Council members to examine DYRS leadership

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“The agency responded swiftly and decisively immediately following the escapes,” Mr. Shorter said, pointing out that all of the recent escapees have been detained again, and DYRS has increased its staffing levels. “We work hard to make sure the community is safe and rehabilitation is occurring in a thoughtful way.”

But a DYRS official said Mr. Stanley and his inner circle, some of whom come from law and public management backgrounds, “may be smart people who want to do well, but they do not have the political savvy, toughness or the hands-on facility or programming experience to do the job.”

Another DYRS official said D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray should be concerned about the lack of practical experience at the management level, and challenged the general perception that “people can just transfer over from other walks of life and do this kind of work. … When that escape happened, we really needed Jeff McInnis, but we didn’t have him around.”

If he is confirmed as full-time director, DYRS officials say, Mr. Stanley will have to bridge philosophical differences within the agency about the rehabilitative mantra of Mr. Schiraldi and the national youth advocates who hail him as a champion of juvenile justice. As the April 18 escape and beating and the South Carolina escapes unfolded, those sources said, cracks in the foundation of Mr. Stanley’s team began to show.

Meanwhile, other challenges exist that DYRS officials have hesitated to disclose. For instance, DYRS relies on youth placements at a residential facility near Richmond to backstop New Beginnings, which houses 60 youths, a DYRS official said. The Pines Residential Treatment Center has housed up to 25 committed D.C. youths at any given time, the official said. But because of a licensing issue, DYRS has halted referrals to the Pines, Mr. Shorter confirmed on Tuesday.

“We have a host of other options for residential, group home and secure facility placements,” he said.

One such group home, Rest Assured LLC, also in the Richmond area, until recently housed three D.C. youths who walked away April 22, were arrested by Chesterfield County Police and detained once more at a nearby locked facility. No further details about what prompted the arrests were available.

“We’re doing the best professional job we can,” said Mr. Shorter. “Reshaping an agency this size takes time.”

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