- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

Jane Doe is 12 years old, but not your average adolescent. She is a prostitute. A runaway. A girl who sold herself on the streets of the nation's capital until she was recently arrested. Now she is a victim in more ways than one. Is she the only one?
Jane is a victim of a truly disturbing set of bureaucratic circumstances. She ran away from New York City and ended up a month ago prostituting herself in downtown Washington. First, police mistakenly charged her as a fugitive from her New York guardian, and then a judge put her in the custody of the Youth Services Administration, which sent her to Oak Hill, a D.C. facility for young thugs and other juvenile offenders. There, she was sexually assaulted by two girls two girls because staffers weren't paying attention. D.C. authorities did the right thing and dropped the criminal charges. Then, they turned around and placed Jane in the custody of yet another D.C. agency, Child and Family Services. But New York had already issued an arrest warrant. So, after receiving medical attention for the horrendous assault, Jane was hauled back to D.C. Superior Court, and she was again remanded to the custody of Youth Services, which shipped her back to the scene of the crime. Jane is, finally, back home in New York.
Idiotic bureaucracy doesn't begin to characterize the maze of red tape tangled around Jane. Who knows how many other Janes, or John Does, the D.C. government has tortuously treated in a similar way.
All manner of authorities have made all manner of excuses all the way up the line to the head of D.C. Superior Court's Family Division, one Judge Lee Satterfield, who told The Washington Post that the court's hands were legally bound to send Jane to the troubled Oak Hill facility where youths run away at will, and steal workers' cars, and where other ominous signs of neglect and mismanagement have been well-documented. We join The Post in exposing this particular moral outrage.
Ordinarily, we restrain ourselves from recommending that Congress probe D.C. affairs. But Jane's odyssey is so outrageously outrageous that it clearly warrants an exception to even our rules.
D.C. authorities are investigating what went wrong or so they say. However, there were so many missteps regarding Jane's case that it could indeed be next Christmas before the truth comes to light and reforms are on the books. The compassion of Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, led the way to substantial reforms regarding at-risk children and foster care. Indeed, it was the death of a foster-care toddler two Christmases ago that forced the city to even consider reforming its deplorable child-services bureaucracy.
It is obvious, however, that the District continues to neglect vulnerable children and that is unconscionable. The entire lot of irresponsible D.C. authorities ought to be hauled in and held accountable.

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