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Advocates for juvenile justice are criticizing D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s decision to replace the head of the city’s juvenile justice agency with a prosecutor from the attorney general’s office.
Advocates like Liz Ryan at the Campaign for Youth Justice said they believe removing interim director Marc Schindler will jeopardize many of the department’s reforms over the past five years.
“It’s like changing horses in mid stream, you're going to lose all the momentum that you built up and so I think the mayor is listening to people like Peter Nickles and he is getting bad advice,” says Ryan.
Peter Nickles is the District’s attorney general. Ryan and others want an investigation into the role he played in the decision.
The new director, Robert Hildum, was Nickles’ top deputy and in charge of juvenile prosecutions.
Five years ago, D.C. dramatically overhauled how it cares for juvenile offenders. The city emphasized rehabilitation over incarceration, but after a series of high-profile crimes, the reform effort has come under scrutiny.
New director Hildum said despite his background as a prosecutor he will follow the path set by his predecessors.
“I do know many, many prosecutors who do share my view and many prosecutors who are now in the juvenile justice community are part of the reform. I am very proud of the reform, and I absolutely have been asked to continue that,” says Hildum.
Hildum will serve as an interim head.
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