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Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 12/15/2010

Robert Hildum to leave D.C. juvenile justice department

By Mike DeBonis

Robert Hildum has announced that he will leave his post leading the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services at week's end, ending his five-month tenure atop the city's controversial juvenile justice agency.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I announce to you my decision to return to the Office of Attorney General (OAG)," he wrote in a memo to agency staff. "My last day will be Friday, December 17, and my successor should be announced soon. Several factors went into my decision, including making the best choice for my family. I am an attorney and I love the law and I look forward to continuing to serve the District through my work at OAG."

Hildum was put in charge of DYRS on an interim basis in July, weeks after a review ordered by Attorney General Peter Nickles and conducted by Hildum severely criticized the agency's reform-minded managers for lax supervision of the youths in its custody. DYRS wards have been perpetrators or victims of numerous violent crimes in recent years, and Hildum moved to keep more in secure custody rather than in community-based rehabilitation settings. That, however, has led to reports of overcrowding at the city's secure facilities.

"We all know how difficult a year this has been for the agency and its staff," he wrote in the memo. "The challenges were stress-filled as we had to manage through several tragic cases involving our youth, and now we face another leadership transition. Throughout it all, I've learned a lot from you and have appreciated your willingness to continue to perform your job at a high level -- yet under difficult circumstances."

In recent media interviews, Hildum said he'd like to keep his job running the agency, but his close ties to Nickles made it highly unlikely that Mayor-elect Vincent Gray would keep him in the post.

UPDATE, 11:20 A.M.: More from Post reporter Henri Cauvin, who covers DYRS:

[L]ast week, according to a source, he received a letter inviting him to apply for the permanent job -- a sign that he was unlikely to be Gray's choice to lead the agency, which has been wracked by turmoil over the last year.

As a prosecutor with little experience running a juvenile justice system, Hildum faced significant opposition from advocates who saw him as a threat to efforts over the last several years to reform the District's troubled long-troubled juvenile justice agency. But Hildum had supporters as well, who said he had brought a new focus to the agency and in particular to the dearth of community services for juvenile offenders.

By Mike DeBonis  | December 15, 2010; 11:09 AM ET
Categories:  The District  
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Build the prison for the young offenders and then build another. GET THE THUGS OFF OF THE STREETS!!!

Posted by: 10bestfan | December 15, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

So is there a Duputy Director in charge or is DYRS running w/o a head while Hildum packs his desk and until Gray appoints someone new?

"Hildum faced significant opposition from advocates"...? Any of these "significant" advocates willing to be quoted? Is this guy an advocate:

Posted by: Perseus | December 15, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Hildum unlike the day care provider who preceeded him realize the politics in this disfunctional agency specifically, we have to many dam avocates who based their belief largely on what they learn in books written in an ideal setting based on falacy and as a result these Juvinile thugs continue to move in and out of the system because there are know consequence for their actions and or behavior. These bleeding heart avocates had better realize that not all of these Juveniles are amicable to or can be rehabiltated all one have to do is look at the adult prison system where 70% or more had lengthy juvenile arrest, before going to the big house, why? no consequences for their earlier behavior. I guess rather than providing additional secure facilities for those bent on destroying the lives of the Law abiding citizens of this city,we have to wait until street justice take them off the count, as is currently happening however, the only problem with that,innocent folks get caughtup in the cross fire. Wake up DC!!

Posted by: VietnamVeteran | December 15, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

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