Magazine article Corrections Forum

Therapy in, Harsh Punishment out, in D.C. Youth Corrections

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Therapy in, Harsh Punishment out, in D.C. Youth Corrections

Article excerpt

Washington Post

Inside Oak Hill, Washington, D.C.'s juvenile corrections facility in suburban Maryland, harsh punishment is out and therapy is in. Dingy cellblocks are out; they now have carpeting and cushioned furniture. Striking an officer, smoking marijuana, or destroying property no longer gets a young offender thrown into a dark cell. Now, they call a meeting. It's part of an evolving, controversial effort to deter young delinquents from becoming career criminals by keeping fewer behind bars and surrounding the rest with counselors, drug rehabilitation, and social workers at their homes to strengthen broken families.

The changes are the work of Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services since 2005. "You have got to lock up as few as possible," he said. "The ones you do lock up, you have got to treat them in a way that can turn their lives around and not create the self-concept that the next stop is jail or prison. …

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