Mayor Bowser introduces UPLIFT Act to address youth safety and truancy in DC

Keeping young people in the District safe and out of trouble is a top priority for D.C. leaders.

Mayor Muriel Bowser's "Utilizing Partnerships, Local Interventions for Truancy and Safety (UPLIFT) Amendment Act of 2024" focuses on three major points: truancy, discipline in schools, and stronger accountability.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah says this bill is an all-hands-on-deck approach to solving the issue. 

"One of the things Mayor Bowser has talked about all year is accountability across our public safety and justice ecosystem," Appiah told FOX 5.

She says this includes the same people the city is trying to keep safe – juveniles.

"We are seeing an increase in young people who are involved in more serious crime and dangerous and violent gun crime in our city," Appiah added.

In 2023, there were 109 shootings involving young people, according to police data.

This year alone, juveniles make up almost 60% of carjacking arrests in the city.

In violent crimes, the mayor's UPLIFT bill will require parents to participate in mandatory group meetings and rehabilitative services with their children.

When asked if the city is considering charging parents, Appiah said, "No, we don’t have a consideration right now of criminalizing parents. This is about helping young people and keeping our city safe." 

In the city's push for stronger accountability, the mayor’s office also wants to limit diversion options and programs for juveniles involved in dangerous crimes armed with a gun, knife, or anything that looks like a firearm.

"We believe in diversion. We believe that it is important for certain young people," Appiah said. 


Mayor's office prepares sweeping reforms to tackle truancy crisis in DC schools

Reports indicate that 60% of high school students in D.C. are chronically absent, missing at least 10% of instructional days within a school year.

Youth are "ineligible for the adjustment process" in dangerous crimes. 

Attorney General Brian Schwalb’s Office oversees all juvenile crime cases in the District.

When FOX 5 asked about his office diverting cases, a spokesperson with the AG’s Ofice said, "Last year we diverted 15 cases of violent crime out of 751, or 2%."

They went on to say, "We just received the bill this morning and are reviewing it."

Appiah believes this bill is all about getting ahead of the problem and engaging families.

"What we want is to make sure that young people and their families end up with the right support and intervention," she said. "It’s important that the dose we are giving of cure fits."

The next step is for the bill is for D.C. Council to review it and take up a vote.

For more on the UPLIFT legislation click here: