Barry fires back at Gray on DYRS funding

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Council member Marion Barry has hit back at Mayor Vincent C. Gray for claiming he held up security enhancements at a Laurel facility with a history of escapes and violence against officers by juvenile wards of the District’s juvenile justice agency.

Mr. Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, sent a letter to Mr. Gray on Tuesday that says the mayor’s team is “solely to blame” for security lapses at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center.

He says Mr. Gray allowed a funding request by Neil Stanley, director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, to languish from January to July.

“It took seven months to process something of such high concern to all of us,” Mr. Barry said, noting an incident last spring in which a youthful offender beat an officer and drove to Southeast. “It is also important that the public know that if this request was processed and security enhancements were completed prior to now, it is unlikely that the April 18th escape would have occurred.”

His correspondence follows a Sept. 8 letter from Mr. Gray to Mr. Barry, which says the council member’s disapproval resolution from early August has held up $1.5 million in capital dollars to replace faulty doors and other repairs at New Beginnings.

Mr. Barry, who is known for such delay tactics, said he examines every city contract and became frustrated by DYRS’s lack of response to various inquiries.

“Upon reviewing the $1.5 million reprogramming request for security enhancements at New Beginnings, I had several questions and concerns … Although I received the detailed description of the enhancements to be completed, I never received the agency’s present plan of action.”

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