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'Juvenile justice reform' -- or a clear-and-present threat?

Manuel D. Sanchez, 29, of Capitol Heights was with a crew of people hired a week ago to clean up the area in the rear of an apartment house in the 4600 block of Hillside Road in Southeast Washington. Sanchez didn't make it home. Just after 2:00 p.m. last Friday he was shot to death.

Sad how things happen. Sanchez was trying to clean up the District when a ward of the city -- 16-year-old Javon Hale, a juvenile defendant who was, at the time, in the custody of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services -- allegedly shot and killed him, according to police. Hale has been arrested and charged as an adult with felony murder.

But, you may ask, if this 16-year-old was in custody of the city, what in the world was he doing in the rear of an apartment house in Southeast D.C. with a gun?

Two well-placed government sources said that although Hale had been committed to DYRS custody by a court, the department chose to place him with a community facility. That facility gave Hale a weekend pass, and, voila, he found his way to Hillside Road SE. After the shooting, according to the government sources, Hale returned to the community facility -- having exhausted his agreed-upon free time in the city.

The progressives call this kind of community placement "juvenile justice reform." How many DYRS youth have been killed, have killed, or are escapees this year? Never mind. Naughty question. I say it's a disgrace and a clear-and-present threat to public safety. But the admission of mistakes just isn't in the nature of the "enlightened."

By Colbert King  | June 4, 2010; 6:32 PM ET
Categories:  King  | Tags:  Colbert King  
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Let's all label ourselves and everyone else, huh Mr. King? Progressive is as progressive does. I consider myself a "progressive." I also deplore the situations you write of(and I read your column nearly every week). I certainly wouldn't call your DYRS situation "progressive." Just as I wouldn't model my Christianity after Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. There are false prophets in every religion, and in politics, which is also a religion of sorts.

Oh, what a mistake we make when we label other people---or ourselves. And when we use a label to advance wrong thinking and sell it to others of that label--sometimes people end up dead. Progressive, conservative, Christian, or anything else--we must all hear the beat of our own drummer and march away when those who say they think as we do get off on the wrong track.

Groupthink is the most dangerous of our enemies.

Posted by: martina2 | June 5, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

You are right on with this. Liberal/Progressive policies of the past 49 or so years giving passes to these criminals because they are "victims" has led to nothing but carnage on the streets. Take any of these murderers and see how many second chances, passes and so on that they get and it makes you sick. The eventual outcome such as this poor fellows death is predictable. Crime has dropped significantly since the mid ninities why? Because of three strikes laws putting these predators away is why and in some states allowing citizens to protect themselves.

Posted by: Pilot1 | June 5, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

A sad, sad story. Unfortunately, "progressive" is now a label that is starting to carry the same baggage as the label "liberal" -- i.e. out of touch with reality and the real world. That is -- the world where people want to feel safe to go to and from work to earn a living without being shot to death by a hoodlum that should be locked safely away. The first post seems to think that putting a label on something is a sin worse than the senseless killing of a human being. Words vs bullets. The creep should have been kept off the street. Action rather than labels.

Posted by: Fergie303 | June 6, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

"Action rather than labels." Exactly. Putting labels on people or situations solves nothing, just separate people into opposing camps that feel duty-bound not to work together.

And certainly senseless killing is worse than labels. Then again, looking at global history, how many people have been killed through wars or genocide, simply because of labels?

Rarely do I disagree with Mr.King, and even here I really do not except to remind him that when you stereotype, you label. And the labels we place on others are wrong almost as often as they are right.

Posted by: martina2 | June 6, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Truly, how many bodies must rack up at the feet of DYRS management before DC political leaders put an end to these reprehensible policies and practices?

Who is protecting the public? Who is not?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | June 6, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

The youth charged in the care of DYRS knows that there are no consequences for their failure to do anything!! Stop blaming the frontline workers for the inept policies of a failed DYRS Administration and the likes of MArc Schnilder who have continued the failed practices/policies of Vincent Schiraldi who CONVENIENTLY left to mar another system in New York...Leaving the taxing citizens with the bill as the cost of human lives continue to climb...Brace yourselves. . .Summer is on it's way!!

Posted by: whatsreallygoingon | June 6, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

How Can You Tell When A Lawyer's Lying to the American People on the Anniversary of D-Day ?

NY Times today-

"In his weekly radio address broadcast Saturday, President Obama emphasized that the federal government had “mobilized on every front” to contain and clean up the oil spill, and called attention to the plight of some of the shrimpers and oystermen he met while visiting the Louisiana coast on Friday."

AP Today-
"With no oil response workers on Louisiana's Queen Bess Island, Plaquemines Parish coastal zone management director P.J. Hahn decided he could wait no longer, pulling an exhausted brown pelican from the oil, slime dripping from its wings.

"We're in the sixth week, you'd think there would be a flotilla of people out here," Hahn said. "As you can see, we're so far behind the curve in this thing."
At the mouth of Alabama's Mobile Bay, hundreds of seagulls squawked on a beach dotted with countless small tar balls but not a cleanup crew in sight.

Posted by: thecannula | June 6, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

State budgets must now absorb the cost of incarcerating illegal aliens - Obama cut this federal assistance...which means that the trickle-down effect is cutting state programs that monitor juvenile delinquents.


And state "residential treatment centers" that give adjudicated (convicted) juveniles a "second chance" (third, fourth, fifth) - are a complete failure...these tax-exempt 501 (c)3's pull in our federal tax dollars in the form of grants - and are failures.

So - as long as the criminals in Washington continue to steal our tax dollars and place a bigger burden on the states - our lives will be at even greater risk.

Don't forget - states will also have to absorb the cost of the "health care" plan...and this is coming fast...states are already floundering under the weight of the cost of this ridiculous 'law.'

Posted by: joesmithdefend | June 6, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

joesmithdefend: You can't argue with insanity. I know. I have tried.

Posted by: martymar123 | June 7, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

If one is under the control of the Juvenile Justice Program, then one should be visually in contact with a detention officer. I have worked with juveniles in this type of environment for a several years. In a maximum security facility, and in a "High Risk" residental program. One does not turn their back on these felons!
However, this program is way out there! Place them in their own environment, where they came from to get to detention, and turn your back on them without supervision? They have contacts, drugs, guns, homies, alcohol, and so many other things they can get their hands on!
I would not be surprised if that youth had a shopping list for the boys "On the inside!" If this program was here in Florida, I would be seeking for the Governor's removal. Truly, this is a release of a criminal who has been festering on the inside to get out. When released, this person exploded with anger and lashed out. The unfortunate thing is that Manuel Sanchez was its target of that lashing.
Whoever believes that this program assists those locked up for THEIR crimes, is in Wonderland with Alice. Yes sir, I agree that this "Program" is an endagerment to the public. Hearings should be heard on the person implementing such a plan. These kids will say and do ANYTHING to get out. Because of this, we the people, are then the hunted.

Posted by: johnb11 | June 7, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I live in the far northwest. We have a rather severe meth use problem out here and I've worked as a volunteer with kids who come from very crappy homes. Having seen what the use of meth does to a human being I have sought the advice of mental health experts as to the best method to get the kid or their parents off of meth. With few exceptions the answer is to get them completely out of the environment where they use. The prior post seems to be right on in saying that placing the kids back in their old environment is a recipe for disaster. It seems logical that placing a kid back into a violent environment would also result in a likely continuation of the violence. The D.C. program seems counterproductive. I've worked in D.C. It didn't seem that there was any lack of drug specialists or mental health experts. What gives? It seems like logic 101.

Posted by: Fergie303 | June 7, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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