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Posted at 2:24 PM ET, 06/21/2010

Youth center overcrowded before attack

By Washington Post editors

New Beginnings, the District’s juvenile detention center in Laurel, had been overcrowded for days when a detainee attacked a staff member Sunday night and set off a disturbance that lasted about an hour.

New Beginnings, which is designed to hold 60 people, had 70 people in custody Sunday, said Tasha Williams, a union official for the detention center, and a law enforcement source.

The trouble began after staff from the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, which operates New Beginnings, signaled the end of recreation time early Sunday night. Some residents of one housing unit refused. A 20-year-old, who like other residents of the unit is awaiting placement in another facility, punched a supervisor in the face, fracturing the man’s jaw, according to Williams, chairman of the DYRS unit of the Fraternal Order of Police.

During the attack, the supervisor's electronic key card was taken and other units at the facility were unlocked, according to Williams. Some of the residents of those units began roaming the campus, and it was not until officers from the Maryland State Police and the Anne Arundel County police responded that New Beginnings staff members were able to get all of the residents back to their units.

D.C. police, including Chief Cathy Lanier and a SWAT team, also responded to New Beginnings.

Opened last year to replace the dangerous and decrepit Oak Hill compound, New Beginnings is the centerpiece of the juvenile justice reform effort launched by the administration of former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D) and continued by his successor, Adrian M. Fenty (D). But the facility has been faulted by some critics, including some staff, for being too small and for being too lenient on juvenile offenders.

Soon after New Beginnings opened, two escapes occurred, and security was bolstered. But the disturbance Sunday night is likely to intensify scrutiny on DYRS.

-- Henri E. Cauvin

By Washington Post editors  | June 21, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  DC, Maryland  | Tags:  detention center, laurel, new beginnings  
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New Beginning of what, a bigger prison down the road?

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | June 21, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

New Beginning? Or same old story?

I guess building a cushy cultural center for poor, poor disadvantaged youth with only 60 beds was the liberal equivalent of planned obsolescence? Or inaugural obsolescence?

Add a zero to the capacity, and maybe you could house half of DC's worst homegrown thug class. Better yet, put the youngins in the DC Jail (and then protect the grown folk already there from the savagery of District youth.)

Vinny sure knew when to get out of town, huh?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | June 21, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Start building another youth prison facility or two or three now. it will have lots of positive effects- it will employ construction workers to build ,guards and keep the little thugs off of the streets. I bet crime goes down if they learn how to keep the lil' gangstas in jail.

Posted by: lsf07 | June 21, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

When is a 20 year old considered a youth? When you are in an insitution you go by the rules whether you like them or not. One day we will realize that some youth don't follow society's rules know matter where they are and do not want to be saved and can't be saved. So they should just get a go to jail/prison card.

Posted by: estewart1 | June 21, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

These 'youths' have been so coddled by DYRS that they look upon this facility as a day camp where they stay as long as they want to and leave when they're ready. Assualt staff? Is this something new or has the Post been running bogus assualt stories in the past?

Posted by: Jimof1913 | June 21, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

New Beginnings was Vincent Schiraldi's idea. The social theories pushed by Mr. Schiraldi might look good in an academic setting but they sure do not work in the real world with these "youth".

New beginnings threatens the community around the facility as well as the "youth" in the facility.

Enough with the failed social experiments. Lock these people up in jail where they belong.

Posted by: RandyM1 | June 21, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Them people be ignorant.

Posted by: dcjlm2003 | June 21, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

The last thing these thugs need is to live in the lap of luxury. They are taken off the streets because of their anti-social behavior. These kids need to be incarcerated just like the criminals they are. There should be strong no-nonsense personnel in charge. How can they get out of this facility? They don't deserve the privilege of freedom no matter how brief it may be. Stop making their stay easy. It should be rough.

Posted by: skinfreak | June 21, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Lets be honest, if you live in DC you know.. These young ppl need to be locked away... That New Beginnings is a Joke.. Hell it only holds 60 ppl.. Plus thye kno its a joke, so it will never help, they need to reopen the old part and reopen Lorton for them.. Cause as long as they keep playin these kids, things will get worst.

Posted by: xrendellx | June 21, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Hugs for thugs, a true liberal social experiment, failed!

Posted by: madmike272 | June 21, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Goof grief! Things are so bassackwards. These are thugs, young maybe, but thugs nonetheles. We seldom hear about their victims, just crocodile tears for the thugs. There are thousands, maybe millions, of people who have a tough life. But not all turn out to be thugs. Let's stop with the crying over the thugs and shed a few for their victims and their future victims after they get out of lockup.

