Peter Nickles Likes the Caps Button
If past statements are any indication, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles is out of a job once the new mayoral regime takes power. He could also be in trouble with his profession, as Nickles is being investigated by the D.C. Bar in connection to a potential conflict of interest.
If the fact that he's been accused of having orchestrated the ouster of former juvenile justice honcho Marc Schindler, who was then replaced by Nickles' protege, Robert Hildum, isn't enough to convince you that Nickles may have been mucking around with the juvie system, you're in luck. Nickles apparently likes to write e-mails that explicitly confirm it, using all caps.
In an e-mail the A.G. sent out to members of Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration (provided to City Paper by a source), Nickles—far from refusing to get involved with discussions involving the youth justice system because of a potential conflict of interest—uses the Jerry M case that the D.C. Bar is investigating to bolster his cred.
Discussing "short term efforts to reduce YSC [Youth Services Center] population" in 2007, Nickles writes:
LET'S FIND SECURE BEDS ELSEWHERE-WE HAVE PUT OURSELVES INTO AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION-AS SOMEONE WHO KNOWS A LITTLE ABOUT THIS ISSUE HAVING BEEN LEAD JERRY M. COUNSEL I WOULD LIKE MY SUGGESTIONS CONSIDERED-THANKS
A tick later, in another all caps e-mail, Nickles digs himself deeper into the conversation, offering that the District's New Beginning's detention center needs to be expanded:
WE SHOULD ALSO EXAMINE THE POPULATION NUMBERS AT NEW BEGINNINGS AND HOW QUICKLY WE CAN GET ADDITIONAL SECURE BEDS. THE SOURCE OF THE PERSISTENT PROBLEM IS THAT WE HAVE TOO FEW BEDS AT NEW BEGINNINGS
In another e-mail in which he mentions "bad kids", Nickles frets over a 20 percent increase in youth violence:
YOU SHOULD SEE THE RAP SHEETS ON THESE KIDS. We are facing a persistent long term problem with YSC and we need to reexamine DYRS policy re putting kids into the community and then inadequate monitoring of those kids
If the conflict of interest questions are murky (can we really expect an AG not to get involved in juvenile justice issues?), the e-mails certainly provide a peek into how Nickles thinks about the city's wayward youth. Like many prosecutors, he seems to prefer incarceration to rehabilitation. If Fenty had won the primary, we would have likely eventually seen a Nicklesian change in the way the District deals with youth offenders. As it stands, we'll have to wait on all-but-guaranteed future mayor Vince Gray to make a move in order to see how things will shake out.