WASHINGTON - D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said Friday, during
an American University Law Review discussion on Race and the
Juvenile Justice System, that he wants restorative justice to become
"the default way of dealing with juveniles" – even for some of the
most serious crimes, like murder.
Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee have argued
that police are making the arrests but violent juvenile offenders,
especially in carjacking crimes, are not being held accountable.
Mayor Bowser said on Wednesday, "… Not every young person, should be
in a diversion program."
The Office of the Attorney General repleted in a recent email to FOX
5. "As a rule—and with almost no exceptions—OAG does not offer
diversion for crimes of violence, including carjacking," the email
The OAG spokesperson also provided FOX 5 with the following
information on juvenile carjackings prosecutions last year:
· Zero juvenile carjacking cases were diverted in 2021.
· Of the 101 carjacking cases OAG papered in 2021, 78 young people
were held responsible for a crime (this is the juvenile justice
system’s equivalent of being convicted).
· The remaining 24 cases are a mix of those that are still pre-trial
and those that were dismissed (likely for lack of evidence).
· The juvenile justice system works differently from the adult
system. In the juvenile justice system, judges can choose to place
an adjudicated delinquent youth on probation or "commit" the youth
to DYRS. The judge can commit the youth to DYRS custody/supervision
for any period of time up to the youth’s 21st birthday. Whether the
youth is placed in secure detention is, under the law, left to DYRS
to determine. (The judge does not have the authority to sentence the
youth to a period of incarceration, that is a choice made by DYRS.)
The Mayor’s office argued on Friday that while the OAG is not
offering diversion programs for youth offenders committing violent
crimes, they are offering a restorative justice program that the
Mayor’s team claims is essentially a "post-adjudication diversion
It was explained to FOX 5 there is still prosecution even if the
juvenile is entered into the AG's Restorative Justice Program.
The Mayor’s Office also claimed more youth offenders of armed
robbery are going to the OAG’s restorative justice program, over
DYRS and court monitoring.
An official in the Mayor’s office clarified there is no exact
"carjacking" charge for juvenile offenders and explained many of
these cases fall under juvenile armed robbery charges.
In 2021, the Mayor’s Office told FOX 5, the District had a total of
283 juvenile armed robbery cases prosecuted with these sentencing
· Alternative disposition (deferred agreement)- 119 [OAG restorative
· Dismissed- 55
· Committed- 46 [to DYRS]
· Probation- 63 [under supervision of DC Superior Court Family Court
Social Services Division [FCSSD]]
The OAG’s office could not confirm these figures. Nor could the
Mayor’s Office confirm the OAG’s figures.
FOX 5 requested both offices provide information on which juveniles
convicted in carjacking-related cases last year re-offended.
We also requested more information on what programs those juveniles recommitting violent offenses were assigned to before recidivism
The Attorney General noted in his panel discussion that restorative
justice is only offered if the victim wants it. The AG’s office told
FOX 5 in 2021, their office only had two carjacking cases and three
armed robbery cases that went through the Attorney General's
restorative justice program.