Washington D.C. Not Punishing Youth Crime: ‘Kids Are Kids’

Juvenile offenders cannot be incarcerated beyond their 21st birthday.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Residents of Washington, D.C. are calling for action to be taken against the ongoing youth crime surge.
  • According to the city, over 63% of carjacking arrests involve those under the age of 18.
  • In August, five teenagers attempted to carjack a citizen using a stolen vehicle.
  • A 13-year-old female involved in the incident also engaged in a series of robberies and other activities.
  • Since juvenile offenders cannot be held in prison after they turn 21, they avoid jail sentences.
  • “I think if you’re old enough to shoot someone or take someone’s car with a gun, you should be able to do life in jail, you should be able to do the time for the crime, ’cause I’m never going to see my son again,” said a mother whose son was murdered by a 15-year-old.
PUSH FOR “RESTORATIVE JUSTICE”:
  • D.C.’s Attorney General Brian Schwalb (D) said during an April town hall, “We also are committed in the juvenile system to treat kids like kids and that we give kids what the law requires, which is a chance of rehabilitation and going on to live lives of success and independence.”
  • He added that kids should not be “treated as adults,” arguing, “Kids are kids and when you’re talking about teenagers particular – their brains are developing, their minds are developing, and their biologically prone to make mistakes – that’s what we’ve all done as we’ve grown up.”
  • His statements follow his 2017 launch of the Restorative Justice Program.
  • ‘Restorative justice’ is defined as a “victim-centered approach to addressing crime and conflict, which provides the victim and the young person who caused harm a chance to opt into a facilitated conversation about what happened, how everyone was affected, and what needs to happen to resolve the matter so that it never happens again,” according to D.C.’s Attorney General website.
  • The process “hails from indigenous practices in Native American, West African, and New Zealand cultures.”
  • Restorative justice “conferencing involves bringing together the victim and the accused along with their respective supporters to have a safe and honest conversation about the harm,” the program notes. “This conference is made possible by a restorative justice facilitator who prepares all participants to meet with integrity and come to a resolution as a group.”
BACKGROUND:
  • In Brandon Johnson’s first month as Chicago mayor, crime increased 38% compared to May 15 to June 11, 2022.
  • Despite his push for anti-violence programs, 12 Chicago residents were murdered over Memorial Day weekend.
  • If Chicago crime remains at its current rate, residents will see a 40% increase in crimes compared to 2022.
  • After a period of juvenile violence, the Chicago mayor said kids are merely making “silly decisions” because “kids do goofy things.”

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