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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Presses BOP to Transfer Local D.C. Code Juveniles to the District, Closer to Their Families

Oct 4, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released Norton’s letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons Acting Director Hugh Hurwitz asking that five District of Columbia Code juveniles currently housed by BOP in a juvenile facility in Pennsylvania be transferred to an appropriate facility in the District.  District of Columbia Code felons are the only local felons housed by BOP.

In her letter, Norton wrote, “I understand that your interpretation of [the D.C. Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016] would prohibit D.C. juveniles from being housed at a [D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC)] facility.  However, another District agency, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), has secure residential facilities that house juveniles under its jurisdiction, and we have learned that this facility is as secure as the DOC facilities.  Therefore, we believe that these juveniles should be located in a DYRS facility in the District… It continues to be of great importance for BOP to house its D.C. Code juveniles here in the District, close to their families and support networks.”

Norton’s full letter is below.

Hugh J. Hurwitz
Acting Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street NW
Washington, DC 20534

Dear Acting Director Hurwitz:

I write to follow up on the inquiry I sent in January regarding the placement of District of Columbia Code juveniles under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).  I understand that there are currently five such juveniles, all of whom are housed at the Abraxas Academy in Morgantown, Pennsylvania.  I write to ask why these juveniles are no longer housed in appropriate facilities in the District.

In BOP’s April 7 response to me, the agency said that “[a]s of October, 2018, the D.C. [Department of Corrections (DOC)] will no longer be able to house juveniles due to the D.C. Council’s passage of The Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016.”  I understand that your interpretation of that law would prohibit D.C. juveniles from being housed at a DOC facility.  However, another District agency, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), has secure residential facilities that house juveniles under its jurisdiction, and we have learned that this facility is as secure as the DOC facilities.  Therefore, we believe that these juveniles should be located in a DYRS facility in the District.  This change would be in keeping with what BOP agreed to in 2012 when, at my request, BOP agreed to house its D.C. Code juveniles in D.C. so that they could be closer to their families and support networks.  Under the 2012 agreement, D.C. juveniles were returned from North Dakota to the District.  We very much appreciated that change.  It was in keeping with studies that uniformly show that, even for adult inmates, the most important factor in avoiding recidivism upon release is frequent contact with family and friends while a person has been incarcerated.  It continues to be of great importance for BOP to house its D.C. Code juveniles here in the District, close to their families and support networks.

I appreciate your consideration, and ask that you respond in writing with thirty days.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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