WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today released the following statement ahead of his testimony before the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety:
“Improving public safety is our top priority at the Office of the Attorney General. Residents are calling for effective solutions to address violent crime that will make us safer now and in the long run. Every day, we work to hold kids who have committed criminal acts accountable by prosecuting and closing cases. As arrests for violent crime have gone up, so too have our prosecutions. Even as we prosecute cases, we remain committed to the rehabilitation of young people because that reduces recidivism and makes DC safer.
The proposed changes to the juvenile pre-trial detention statute will not make us safer or stronger. Instead, they will result in locking up more kids pre-trial, even though there is no good data to suggest that kids who are released pre-trial are committing violent or serious offenses. Decades of research confirms that incarcerating kids causes very real harms, including increasing the likelihood that they will commit more serious crimes in the future. The proposed changes to the statute, therefore, fail to balance the known and serious harms caused by increased juvenile detention against the speculative benefit of locking up more youth pre-trial.
Prosecution, by definition, happens after a crime has already been committed. We must collectively work to prevent crime before it happens by addressing the systemic, root causes of crime and by offering real, long-term solutions. These include funding sufficient counselors and mental health professionals in schools, creating a high-quality residential psychiatric treatment facility in the District, and expanding existing violence interruption programs, to name a few. While passing this proposed bill might feel good in the short-term, it will not, in the long-term, make DC safer or stronger.”
AG Schwalb’s full testimony is available here.