For the past eight years, the youth, now 17 years old, has been in and out of the District's juvenile court and detention centers, convicted nine times of robbery, tampering, burglary, assault and other crimes. Despite some attempts to help him as he moved through the system, his behavior has not changed. He continues his pattern of crimes because he thinks the law can do nothing to stop him.
He is typical of a small class of youths who have repeatedly passed through the juvenile division of the D.C. Superior Court and then returned to the streets to commit more crimes.
His case, and others like it, have become the target of a "Juvenile Major Offender Program" designed to identify youths who are repeat offenders, take them off the streets and focus the court's attention on their special need for supervision and rehabilitation, according to D.C. Corporation Counsel John R. Risher Jr. whose office prosecutives juvenile crime.
The program, which began in November, is a joint effort by the corporation counsel's office and the D.C. Police Department.
The juvenile program is similar to "Operation Doorstop" in the Superior Court's adult division, which concentrates police and prosecutor's efforts on defendants who have been identified as "career criminals" because of their prior record.
"We still maintain for the most part that juveniles should be diverted from the criminal justice system" and given a chance to adjust their behavior outside a detention center," said Deputy Chief Marty Tapscott, supervisor of the department's Youth Division.
"All we are saying is that there are some juveniles who have not benefited" from incarceration "and have continued to commit crimes time and time again," Tapscott said.
"We feel that it's time that this small group of people should be looked at . . . another approach taken . . . and they should be taken off the street in the meantime," Tapscott said.
In five months of operation, 29 youths have been taken into the major offender program with 24 convicted so far, according to the corporation counsel's office.
Twelve of the juveniles have reached the sentencing stage and eight have been committed to one of the city's two correctional institutions for juvenile offenders, the prosecutor's office said.
In reviewing the program, the coporation counsel's office has expressed some dissatisfaction with the kinds of sentences handed out in major offender cases.
Usually, juveniles cannot be committed for a term longer than two years and it is the practice of the Department of Human Resources to release most youths from its custody after one or two months, deputy corporation counsel Geoffrey M. Alprin of the criminal division said in a memorandum to Risher.
As a result, Alprin said, his office is now trying to persuade juvenile court judges to require DHR to get permission from the court before a youth is released from custody.
Two senior lawyers in the corporation counsel's office have been assigned to the major offender program to work with police officers in the selection and prosecution of cases, the corporation counsel's office said.
Juveniles are identified as "major offenders" on a point system based on their prior criminal record. The program focuses only on the "strongest cases involving the worst of the major repeat offenders," according to a program report prepared by the corporation counsel's office.
A primary purpose of the program, according to the report, is to give these cases "the attention they require, rather than (treat them) in a manner characteristic of the great majority of cases that grossly overburden the understaffed juvenile justice system."
Figures compiled by the police department's Youth Division for the last three months of 1976 show that of 1,335 juveniles arrested, 915 had been arrested at least once before and 132 of the youths had at least two prior arrests.
Overall, the report from the corporation counsel's office said, juveniles are responsible for perhaps close to 50 percent of all crimes committed in the District of Columbia.