In response to two highly publicized escapes, a D.C. Council member who oversees the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services wants to speed up the release of pertinent information to the public when a young offender flees from custody.
Currently, DYRS provides only "descriptive information of the escapee" to assist the apprehension of young offenders who may be a danger to themselves or the public, according to the office of Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat who oversees the Committee on Human Services.
Mr. Graham will introduce a resolution Tuesday that would allow DYRS to release a photograph and "other relevant information determined by the agency as additional tools to quickly and safely apprehend a juvenile escapee" instead of waiting for a court order.
The legislation is designed to let the public assist law enforcement in the search for juvenile fugitives, placing the youths on par with adult offenders who escape from custody.
"In addition, the release of a photo would be a deterrent to youthful offenders considering escaping from a detention facility or nonsecure placement," the resolution says.
Mr. Graham's office developed the legislation after a pair of escapes in April by D.C. wards placed at facilities in Maryland and South Carolina.
DYRS released a brief narrative about how each escape happened but provided few other details.
Acting DYRS Director Neil A. Stanley told reporters that he was unable to comment on issues such as the offenders' names, their criminal backgrounds or whether they should be considered dangerous.
The first involved 18-year-old Treyvon Cortez Carey, who escaped April 18 after beating a corrections officer at New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel and driving the officer's car to Southeast, authorities said. Carey's name and photo were not released until four days after the incident because of the lengthy court process to obtain permission, Mr. Graham's office said.
Authorities on Monday confirmed that Carey had been recaptured.
Three days after Carey escaped, a quartet of D.C. wards hopped a fence at the Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Center in South Carolina. Three were picked up the next day, and 19-year-old Delonte Parker was arrested Wednesday in Laurel after a week on the lam.
The incident caused a stir in Summerville, S.C., 25 miles from Charleston. State legislators, who said they knew little about the facility's clients, quickly introduced a bill to heighten security and transparency at youth treatment facilities that house out-of-state offenders.
Mr. Graham also has questioned the wisdom of placing D.C. wards so far from the District, citing the lack of a support network from their families.
His resolution, titled the Juvenile Escape Disclosure of Information Temporary Amendment Act of 2011, will be introduced as emergency legislation, which calls for a council vote after a single reading. It would take effect immediately.
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Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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