Posted by: lk20850 | June 21, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Goof grief! Things are so bassackwards. These are thugs, young maybe, but thugs nonetheles. We seldom hear about their victims, just crocodile tears for the thugs. There are thousands, maybe millions, of people who have a tough life. But not all turn out to be thugs. Let's stop with the crying over the thugs and shed a few for their victims and their future victims after they get out of lockup.

Posted by: lk20850 | June 21, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing new about New Beginning. It is more of the same. Not decrepit...whatever!! Those kids are busting out windows, kicking the doors off the hinges, yes, household hindges. Tearing down the drop down ceiling, yes drywall not cement! New Beginnings is a JOKE. The joke is on DC tax payors. Repairs are made to make more repairs.

The reason why this story is newsworthy is because DC MPD and the SWAT Team had to respond!!! WTF!! These kids assault staff with regularity. Fenty and the DYRS Executive Staff are tone deaf because they don't put their lives in harm's way on a daily basis. Staff put their lives on the line EVERY time they punched for their shift. There are staff shortages because the was a reduction in staff by the Administrators -Schiraldi (past) and Schindler (present), go figure!

Posted by: whatsreallygoingon | June 21, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

At the very least, change the name to something like: "Bootcamp." And run it like an army bootcamp.

Posted by: woof3 | June 21, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Good Evening,

I am positive that someone will post an awful/mean comment after reading my post, but I still feel obligated to say something. The general population or "common folk" don't know the half of the story. These children/youth or whatever you call them are broken. These young men are one of the most misrepresented, misunderstood, and mistreated group of Americans. The Maya Angelou Academy provides the educational services for young men detained at New Beginnings. And I am the College Counselor at the Maya Angelou Academy located inside New Beginnings. Yes, I said that I am the College Counselor. And I am proud to say, "we, the Maya Angelou Academy, do a damn good job educating or re-educating these young men!!" Now, I am sitting here typing as I just left one young man who started college today. He is also one of the same young men who has spent time at New Beginnings. These young men has serious issues, beyond what you would ever imagine. Don't get me wrong, many of these young men have made the worst choices in life. However, many of these same young men have been let down by so many adults in their life. This includes: their family, DCPS, CFSA, and many other people/organizations who had the power over them, as they are just children/youth; unable to guide themselves. Many of these young men have difficulties reading and writing or can't read and write at all, many of these young men have serious psychological issues, many of these young men have no family or family that just can't provide their emotional, psychological or financial needs, many of these young men are destroyed. But when there is a will, there is a way. So what? You ask. As you read these stories about what goes on behind the walls of New Beginnings, just have a little sympathy, better yet, be empathic. Every organization has its challenges. But this is a very tough job for DYRS and the Maya Angelou Academy staff. We go in every day and do they best that we can to serve these young men. And we will continue to do just that.

Our executive director Dr. Murphy, JD has this quote in her email. For these are all our children. We will all profit by, or pay for, whatever they become. ~James Baldwin

Always remember that!

Posted by: jocelynsbush | June 21, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

jocelynsbush wrote:

"These young men has serious issues...."

Yes, they has.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | June 21, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Let this facility be for youngsters who exhibit good behavior and potential...disruptive inmates should be housed accordingly and removed from this institution...inmates who want to return to society with goals and ambition only should be housed at this facility...

There is a place for knuckleheads and it is not with promising young punch a staff member because rec time is up definitely tells me this individual needs a more restrictive facility to be housed in....dc jail?????

Posted by: pentagon40 | June 21, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I believe New Beginnings is doing good work for SOME of the kids who are there. Many people are aware of the backgrounds of these kids and want them to have a chance and be rehabilitated. However, you are not doing a "damn good job" by refusing to address the failures. And, at what cost when innocent people are being hurt? There are not enough beds for juvenile offenders period. End of story. The facility is already overcrowded. DYRS insists on putting the majority of juveniles back in the community and, again, people are being hurt - in some cases murdered. Address the failures in the system. How can you not understand the anger and frustration in our community? Step out and meet with the families and victims and YOU might gain a better perspective. Trust me on this, either DYRS and the juvenile system address the problems and stop hiding behind what has been repeated for years. We are going to change it with you or without you.

Posted by: mjvdc | June 21, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like another District success story.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | June 21, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-20 are also adults and not "kids" or "teens", meaning they shouldn't be called those words. New Beginnings juvenile detention center needs better security to make sure that attacks and escapes don't happen.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | June 22, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

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