As I look back on five years as director of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, I see a road marked by both controversy and promises kept.
In May, city leaders fulfilled an oft-repeated vow to shutter the Oak Hill Youth Correctional Facility, one of the nation's most infamous youth-detention institutions. But concerns have since been raised about whether the 60-bed New Beginnings Youth Development Center, Oak Hill's successor, is too small, jeopardizing public safety.
The change in the District, it's important to note, has been part of a broad national shift. In turning away from the prison-like Oak Hill in favor of a smaller facility and rigorous coalitions of community-service providers, the District is squarely in the mainstream of modern juvenile justice practice and research. From 2000 to 2008, the number of youths in custody nationwide dropped by 27 percent, declining in two-thirds of all states. Texas reduced its incarcerated population by more than 2,000 youths, New York by 900 and California by a whopping 8,500, with no untoward effect on public safety. In California, in fact, juvenile arrests fell at twice the rate of adult arrests despite the fact that the state increased its adult prison population by 21 percent and decreased its juvenile prison population by 84 percent.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Sunday, January 31, 2010