Publications

Public Hearing Regarding B22-0041, the “Force of 4,200 – Police Officer Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017”

Testimony of Eduardo R. Ferrer
Legal & Policy Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Public Hearing before the Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety and
      the Committee on Housing & Neighborhood Revitalization
      B22-0105, the “First Responders Housing Incentive Program Amendment Act of 2017”
       and B22-0041, the “Force of 4,200 – Police Officer Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017”
Monday April 10, 2017
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Public Hearing before the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development regarding B22-0111, The Safe Way Home Act of 2017

Testimony of Eduardo R. Ferrer
Legal & Policy Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Public Hearing before the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
        B22-0111, “Safe Way Home Act of 2017”
Monday April 3, 2017
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Public Hearing before the Committee on Education on the Performance of the DC Public Schools

Written Testimony of Eduardo R. Ferrer
Legal & Policy Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Committee on Education Performance Oversight Hearing for
     the DC Public Schools
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Public Hearing before the Committee on Human Services on the Performance of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo
Executive Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Committee on the Human Services Performance Oversight Hearing for
     the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services
Wednesday March 1, 2017
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Public Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary On the Performance of the Department of Corrections

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo
Executive Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Committee on the Judiciary Performance Oversight Hearing for
     the Department of Corrections
Thursday February 13, 2017
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Public Roundtable before the Committee on Judiciary on Sentencing in the District of Columbia

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo
Executive Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Public Roundtable before the Committee on the Judiciary on
     Sentencing in the District of Columbia: Agency Roles and Responsibilities
Thursday February 9, 2017
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Public Roundtable before the Committee on the Education on The State of School Discipline: 2015-2016 School Year

Testimony of Eduardo R. Ferrer
Legal & Policy Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Public Roundtable before the Committee on the Education on
     The State of School Discipline: 2015-2016 School Year
Thursday February 2, 2017
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Transformation Through Accommodation: Reforming Juvenile Justice by Recognizing and Responding to Trauma

Author: Eduardo R. Ferrer, Legal & Policy Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Published in: American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 53, pp. 549-93 (2016).  
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Public Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary on B21-0683 “Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016”

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo
Executive Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Public Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary on
B21-0683 “Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016”
Thursday June 2, 2016
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Public Hearing before the Committee on Health and Human Services on the FY2017 Budget of the Department of Human Services

Testimony of Eduardo R. Ferrer
Legal & Policy Director
DC Lawyers for Youth
Public Hearing before the Committee on Health and Human Services
On Budget of the Department of Human Services
Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 10:00 am
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Public Hearing before the Committee on Judiciary on the FY2017 Budget of the Department of Corrections

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo
Executive Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Department of Corrections Budget Oversight Hearing
DC Council Committee on the Judiciary
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chairman
April 20, 2016
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Public Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary On the FY2017 Budget of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

Testimony of Daniel Okonkwo, Executive Director

Thursday, April 6, 2016, 10:00 am
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Public Hearing On B21-0508, “School Attendance Clarification Amendment Act of 2015”

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo,
Executive Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Hearing on B21-0508, "School Attendance Clarification
Amendment Act of 2015"
January 21, 2016
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Councilmember McDuffie Hearing on Neighborhood Engagement and Violence Prevention Legislation

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo
Executive Director, DC Lawyers for Youth
Joint Public Hearing On
B21-­0360, The “Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act Of 2015”
B21-­0357, The “Public Safety And Criminal Code Revisions Amendment Act Of 2015”
B21-­0382, The “Bail Reform Amendment Act Of 2015”
B21-­0384, The “District Of Columbia Good Time Credits Amendment Act Of 2015”
B21-­0189, The “Police And Criminal Discovery Reform Amendment Act Of 2015”
Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 1 P.M
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Youth Arrest and Court Involvement: Trends in the District of Columbia (1998-2014)

Arrest Petitions TrendsThis report summarizes recent data on youth arrests and court involvement in the District of Columbia.  It expands upon previous DCLY publications on this topic by utilizing arrest data from 1998 through 2014 and adding analysis of delinquency petitions. The data presented in this report are primarily from two sources. Youth arrest data can be found in the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) annual reports, years 1998-2014. Data concerning court petitions against young people under age 18 are available in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Family Division (Family Court) annual reports to Congress, years 2002-2014.

