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Statement from Mayor Bowser on the Recommendation to Terminate Oversight of the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

Friday, October 16, 2020

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, after Special Arbiter Grace Lopes recommended the end of court oversight and monitoring in Jerry M., et al. v. District of Columbia, et al., a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of youth in the District’s secure juvenile detention facilities, Mayor Muriel Bowser released the following statement. Originally filed in 1985, Jerry M. is the District’s oldest consent decree case.

“This recommendation acknowledges the dedication, hard work, and devotion that the District has to our court-involved youth and the well-being of our entire community. DYRS continues to serve as a national leader in the juvenile justice space, modeling engagement focused on restorative justice and demonstrating every day that our young people and their families are worthy of our compassion, hope, empowerment, and the highest quality of services. I want to thank Director Lacey and the DYRS staff for their commitment to our youth, our families and community stakeholders for their partnership, as well as the Office of the Attorney General, Special Arbiter Grace Lopes, and the Plaintiffs’ Counsel for helping us get to this point.”

The District and Plaintiffs’ counsel reached a settlement that was preliminarily approved by the DC Superior Court to end court oversight in February. The settlement agreement received final approval on July 1, 2020. One of the conditions of the settlement included the Special Arbiter’s recommendation to the Court regarding whether the lawsuit may be appropriately terminated.

As another part of the settlement, the District will establish the Office of Independent Juvenile Justice Facilities Oversight. The independent office will monitor the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services’ (DYRS) secure juvenile facilities to ensure that the progress that the District has made throughout the course of the lawsuit is sustained and improved upon in such a manner that supports the agency’s mission of providing the nation’s best continuum of care for court-involved youth and their families.

A forthcoming hearing to dismiss the case will be scheduled and announced.