D.C.'s Chief Judge Says More Authority Needed In Cases Involving Young Offenders | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

D.C.'s Chief Judge Says More Authority Needed In Cases Involving Young Offenders

Play associated audio

By Patrick Madden

D.C.'s juvenile justice system has come under scrutiny after several violent incidents involving young offenders. D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee Satterfield says the courts need more authority to sentence young offenders. As he explains, juvenile cases are different from adult trials. For one, there is no jury.

"We hear the case. We hear from the victims. We do studies on the juvenile offender and we are in a good position to make decisions about safety of the juvenile offender and the safety of the community," says Satterfield.

Except that "those decisions" are made by the city. A 2003 ruling stripped judges in the District of any authority over young offenders once they are committed to detention.

"It's definitely out of our hands," he says. "We recommend the youth be committed, it's the decision of the city whether or not they go to a secure facility or to some residential placement or back into the community and go home."

Marc Schindler, director of D.C.'s Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services, says his agency listens to the judges.

"But there are a number of cases where not everyone is going to agree and under the law we are tasked with making that decision," says Schindler.

But the chief judge says letting the courts have some say in these cases makes "common sense."

"Youth need to know that if it's the judge or if it's the family setting, it's the parent, that that person can hold you accountable," says Satterfield.


Wounded Bull-Runner: 'If You Run Long Enough, You Get Gored'

Bill Hillmann, a writer from Chicago, contributed to the book Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona. He was gored at this year's running of the bulls in that city, but says he plans to return.

What If The World Cup Were Awarded For Saving Trees And Drinking Soda?

We thought you'd get a kick out of seeing how the four teams in the final World Cup matches stack up in global health and development.

What Could $100 Million Buy You — Besides Campaign Ads In Kentucky?

Spending on the Kentucky Senate race might reach $100 million. So what else could that get you in the Bluegrass State? NPR's Tamara Keith finds out when she calls up some local business owners.

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.