(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees, (AFGE), which represents employees throughout the federal and DC government, including the Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services, (DYRS), today, issued a statement following the reported “riot” situation at the New Beginnings juvenile detention center. According to media reports, 70 youths held at the detention center refused to enter their electronically controlled bedroom units shortly after 7:20 p.m. and began to engage staff members resulting in a mêlée.
“The incident that occurred over the weekend is another black mark on D.C.’s Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services,” said Dwight Bowman, AFGE 14th District national vice-president, which represents federal and DC workers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. “Whether inside the New Beginnings facility or supervising committed youth who reside in the community, the Fenty administration has proven itself to be incapable of managing the youthful offender population. The agency is under resourced, jeopardizing the safety of the employees, the committed youth, and the general public.”
“AFGE has been lobbying Fenty to improve resources for the agency since he was chair of the City Council’s Committee on Human Services, which oversees DYRS. Instead of heeding those warnings from front line DYRS staff, Fenty has made repeated attempts to reduce staffing levels within the agency, either through reductions-in-force or outright privatization,” Bowman said.
“The development of the $46 million New Beginnings facility is a prime example of the agency’s mismanagement under the Fenty administration, which has been plagued with escape attempts and a lack of security since its inception,” said Bowman. The facility was built to house 60 youth offenders, but now houses at least 70.