- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2011

The same month Andre Wiggins was released from the custody of the District’s juvenile justice agency, police raided his Northeast home and found a handgun and a vial of PCP, according to officials and court records.

The 19-year-old was arrested on Oct. 18 and charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was released from jail on Oct. 21 and sent home on house arrest.

Five days later, he was dead.

On Oct. 26, police found Wiggins with multiple gunshot wounds less than a block from his home in the Clay Terrace neighborhood. Wiggins’ commitment to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, the District agency tasked with rehabilitating approximately 1,000 youths, had ended in September, although it was unclear why, due to the confidential nature of juvenile court records.

The agency became the target of increased scrutiny this month when the family of a man believed to have been killed by a DYRS ward filed a $20 million lawsuit alleging DYRS “incompetently supervised the juveniles under their control.”

D.C. council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Human Services that has oversight of DYRS, said he could not comment specifically on Wiggins’ case until he had reviewed the file.

“But quite frankly, there are now so many,” he said. “It gives me a real window into what happened.”

According to court records, Wiggins was referred for youth rehabilitation last year after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a 2009 armed robbery. After a mistrial, he admitted to driving the carjacked vehicle used in the robbery.

Details about Wiggins’ commitment to DYRS were sealed in court records, but a DYRS source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to discuss the case, confirmed Wiggins was a ward of the agency until September and that his prior criminal record included fleeing law enforcement, receiving stolen property, PCP possession, disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer. That same month, members of the Metropolitan Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration raided Wiggins’ family home after receiving a tip that Wiggins was selling drugs.

During the Sept. 29 raid, police recovered a Glock 9mm pistol, dozens of rounds of ammunition and a 1-ounce vial of PCP from inside Wiggins’ bedroom, according to court records. Wiggins was not home at time but was arrested and charged on Oct. 18.

Wiggins was released and was scheduled to return to Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency on Oct. 24 to receive an electronic monitoring bracelet. Two days later, just before noon, he was gunned down.

Neither the lawyer who was representing Wiggins in the most recent case nor his family could be reached for comment by phone. No arrests have been made in his death.

R. Daniel Okonkwo, the executive director of DC Lawyers for Youth, said Wiggins’ tragic case is not the norm but that recently agencies that monitor youth, including DYRS, are being expected to oversee an increasing number of youths with steadily shrinking budgets.

“It’s a situation where we are asking for a result that we are not prepared to invest enough in to get,” Mr. Okonkwo said.

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