Mother of slain Southeast teen goes up against mayor in search for answers

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, June 26, 2010

Despite her quick smile, Nardyne Jefferies couldn't mask the pain and anger written all over her face when we met at a Northeast eatery this week. Her 16-year-old daughter, Brishell, was one of the three youths killed in the March 30 drive-by shooting on South Capitol Street SE. Part of Jefferies died that night.

She doesn't want another parent to experience her grief, she said. She wants justice and answers as to why District streets are filled with violent offenders like the young men accused in the shootings.

On that score, Jefferies said she's received little satisfaction from city officials, and her disgust with Mayor Adrian Fenty has reached the boiling point. In a June 21 e-mail to Fenty, Jefferies wrote: "My beautiful, intelligent, loving, peaceful child's brains were blown out of her little head just a few yards from our home that she and I once shared happily together." The message ended: "Proud Mother of Brishell Tashe Jones or should I type 'former mother.' "

Jefferies's anger with the mayor, however, is about more than Brishell's murder.

Several crimes have been traced to juvenile offenders under the supervision of the city's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Some of those youths have escaped from DYRS custody or -- in juvenile justice parlance -- are "in abscondance."

On June 14, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the committee that oversees DYRS, convened a public roundtable to examine the problem of juvenile escapees.

"Currently, DYRS averages 70 youth in abscondance at any given time," Wells told me this week. "Approximately 16 of the 70 are considered at highest risk for violence by DYRS." He added, "Another 21 are considered at medium risk."

Wells said his committee wanted to know if D.C. police, charged with apprehending juvenile escapees, "had sufficient resources to make abscondance a priority, and how quickly they could be expected to find and take a youth into custody."

Unfortunately, Wells said, the mayor blocked D.C. police from participating in the meeting.

Jefferies and other relatives of crime victims were looking forward to learning more about this public safety threat and were upset. Jefferies told me it was "an abuse of power."

Wells, too, was angered. The mayor's action, he said, "really defies belief."

Pouring salt on the wound, Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson told The Post that since the roundtable was convened by the council's human services committee, the administration decided it should be represented only by a human services official, in this case, Marc Schindler, interim DYRS director and former DYRS director Vincent Schiraldi's handpicked deputy.

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