"Mini-Riot" At D.C. Youth Detention Center In Laurel | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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"Mini-Riot" At D.C. Youth Detention Center In Laurel

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By Patrick Madden

Authorities are investigating what one union leader is calling a "mini-riot" at D.C.'s detention center for young offenders in Laurel, Maryland.

It happened last night. One supervisor suffered a broken jaw; the disturbance lasted over an hour and police from Maryland and D.C. were called in to bring everyone back into their cells.

Outside the front gates to the New Beginnings facility in Laurel, it's easy to see why this place was dubbed the anti-prison by its former director. It's located on a sprawling 30-acre campus of green trees and dense foliage and, on the inside, the $46 million facility is state-of-the art, with an expansive cafeteria and huge windows to let light in.

It's become the symbol for the city's new take on juvenile justice, the anti-dote to the notorious Oak Hill facility that used to operate here. Rehabilitation, not punishment is the philosophy.

But, according to Tasha Williams, leader of the corrections officer union for the facility, New Beginnings has become too lenient, with too few guards and not enough tools to keep the young people in line.

"That facility is not run by those children," she says, "but that's what those children perceive when they come there." "They know it's not Oak Hill. And they know there, they can do X, Y, Z and they try their hand."

At the time of incident, Williams says there were around 70 detainees in New Beginnings, but the facility is designed to hold 60 people.

A DYRS spokesperson at the gates of New Beginnings would not comment on the incident, and he says a statement may or may not be released later today.

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