Keeping Tabs On Young Offenders

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The March 11 article "D.C. to Share Data About Top Youth Offenders" touched on an important issue in the city's continuing efforts to improve public safety.

I have advocated the sharing of information on juvenile arrest histories with select youth organizations for a long time, specifically with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation's Roving Leader Program. With its long history of success, this organization should have been noted in the article. The sharing of youth offender information has occurred in the past but only on a very informal basis.

But limiting such sharing to 60 of the most serious offenders, as the city's new program would do, amounts to a drop in the bucket. The District has that many current and former juvenile offenders in just one underserved Northeast neighborhood.

The deeper and more pressing issue isn't about sharing offender histories or performing background checks but concerns ensuring government accountability for providing comprehensive, performance-measurable treatment plans to meet the complex rehabilitation needs of each young offender. So much more is needed to truly address this problem.

We love to tinker around the edges. But too often the heavy work seems to go undone.



The writer is a former director of community policing and youth gang intervention for the D.C. police.

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