Attorney General Schwalb Introduces Legislation to Reduce Recidivism, Improve Public Safety Outcomes in Juvenile Justice System

Bill Requires Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS) to Reform Practices & Mandates Permanent, Independent Oversight of Agency

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today introduced the Recidivism Reduction, Oversight, and Accountability for DYRS ACT – the “ROAD Act” – to hold the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS) accountable for better public safety outcomes in the juvenile justice system and ensure that young people committed to DYRS are less likely to commit additional offenses once released.

In the most serious criminal cases, young people who are arrested, prosecuted, and found responsible for an offense are committed to DYRS. From then on, DYRS is responsible for providing effective supervision and intervention to youth in their custody and reducing the likelihood that they will re-offend. The most recent and comprehensive data from the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council – 2022 study of juvenile system outcomes – reveals that 92.7% of young people committed to DYRS are subsequently re-arrested, and nearly half are convicted of a new offense.

“Too many people across all eight Wards don’t feel safe right now, and residents are rightly demanding swift action from their elected leaders. Young people must face consequences when they break the law, but once our office has prosecuted them, the District must work to ensure that they won’t re-offend and will go on to become productive members of our communities” said Attorney General Schwalb. “As the District’s chief prosecutor of juvenile crime, I am focused on outcomes and results. Since taking office last year, I have become increasingly concerned about whether DYRS is providing sufficient supervision and intervention to ensure that committed young people don’t re-offend. The ROAD Act will help get DYRS back on track, and create a roadmap towards effective intervention, oversight and accountability, and improved public safety.”

The ROAD Act:

  • Requires DYRS to significantly reform its supervision and intervention practices to ensure improved public safety outcomes and reductions in recidivism among committed young people.
  • Strengthens the District Court’s authority to intervene when it becomes clear that DYRS is not providing appropriate services and placements for young people in its care.  
  • Mandates permanent, independent oversight of DYRS to increase accountability and transparency regarding their internal decision-making.

The full text of the legislation is here.

OAG’s Efforts to Stop Gun Violence and Improve Public Safety
The Office of the Attorney General uses every tool available to reduce violent crime, especially crime involving firearms. Last year, OAG prosecuted 88% of the most serious cases, including homicide and attempted homicide, and 81% of gun possession cases. OAG also defends the District’s common-sense gun laws—including prohibitions on large-capacity magazines and carrying firearms on public transportation—against legal challenges. OAG seeks Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), when appropriate, to remove firearms and ammunition from those who pose a danger to themselves or others. In 2022, OAG filed and won a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against Polymer80, a ghost gun manufacturer that was selling kits that enabled individuals to build untraceable ghost guns in their homes. OAG also expanded its Cure the Streets program, a community-based, violence-interruption program that employs a public-health approach to disrupting cycles of violence. Through its affirmative litigation work, OAG uses the law to address housing instability, economic inequities, environmental exploitation and the exploitation of consumers, seniors, and workers – all of which are known to contribute to cycles of crime.

Additionally, OAG works to combat truancy and keep kids in school though its ATTEND (Addressing Truancy Through Engagement and Negotiated Dialogue) program, which operates in eight District elementary and middle schools. In coordination with the DC Superior Court and other stakeholders, ATTEND helps children and their families address the underlying issues causing chronic absenteeism while minimizing the likelihood of repeat referrals.