Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping Tabs on Young Offenders

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 and is presently the Outreach Coordinator for the Institute for Public Safety & Justice @ UDC

Reprinted from the Washington Post, Tuesday, March 17, 2009; A14

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Noel Mueller, International Law Enforcement Advisor with DynCorp International under contract with the U.S. State Department, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Office. He is assigned to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, Inspector General's Office.

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Noel Mueller (BA-Admin of Justice '94; JD Catholic University '99)