Young Criminals Putting City at Risk?

By Mark Stephens and Jackie Bensen
|  Tuesday, Jun 8, 2010  |  Updated 6:21 AM EDT
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Young Criminals Putting Public at Risk?

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Young Criminals Putting Public at Risk?

News 4 has learned there could be changes coming to the way young criminals are punished after another high-profile murder with a teenage suspect.
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Some young criminals may be putting the public at risk in the District, and poor decisions by a city agency may be playing a role.

 
The District of Columbia's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) is facing criticism following another high-profile murder involving a teen suspect.
 
It happened last week outside a garden apartment complex on Hillside Road, SE. Manuel Sanchez, 29, had just finished landscape work when he was shot and killed during an attempted robbery. Javon Hale, 16, was arrested a few days later. He's charged with murder as an adult in the case.
 
At the time of the incident, he'd been committed to Boys Town through DYRS, the agency responsible for punishing youth offenders in the city, officials said. He'd been given a weekend pass to visit his family hours before the slaying, sources said.
 
A union official for DYRS employees said others are at risk.
 
"The poor choices that the agency is making with community-based placements has taken its toll on every ward of the District of Columbia from Ward 1 to Ward 8," said John Walker with the AFGE Local 383.
 
Walker said the March 30 drive-by shooting in Southeast is another example of DYRS failures. Five were injured and four were killed in that incident.
 
Following a public outcry over that incident, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles announced an investigation. On Monday he told News4 he was aware of the Sanchez murder.

"I am looking with great focus at all arrests of DYRS-committed youth for murder and attempted murder in 2009 and 2010," Nickles said. "We have a confluence of individuals accused of homicide and victims of homicide. I have been looking at those, and I am coming to a conclusion."

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