Councilman Proposes Less Secrecy About Violent Juveniles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson proposed a new bill today that would make it easier to access the records of violent juvenile offenders. (Published Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010)

    A D.C. councilman proposed releasing the records of the city's most violent juvenile offenders.

    Such offenders generally are shielded by the law from public disclosure of their records, even to government agencies trying to help them. On Tuesday, Councilman Phil Mendelson, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, proposed that the city ease the secrecy around the most violent juvenile offenders in order to protect the public and improve help for those offenders.

    "The intent of the bill is to pierce the veil of confidentially, to pierce the veil of secrecy that surrounds the juvenile justice system," he said.

    Specifically, Mendelson's bill would allow some disclosure of secret juvenile records for any juvenile convicted of a violent crime or who has twice been convicted of auto theft, a common problem.

    The council is under pressure from public safety groups and citizens that contend violent juvenile offenders are released too easily or escape too easily and then commit other crimes.

    Some council members argued that releasing too much information could permanently harm wrongly accused juveniles or reduce the chances of offenders' rehabilitation.

    A vote on passage of the bill is not expected until the fall.