Washington Times Ties Youth Murders to DYRS

The Washington Times has run an excellent series over the past several weeks examining D.C. youths who are wards of the city and have been involved in crime.

Tonight reporters Jeffery Anderson and Matthew Cella published their latest finds: 16-year-old Prince Okorie, who was shot in the head and killed Tuesday afternoon in Petworth, had been in the care of a DYRS shelter since Nov. 9. And Ebony Franklin, the 17-year-old Prince George’s County girl whose body was found stabbed and stuffed in a trash bin in Columbia Heights on Monday, had worked with youth-outreach counselors for more than a year.

Franklin was not a ward of DYRS and Okorie, though in the care of DYRS, had not been committed to them, the Times added.

According to the Times’ investigation one in five D.C. homicides from Sept. 1, 2009, through Aug. 31 “involved a youth in custody of DYRS either as a suspect or a victim.” The Times’ continuing investigation, including today’s coverage of the Okorie and Franklin murders, indicate that the Times, at least, sees DYRS youth involvement in violent crime as a trend.

Since The Times concluded its analysis on Aug. 31, at least 10 people age 22 or younger who were arrested for homicides in the city were either actively committed to the District’s custody or their commitment had recently expired. Four more were victims of homicides.

Despite acknowledgment by the interim director of DYRS, the city’s police chief and the mayor-elect that the deadly trend of DYRS youth-involved killings must be addressed, officials are hard-pressed to assure the public that they know how to put a stop to it - or where the trend will lead.

If you haven’t already, check out the Time’s series. It’s good investigative work that needs to be talked about.

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