City's youth agency working on closing the gaps

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Local,DC,Aubrey Whelan

A convicted shooter and one of the victims in the 2010 South Capitol Street massacre were wards of the District, under the care of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. In the two years since, the city agency says it has improved when it comes to keeping tabs on some of the city's young criminals and at-risk youth.

Still, the agency has acknowledged there are improvements yet to be made in the wake of the shootings, which left five dead and nine injured in three attacks over eight days in March 2010.

In the 2010 fiscal year, 18 DYRS wards were charged with homicide, according to data provided to The Washington Examiner by DYRS. Eleven more were the victims of homicides that year. In fiscal 2011, nine DYRS youth were killed in homicides, while seven were charged in killings.

The DYRS refers to wards who are "not where [they are] supposed to be" as "absconders." So far this year, abscondence rates are down 26 percent on any given day, compared with the same period last year. An average of 43 out of 831 youth have been missing from the DYRS on any given day this year, according to data from the agency. Abscondence rates dropped from 8.1 percent in fiscal 2010 to 6.1 percent in fiscal 2011, according to DYRS data.

"While strides have been made, we are not satisfied and will continue to aggressively address abscondences going forward," DYRS spokeswomanAmanda Petteruti wrote in an email Tuesday.

D.C. laws, too, have tightened in the wake of the shootings. Earlier this year, the D.C. Council passed legislation designed to help teachers report and crack down on truancy and to institute more comprehensive mental health screenings for at-risk youth.

awhelan@washingtonexaminer.com

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Aubrey Whelan

Staff Reporter - Crime
The Washington Examiner