Over the weekend, we reported that prosecutors in Washington D.C. were expected to extend a proposed plea bargain agreement to the attorneys for two teenage girls charged with carjacking and felony murder in the brutal death of Mohammad Anwar, a Pakistani immigrant and Uber Eats driver. The Daily Mail is reporting that not only was a proposed plea bargain agreement extended, but that the girls plan to accept it:
On Monday, the teens reportedly reached the plea deal with prosecutors that would ensure they will not be held past the age of 21 nor be placed in a prison facility.
The judge set the next court date for April 20 to discuss the status of the case.
Police have not identified the juvenile suspects, one of whom is from the DC and the other is from neighboring Fort Washington, Maryland.
As maddening as that news is, it’s still not clear exactly what it means. We already knew that the girls were not going to be charged as adults (and that D.C.’s Acting Police Chief is very okay with that). As juveniles, the girls cannot be held past their 21st birthday anyway, and there are no “prison facilities” in D.C.’s Division of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). If the girls plead “involved” (the juvenile version of guilty) there will then be a disposition hearing. According to DYRS’ website, the procedure is as follows:
If a youth is found involved in a delinquent act, either through a plea or Court ruling, there is a hearing to determine the youth’s disposition. For the period between adjudication and disposition, the Court can place the youth on community release, in a shelter facility, or at YSC. At the dispositional hearing, the Court will determine whether the youth should be placed on probation with CSS or committed to DYRS custody. This decision is informed by a pre-disposition report prepared by CSS, which includes an assessment of the youth’s emotional, social, educational, and delinquency history and recommends a plan for treatment and disposition. If CSS plans to recommend the youth for commitment with DYRS, then DYRS will also submit a pre-disposition report that outlines the youth’s supervision and treatment needs.
If either girl is found to need treatment for mental health, substance abuse, or behavioral issues, or even more severe psychiatric or substance abuse problems, they would likely be committed to DYRS custody and placed in the appropriate facility. Otherwise, there are two DYRS facilities for the judge to choose from, New Beginnings and the Youth Services Center.
Here are the descriptions of those facilities from the DYRS website:
New Beginnings is a 60-bed secure residential treatment facility in Laurel, Maryland for young people involved with the most serious and chronic offenses. Youth at New Beginnings participate in the DC Model program, which provides long-term supervision, rehabilitation, and community reintegration planning. Some of the specific services at New Beginnings include screening and assessment, onsite medical and dental care, trauma-based behavioral health care, individual and group counseling, substance abuse counseling, education at the onsite Maya Angelou Academy, workforce and vocational training, structured recreational activities, and family visits and engagement programs.
Youth Services Center (YSC) is an 88-bed secure residential facility in northeast DC that provides youth with 24-hour supervision, custody, and care. Services include diagnostic screenings, onsite medical care, individual and group counseling, education provided by the DC Public Schools (DCPS), structured recreational activities, and family visits and engagement programs.
Mind-blowing. Now, as I said in my prior articles about the potential plea deal and the D.C. Police Chief’s response, we have to believe that everyone is capable of redemption and that even those who’ve committed the vilest acts can turn their lives around. Part of redemption is truly taking responsibility for one’s acts and some act of restitution or seeking forgiveness. In these descriptions, I see a lot of activities seemingly aimed at understanding the pain the kids are in, like “trauma-based behavioral health care,” and really nothing aimed at having the kids understand the pain they caused. If they’re going to be out in the community no later than age 21, then it’s a good thing they’re going to have all of these services — and I hope they really take advantage of them. But without some kind of component aimed at true redemption — including making restitution as much as they can, knowing they can’t bring the man back from the dead — I don’t see a long-term win for society here. Every morning they wake up and see the sunrise or every evening they see the sunset, every time they enjoy the smell of a rose or taste a home-cooked meal, they need to remember that they deprived Mohammad Anwar of all of that.