‘Juvenile justice reform’ — or a clear-and-present threat?

Manuel D. Sanchez, 29, of Capitol Heights was with a crew of people hired a week ago to clean up the area in the rear of an apartment house in the 4600 block of Hillside Road in Southeast Washington. Sanchez didn’t make it home. Just after 2:00 p.m. last Friday he was shot to death.

Sad how things happen. Sanchez was trying to clean up the District when a ward of the city — 16-year-old Javon Hale, a juvenile defendant who was, at the time, in the custody of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services — allegedly shot and killed him, according to police. Hale has been arrested and charged as an adult with felony murder.

But, you may ask, if this 16-year-old was in custody of the city, what in the world was he doing in the rear of an apartment house in Southeast D.C. with a gun?

Two well-placed government sources said that although Hale had been committed to DYRS custody by a court, the department chose to place him with a community facility. That facility gave Hale a weekend pass, and, voila, he found his way to Hillside Road SE. After the shooting, according to the government sources, Hale returned to the community facility — having exhausted his agreed-upon free time in the city.

The progressives call this kind of community placement “juvenile justice reform.” I say it’s a disgrace and a clear-and-present threat to public safety. But the admission of mistakes just isn’t in the nature of the “enlightened.”

Story By Colbert King  |  June 4, 2010; 6:32 PM ET

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