DC AG on prosecuting juveniles as adults: 'Kids are kids'

D.C.’s Attorney General Brian Schwalb hosted another listening session Tuesday – this time in Ward 5.

The goal is to inform residents about the work his office is tasked with and also allow the community to share their thoughts and concerns. 

FOX 5 asked the AG why kids and teens aren’t facing serious consequences for their violent actions.

He mentioned we need to ask ourselves why young people are getting in trouble in the first place, look at the root causes, and give them mercy.

"We also are committed in the juvenile system to treat kids like kids and that we give kids what the law requires, which is a chance of rehabilitation and going on to live lives of success and independence," Schwalb said. "Kids are different than adults and our job as the attorney general of the city is to keep the city safe, but also make sure we stay true to our obligation to young people."

"I don’t think kids should be treated as adults," Schwalb continued. "Kids are kids and when you’re talking about teenagers particular – their brains are developing, their minds are developing, and their biologically prone to make mistakes – that’s what we’ve all done as we’ve grown up."

Data shows violent crimes involving young suspects are on the rise in the District.

Right now, two 15-year-old boys and one 16-year-old are accused of violently stealing from more than 10 people in the span of just five hours.

According to D.C. police, the string of robberies started at 12:45 a.m. on Sunday, April 23, and they continued to happen several minutes apart.


DC AG Brian Schwalb visits Ward 8

D.C.'s Attorney General Brian Schwalb is on a citywide tour meeting with different wards – getting to know their concerns, challenges, and what more needs to be done to create safer communities.

In most cases, the young suspects pulled out a gun and demanded money or property.

Back on Saturday, April 15, investigators arrested and charged a 12-year-old and 14-year-old boy for armed robbery, burglary, theft, and unauthorized use of a vehicle theft. 

At the start of the month, three teenage girls and a 17-year-old boy are allegedly connected to 13 robberies at gunpoint that happened in the span of five days.

FOX 5 spoke with Ward 5 residents who attended the meeting.

Some did raise concerns about how D.C. leaders plan to take action and hold these young people accountable. 

"It’s a major concern. And it hurts," said Salvador Sauceda-Guzman, ANC Commissioner in Ward 5. "It hurts if anything because these kids shouldn’t be doing these things. We should be finding different routes for them to express themselves to handle the anger that a majority of the time this stems from. Poverty is a real deal here in D.C., we face it. I see it a lot in my community. I’m impacted by it. I try to do my best, but when it comes to our youth, we should find better ways to help them kind of navigate out of this."

"You don’t have anything that occupies their mind and their time," said Charles Lockett, a Ward 5 resident. "Majority of them know this is something I can get away with because I know the legal system."

The D.C. attorney general’s next listening session will be Tuesday, May 9 at the Mount Pleasant neighborhood library at 6:30 p.m.