The key findings of the analysis are:

  1. Youth arrests are at their lowest point in the past 10 years, and have decreased 27% since 2009.
  2. Delinquency petitions against youth have decreased 29% since 2009.
  3. Youth arrests for most categories of serious crimes have decreased or held steady since 1998.
  4. In 2014, 77% of youth arrests and 52% of delinquency petitions were for non-violent, non-weapons offenses.
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Hearing on "Beyond 100 Homicides: Violent Crime In The District of Columbia"

Testimony Of R. Daniel Okonkwo
Executive Director, DC Lawyers For Youth
Hearing on "Beyond 100 Homicides: Violent Crime
In The District of Columbia"
September 16, 2015
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Fiscal Year 2014-15 Performance Oversight Hearing on the Deputy Mayor for Education

Testimony of Alex Peerman, Policy and Advocacy Associate
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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How DC’s Truancy Policy Fails Students, And Steps to Turn it Around

In the past few years, school attendance in the District has been improving. For example, the in-seat attendance rate in DC Public Schools increased 2% from the 2012-13 school year to the 2013-14 school year. However, some aspects of the District's attendance policy need to be improved. In particular, the Attendance Accountability Amendment Act of 2013 reduced the number of days that students can be absent before they are eligible for court referral. After this change, the number of complaints in Family Court based on an allegation that a child is "in need of supervision" (a category that includes truancy cases) increased by 92%. These additional court referrals are likely to be counter-productive given that research shows placing low-risk youth under court supervision increases their likelihood of future misbehavior.

In addition, punitive responses like court referral should not be used unless students have received early intervention that provides support they need to attend school. Some students do not attend because their families rely on them to care for younger siblings. Others are consistently late because they do not have money to take the Metro. Others are struggling in class so much that school seems more painful than helpful. Others face health or mental health barriers that prevent them from attending consistently. Each student's situation is different, and positive support services should always be the first tool that we use to engage students with inconsistent attendance. Despite these facts, DC Public Schools was only able to hold a "student support team" meeting that would provide such services for 38% of the students eligible for one during the first semester of this school year.

This report provides theoretical background on the reasons that some students fail to consistently attend school, presents data on the characteristics of DC students with high truancy rates, explains DC’s current truancy response policies, shows that the preventative elements of that response are under-funded, uses Family Court data to show that recent legal changes have driven a dramatic increase in truancy referrals, documents the lack of evidence that court prosecution is an effective way to get students to attend school, and shows that a truly effective response will require greater investments in school- and community-based services.

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Public Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary On Performance of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

Testimony of Daniel Okonkwo, Executive Director

Thursday, February 19, 2015, 10:00 am
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Fiscal Year 2014-15 Performance Oversight Hearing on the DC Public Schools

Testimony of Alex Peerman, Policy and Advocacy Associate

Wednesday, February 19, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Department of Corrections Performance Oversight Hearing 2015

Testimony of R. Daniel Okonkwo, Executive Director

DC Council Committee on the Judiciary
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chairman
February 19, 2015
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Fiscal Year 2014-15 Performance Oversight Hearing on the Public Charter School Board

Testimony of Alex Peerman, Policy and Advocacy Associate

Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC
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Committee on Education, Hearing on Bill 21-0001 and Student Discipline Practices and Procedures in Public Schools

Testimony of Alex Peerman, Policy and Advocacy Associate

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State Board of Education, Public Roundtable before the Truancy and Student Engagement Committee

Testimony of Alex Peerman, Policy & Advocacy Associate

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Capital City Correction: Reforming DC's Use of Adult Incarceration Against Youth

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Press Release | Full Report | Executive Summary

From 2007 to 2012, 541 youth were charged as adults and incarcerated in adult jail in the District of Columbia. While incarcerated in the adult jail, these DC youth were housed in a developmentally inappropriate and inadequate facility where they receive limited educational, behavioral health, and vocational services.  Most were not permitted to have in-person visits with family members. The majority of the time that youth spent at the adult jail was prior to trial, when youth are presumed innocent of the offense.

Research has consistently shown that trying youth as adults does not promote public safety and that youth in the adult system are at increased risk for victimization and suicide.  The Centers for Disease Control found that youth placed in the adult system are more likely to commit future crimes than similar youth treated in the juvenile system.  Adult facilities generally do not offer the rehabilitative programs youth need to turn their lives around, and their staff are often insufficiently trained to work with youth.  Youth in adult facilities are also at greater risk for sexual victimization, physical assault, and suicide.

This report explains how youth enter the adult system in DC, summarizes data about which DC youth experience adult prosecution, explains the scientific literature on adolescent brain development and the effects of incarcerating youth in adult facilities, and notes deficiencies in the Juvenile Unit that currently holds DC youth charged as adults.

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