Basic services, 2017

  • Overall

    Locally operated

  • Detention

    Locally operated

  • Probation

    Locally operated

  • Reentry

    Locally operated

Administration of delinquency services in the District of Columbia are divided between the executive and judicial branches. The Superior Court’s Social Services Division (CSS), of the judicial branch, administers probation services.

An executive branch agency, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), administers aftercare services and commitment to public state facilities. DYRS also operates secure detention facilities in the District of Columbia.

Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Corrections agency, 2015

  • Independent juvenile corrections agency

  • Family/child welfare agency or division

  • Broad human services agency

  • Adult corrections agency or division

The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) administers commitments to state juvenile correctional facilities and aftercare services for youth leaving those facilities.

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer.

Pre-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

Solitary confinement, 2016

  • Prohibits punitive confinement

  • Limits punitive confinement

  • No limits on punitive confinement

  • Did not respond

Solitary confinement for punitive purposes is not allowed in the District of Columbia's juvenile correctional facilities. Non-punitive confinement allowed up for to 3 days without a hearing if a youth poses risk to self/others or is an escape risk.  (Adapted from 51 Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems, 2016. Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler LLP) 

Release decision, 2016

  • Agency

  • Court

  • Parole board

  • Agency and court

Release decisions in the District of Columbia can be made by the committing courts or the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS). The Court can require that DYRS obtain approval prior to ending the youth’s commitment, or it can grant DYRS authority to end the commitment when the agency deems appropriate. NCJJ's 2005 survey indicated that DYRS made release decisions for all commitments.

Risk assessment, 2020

Organization 2013 2017 2020
Statewide uniform assessment
Layered/regional assessment
Locally administered assessment

Juvenile probation services are primarily administered by the DC Superior Court's, Court Social Services Department (CSS). The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) additionally may supervise youth committed to its custody in the community.

CSS has adopted and locally validated the Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scale (CBRS) for its case planning; whereas DYRS has adopted the National Council of Crime and Delinquency's Structured Decision Making (SDM) tool.

The CBRS is used to develop/inform pre-disposition recommendations, assign community supervision level, develop probation case plans and make custody recommendations. The CBRS is automated and further used to advance research and planning within CSS and for ongoing policy research that is published by researchers within the CSS Child Guidance Clinic. In contrast, the SDM is used by DYRS to determine appropriate level of restrictiveness for committed youth. The SDM has also been locally validated with research assistance from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Sex offender registration, 2015

Does not register

Risk instruments, 2017

  • Statute or agency policy

    Required by state or administrative regulation

  • Agency recommended

    Recommended by probation oversite agency

Risk instruments tool used
Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scale

Mental health screening, 2014

Requires a research-based mental health screening

  • Secure detention

  • Probation

  • Corrections

Mental health screening is not required.

Mental health screening tool used
Screening not required

The District of Columbia (DC) encourages the use of research-based mental health screening through the Superior Court/Family Part's Court Social Services (CSS) adolescent behavioral health clinic (the Child Guidance Clinic). The District's juvenile justice code and the state juvenile justice plan are silent on naming a specific tool and the Clinic has adopted the Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scale (CBRS). Screening results are entered into an automated version of the CBRS and PhD level clinicians subsequently use their own CBRS data to validate the scale on clients in the DC court services system.

The Department of Youth Rehabilitation and Services (DYRS) reviews mental health screening and assessment information from Court Social Services. For youth placed in secure detention or in DYRS custody, DYRS conducts mental health screening with the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, Version 2 (MAYSI-2). DYRS also administers a specific battery of additional screening for trauma symptoms and substance abuse. The cost of the CSS and DYRS, mental health screening systems are part of their existing operating budgets.

Frameworks for evidence-based practices, 2014

  • Statute

    Supporting commitment to EBPs

  • Administrative regulations

    Either in corrections, probation, or the juvenile court

  • Support center

    Or collaboration dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs

  • No stance

    No official stance on EBPs

  • Did not respond

    State did not respond to the survey

The District of Columbia (DC) supports the implementation and proliferation of evidence-based programs and practices (EBPs) through its Court Social Services, Child Guidance Clinic. PhD. level clinicians in the clinic are currently developing a definition for EBPs for DC and they are actively involved in validating new screening approaches and developing local norms for standardized screens they purchase. The DC Department of Behavioral Health is the manager of behavioral health services and pays for court ordered EBP interventions. The Clinic has developed a research database of thousands of court involved youth that it uses to advance knowledge concerning effective interventions and regularly contribute to the research literature in peer reviewed academic journals.

The Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) has implemented a sequence of reforms to adopt EBPs in screening, assessment and structured decision making for youth committed to their custody. The agency has a mandate to place youth in least restrictive and most homelike environments while addressing public safety. DYRS has adopted the Positive Youth Justice approach to using data and research to deliver on this mandate.

Recidivism reporting, 2016

Study populations

The group(s) of youth being studied in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Re-offense events

Events that are used to measure recidivism in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Follow-up periods

Details regarding the length of time and frequency that youth are tracked in states that publicly report recidivism data.

12 months with adult systems reporting


Additional levels of analysis provided in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • County

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race/ethn.

  • Risk level

  • Initial offense

  • Re-offense

  • Prior history

The Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS) in the District of Columbia reports recidivism for youth committed to DYRS custody. Recidivism is defined as a committed youth who is convicted in Washington, D.C. of a new juvenile or adult offense which occurred within 12 months of being placed in or returned to the community.

Data sources

Agency Progress Report 2014
DC Youth Rehabilitation Services
Public Safety Indicators (2010-2014)
Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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