Vincent N. Schiraldi, director of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, is leaving for New York. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday that Schiraldi would be the city's new commissioner of the Department of Probation.
"Reducing crime requires tough law enforcement and smart, aggressive policing, but it also means ensuring that those who've been arrested and sentenced to probation don't get into trouble again," Bloomberg said in a statement. "I know Vinny will bring the innovative thinking that has produced success at rehabilitation agencies around the country to the Probation Department ... "
In 2005, Schiraldi, founder and former executive director of the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, was well known as an advocate of alternative juvenile detention when then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams tapped him to head the youth rehabilitation services department.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty kept him in place when he took office in 2007. "For nearly five years, Vinny Schiraldi has been a tremendous asset to the District, aggressively reforming the city's juvenile justice system," Fenty said in a statement. "He's created and implemented innovative programs that will serve as national best practice models for years to come. Some of the District's most troubled youths have greatly benefited from his work and commitment during my Administration as well as the previous Williams Administration. I wish Schiraldi much success, and congratulate Mayor Bloomberg on an excellent choice for probation commissioner."
Schiraldi has been recognized nationally for turning around the District's troubled system. But he has also had some missteps: A 17-year-old escaped while attending a Memorial Day cookout at Schiraldi's Columbia Heights home in 2008. The youth was part of a Shakespeare troupe, one of the alternatives Schiraldi promoted. This summer, a teen scaled the fence and escaped the New Beginnings Youth Center, a day after Schiraldi, Fenty and others opened the $46 million campus.
"I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for giving me the chance to come home to New York and work to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers who have gotten in trouble with the law," Schiraldi said in a statement. "Working in an administration where innovation and willingness to try new solutions to age-old problems is encouraged is an opportunity to take full advantage of and I look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of the department."
-- Nikita Stewart