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Public Safety Gains Made Among DC Court-Involved Youth

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Convictions and arrests down

CONTACT:     Carol Abrams (DYRS) 202-727-2034; [email protected]

(WASHINGTON, DC)–DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services director Neil A. Stanley released data today that shows that public safety gains have been made among youth in the agency’s care. Fewer court-involved youth are being re-arrested, and fewer are being reconvicted. DYRS is DC’s juvenile justice agency responsible for those court-involved youth who are most in need of intense supervision and treatment services. 

Re-convictions are down

A key indicator of successful rehabilitation is having a low percentage of court-involved youth who are convicted of a new offense within their first year of community placement. This percentage, known as the recidivism rate, has continued to fall, from a high of 45% for youth committed to DYRS in FY2008 to 38% for youth committed in FY2010, the most recent year for which full data is available. Note, the positive trend is continuing into FY11 at 30% with the partial data we have now. The recidivism rate has decreased every year since FY2008.

Arrests are down

Comparing 2012 to 2011, the overall re-arrest rate for DYRS youth is down by 37%.  This is true across all major offense categories:

  • Violent offenses (-32%)
  • Robberies (-45%)
  • Drug offenses (-51%)
  • Property Offenses (-39%)
  • Other Offenses (-33%)

In addition, DYRS youth have accounted for a smaller portion of citywide arrests. In 2012, 6.6% of arrests in the District of young people age 20 and younger were DYRS youth, down from 9.1% in 2011. This trend has continued so far in 2013, over the first 2 months of this year, DYRS youth account for 6.4% of citywide arrests.

Last year, fewer than half of all re-arrests of DYRS youth resulted in a re-conviction, which demonstrates the importance of considering final outcomes when using re-arrest data to measure public safety performance. Nevertheless, comparing arrest rates from year to year can provide a snapshot of change in new contacts with the justice system.

More youth are on GPS monitoring

By the end of 2012, the majority of DYRS youth in the community were monitored by GPS devices. The agency has significantly increased the number of youth supervised through GPS tracking, from zero youth in fiscal year 2009 to 664 youth in fiscal year 2012.

The strategy behind the numbers

To help reduce the likelihood that young people will re-offend, DYRS combines careful monitoring and supervision, comprehensive rehabilitative services, and continuous improvement of its public safety strategies. The District of Columbia is at the forefront of a national trend in positive, community-based services and placements for youth committed to a juvenile justice agency. Placing court-involved youth in the community with structured and comprehensive services and supports is a recognized method of keeping youth from re-offending, while increasing youth engagement in education and work.

DYRS director Neil A. Stanley affirmed that, “Research shows that the best way to enhance long-term public safety is to provide court-involved youth with the tools they need to successfully transition into adulthood and away from re-offending.” In 2012, DYRS continued to link more youth to job training and jobs; help more achieve their high school diploma or GED; make available community-based mental, behavioral, and physical health services; and strengthen family’s involvement with their youth’s treatment.

The DYRS 2012 Public Safety Report is available for download.