attorney General Racine’s Special Counsel on Juvenile Justice Reform, outlined work of the Juvenile Section of the DC Attorney’s Public Safety Division. She said that rehabilitation is the preferred method of dealing with low risk offenders. The services for rehabilitation include diversion programs, such as the Alternative to Court Experience (ACE) – an evidence-based intervention to assess a youth’s risks and needs and determine how to best to intervene. The number one intervention is family therapy. Another diversion program which has only been in use for 5 or 6 months is the Restorative Justice Program, which attempts to address the needs of victims and offenders by means of a long dialogue involving the victim and the offender and their families, where the offender is held accountable by admitting to the victim what he/she did, and the other participants explain how the offense affected them. Participation is these programs are not available to offenders whose crimes involve guns or to those with long criminal records. Preliminary analysis indicates an 80% success rate one year out for offenders who complete the programs, as opposed to a 40% success rate nationally.
Gajwani said that her office does not prosecute under the Youth Rehabilitation Act – which she said was mis-named, since 8 – 22 year old offenders falling under its province are considered adults, and prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office. She did express interest in an idea raised by an audience member about steering individuals sentenced under the YRA to the Juvenile Section’s rehabilitation programs rather than sentencing them to relatively meaningless hours of community service and promised to carry the idea back to the agency. For more on the Juvenile Section, see here: http://oag.dc.gov/page/juvenile-section
Gajwani was followed by Doug Klein, Assistant United States Attorney in DC’s United States Attorney’s Office. Klein summarized his office’s detention practices in the prosecution of serious adult crime, which, he noted, is heard in federal court as opposed to juvenile crime cases which are tried in DC Superior Court.
Klein says that DC does not have a money bond system – “we have a system which says you won’t be held because you can’t pay.” The majority of crimes are misdemeanors, and thus a majority of offenders are not held, but released on personal recognizance.
Federal prosecutors have several options regarding detention or treatment after an arrest. Individuals accused of a violent crime are automatically held for 3 days, then undergo a hearing to decide if the offender should be held for up to 100 days pending trial. In addition, prosecutors have other options. They may ask for detention in cases:
where the accused has outstanding criminal cases or a long criminal record;
where the accused is on probation, in violation of probation or supervised release;
and where the accused is a flight risk.
Prosecutors can also ask for ask for high intensity supervision monitored by the Pretrial Services Agency if the offender has a stable place to live, a phone number. High intensity security involves monitoring by the Independent federal Pretrial Services Agency and wearing a GPS device which is monitored by a second federal entity, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA). In addition, prosecutors can ask that a case be referred to Mental Health Court for sentencing involving in-and outpatient mental health services and drug testing. For more on the US Attorney’s office, see here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc
Following the presentations, MPD Lt. Crystal Beslow, explained MPD’s return to the “Sector Concept” of the 1990’s. The revival of the older concept, she said, would allow greater allocation of resources to address crime and community policing rather than confining resources to one PSA. Longer 10 hour overlapping shifts and a 4 day work week will permit a higher concentration of officers during peak crime hours and works to the benefit of officers who will have longer weekends. For more on the Sector Concept, see here: http://bit.ly/2l5tsDV
The appearance of the officials at the PSA meeting was arranged by ANC6A Commissioner Scott Price, who noted at the end of the meeting that CM Charles Allen would hold a City Council Roundtable on sentencing in June.