Uncharted Possibilities For Our Youth – Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act


The Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016

The Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016 has advanced to a full council for review. The Bill proposes legislation that reforms the incarceration of juveniles and also prevent them from entering the system with the same harsh intake and penalties as adults. In addition, it reduces over incarceration by protecting underage children from being committed with the older kids and limits the incarceration of \”status offenders.\” Lastly, Judicial discretion will be used to provide appropriate sentencing for children which will also improve the conditions of confinement by banning solitary confinement. They will be referred and transferred to Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS).

The DC Voice had an opportunity to ask two Ward 5 residents their thoughts of the Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment. Here is what they had to say:

\”My view is it\’s a good legislation for the youth of DC to received a fair chance in the Juvenile system, were the age of the youth are being considered. Placing a 10-year-old in a cell with a 16-year-old gives the older child added influence over the 10-year-old. It also will get youth out of adult facilities and place them in DYRS programs.\”
Herman Preston (Ward 5 Resident)


\”I applaud Councilmember McDuffie\’s efforts to bring attention to and legislate the critical issues around juveniles and our justice system. At the heart of the legislation is the concern that we have a balanced approach to dealing with our youth who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. While it is necessary, for an orderly society, to hold youth offenders accountable, it is incumbent upon us to do so in a way that achieves the goals of reformation and prevention. My hope is that the Council will support this bill and look to connect prevention interventions available across the whole of government, the faith community and other community-based organizations. My expectation is that this bill will be supported by the Council and the mayor and will serve as a great platform to address juvenile crime in our community and across this country.\”
Corey Griffin (Ward 5 Resident)

Who\’s on Board?

Councilmember McDuffies Bill has garnered an outstanding amount of support throughout the Washington DC arena and other political constituents. Below is a list of 28 Organizations and advocates the Bill:

Since the hearing in June, where dozens of local and national organizations from the civil rights, juvenile justice, and faith communities testified in support of the legislation, Councilmember McDuffie has engaged with the Executive, the Office of the Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender Service, the Superior Court, community leaders, and other stakeholders from across the District to reach consensus on a balanced package of reforms. As a result of that effort, the Council received a renewed letter of support for the bill yesterday from 28 organizations and advocates, including:

D.C. Lawyers for Youth
Akiva Liberman, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute
American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital
Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Campaign for Youth Justice
Center for Children’s Law and Policy
Children’s Law Center
Council for Court Excellence
D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates
D.C. Law Students in Court
D.C. Prisoners’ Project
Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop
Kanita C. Williams, Esq.
Kristin Henning, Director, Juvenile Justice Clinic, Georgetown Law
Justice Policy Institute
Latin American Youth Center
Mark Hecker, Reach Incorporated
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center
National Association of Social Workers, D.C. Metro Chapter
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Juvenile Justice Network
Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia
Rights for Girls
Sasha Bruce Youth Works
Tiane Doman
The Sentencing Project
Whitman-Walker Health

Later this month, the bill will be voted on by the full Council.


Source: DC Council Newsletter
Ward 5 Kenyan R. McDuffie

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