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Juvie hall planned for Ward 5

(Published June 28, 1999)

By REBECCA CHARRY

Staff Writer

City officials plan to build an 80-bed residential facility for juveniles awaiting trial on the site of the now-closed Receiving Home for Boys on Mount Olivet Road NE. Youth Services Administration Director Gayle Turner described the project June 24 at a roundtable meeting on public safety.

Two of the cityís three youth detention facilities have closed in recent years, Turner said, leaving only the aging 188-bed Oak Hill facility in Laurel, Md., which houses both youth awaiting trial and those already sentenced.

The new facility would combine bed space for juveniles awaiting trial with Metropolitan Police Department intake facilities and probation and parole services, said Turnerís assistant, Ira Holland. The new facility, which city leaders are calling a "youth services center," would eliminate frequent, costly and time-consuming trips between D.C. Superior Court downtown and Laurel, Holland said.

"Right now our services are too separate and disjointed," Holland said. Turner said youths arrested and brought to the central intake facility at the courthouse often end up being transported to Laurel in the middle of the night.

"The District is desperately in need of a new detention facility," said Robert Wilkins of the public defenders service, who is working on the plan. He described the existing facility, Oak Hill, as "outdated and obsolete."

The Districtís services to youth offenders have been under court order since 1985, when lawsuits first charged that juveniles were beaten, neglected and kept in dirty, dangerous and overcrowded buildings. Since then it has been overseen by D.C. Superior Court Judge George W. Mitchell, who ordered the Receiving Home closed in 1994.

George Boyd, chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B, in which the site is located, said commissioners have received no official notice of the planned facility.

Holland said demolition of the existing buildings could begin as soon as October.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator