Loose Lips

Robert Hildum Out (Again) At DYRS; Agency Gets New Interim Director

Robert Hildum is out again as DYRS' Interim Director. Hildum had announced his resignation last week. Almost Mayor Vincent Gray then asked him to stay on–apparently after Hildum had boxed up his stuff. Now, a few days later, Hildum is out again.

Today, Neil Stanley, DYRS' general counsel since 2008, has been brought in as DYRS' Interim Director. It's third such director in the past year. Stanley is considered a moderating force, according to a source familiar with his work. He's committed to the progressive legacy left from Vinny Schiraldi's tenure and yet is sensitive to law enforcement issues.

Memo after the jump.

Here's the announcement:

"TO: All DYRS Managers

FROM: Christopher Shorter, Chief of Staff

SUBJECT: Neil Stanley Appointed Interim Director for DYRS

I am pleased to announce that Neil Stanley has been appointed Interim Director for the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. As you all know, Neil has served as DYRS General Counsel since 2008 and came to the agency with a strong blend of public management and juvenile justice experience.

Prior to DYRS, Neil held executive-level positions within the District of Columbia Government; including, Chief of Staff with the Department of the Environment, Deputy Director with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and Interim Director with the Department of Parks and Recreation. Additionally, while working as a Public Welfare Foundation program officer, Neil facilitated over $12 million in grant-making to non-profit organizations focusing on criminal justice and disadvantaged youth programs. Neil also worked as a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund’s Black Community Crusade for Children where he managed the Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ Leadership Council, oversaw judicial projects involving minority youth, coordinated research on issues related to the disproportionate representation of children of color in juvenile justice systems, and designed community-based prevention and early intervention models.

Neil earned a Masters in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University Law Center, a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida, and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Wake Forest University."

Hildum became interim director in late July. He was not well liked by juvenile-justice advocates. First thing this morning, DC Lawyers For Youth wrote Almost Mayor Vincent Gray urging him to drop Hildum. "I think thought he was a prosecutor and that's the lens that he brought to DYRS. You saw that in the increase in revocations and increase use of isolation–that's a punishment-first model," says R. Daniel Okonkwo, executive director of DC Lawyers for Youth, who adds that he felt Hildum had set the agency back.

The agency never really moved forward on the reform efforts. Under Hildum, the agency was mired in an internal debate. "I think the rifts between the staff that liked to be correctional officers and the ones that wanted progressive reforms widened," says Okonkwo. "(Hildum) was never a champion of the agency reform."

It's now Stanley's job to repair those rifts.

  • Observer

    "He's committed to the progressive legacy left from Vinny Schiraldi's tenure and yet is sensitive to law enforcement issues". I honestly hope that is not the case, because if it is we are in trouble. And who is this Okonkwo? He is misinformed and misguided.

  • LAC

    Stanley needs to clean house and get the criminals off staff positions if progress is ever going to take place at DYRS. Criminals counseling criminals is a bad idea.

    NYC has a model that works: Mark Goldsmith and professionals who inspire youth to improve their lives have created a model for addressing juvenile youth recidivism — http://www.gosonyc.org.

    Criminals canonized as counselors don't give the poor kids anything to hope for to work hard and change their situations.

  • Oh Lord…

    This is a disaster...more so than what it was before. I had to deal with Stanley when he and Drew Becher were the co-directors at DPR and of the 9 DPR directors I've had to deal with in 10 years those two were the WORST!

    Heaven help the children and the residents of D.C.

  • Isn’t It Obvious

    Stanley was HORRIBLE at DCRA! Almost EVERYONE despised him! I don't care what his resume says, he may look great on paper, in action, he sucks!

  • larry

    Is okonkwo the only individual who has an opinion that matters? It looks that way - he manages to get himself quoted in the press and is ALWAYS one of the witnesses the dc council and tommy wells have to testify at every damn dyrs hearing addressing the same tragic failures for years now. How about the kids in the community who are scared because they repeatedly see their most violent peers continue to be in the community with no real consequences? Ask them. Or, try giving a voice to advocates for public safety, victims or surviving family members and friends of all the dead over the past several years. Please mr. okonkwo - advocate for my friend's beautiful daughter who was murdered in March and would have turned 17 today, December 23rd. No system is perfect but this is a joke and it is negligent. I would give anything to see just one of the decision makers and expert witnesses acknowledge the dead or ever present a balanced opinion.

  • Heat

    This is not good news. I love how this is announced the week of Christmas....DC is a ghost town right now. I hope City Paper will run this story again when everyone gets back in town from the holidays.

    The CBRF or Community Based Rehabilitation Facility model is a miserable failure. How many murders have occured this year by these juveniles? There is no security at these facilities, which are placed in residential neighborhoods. I agree with LAC, we don't need criminals teaching criminals.

    I also agree that non violent offenders need second chances. But they are putting 18yo's with 10 year records (Alonte Saunders, Sanquan Carter)in a minimal security CBRF where they can essentially walk out and kill someone. If the MPD is notified, they can't do anything until 24 hours have passed. They will either return within the 24 hrs with no punishment or go steal a puppy, or kill someone, or steal a car etc etc.

    CBRF's are really a way for these 'Program' directors to scam money off the city and not actually 'rehabilitate' the juveniles. There are no checks and balances, no audits, no accountability for the millions that these places get with a contract with DYRS.

    They really don't seem concerned with public safety at all. They are really more concerned that the juveniles are comfortable. All paid for by tax money

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