DC Superior Court is taking occupancy of the old Post Office (4211 9th Street NW) for a new youth probation and pre-adjudication center, called the Northwest Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Drop-In Center. While there has not yet been any community outreach by the Courts about the NW BARJ, Petworth News was able to get more information on what to expect from the center, and how the community can support it.
The facility itself will support up to 125 young men from around Northwest DC reporting for weekly, biweekly or monthly visits, with approximately 30 to 40 youth attending daily. The Courts said that while they routinely work in collaboration with probation and parole supervision agencies in DC, Maryland and Virginia, they only work with youth who have an open juvenile case under the Family Court as well as an open adult case before the Criminal Court.
While adolescent males will be the primary attendees, according to the Courts, “There may be occasions in which a subset of females residing in the NW quadrant attend the NW BARJ. These occasions would typically occur during Winter or Spring break, suspension alternative programming for youth suspended between five and fifteen days from school and possibly on rare occasions in the summer.”
The Superior Court’s Family Court Social Services Division (CSSD) will manage the facility, with the two supervisory probation officers (SPOs) responsible for the unit managing day-to-day operations and serving as points of the contact for the community (they have as yet not been announced). The SPOs ensure programming, utilities and service resources remain in keeping with standards set by the CSSD. Security is managed by Court Security Officers, who come under the egis of the Chief Security Officer for the District of Columbia Courts in tandem with the United States Marshall Service.
The center will have ten juvenile probation officers along with two supervisors and two support staff on-site, along with at least one court security officer. Those 15 people will need a place to park on an already crowded Upshur and 9th Street, and DC Courts says they are working to “secure parking spaces in a nearby parking garage.”
According to the Courts, “One of the signature provisions of the Balanced and Restorative Justice - BARJ Drop-In Centers is the welcome presence of local law enforcement (specifically, MPD). MPD Officers frequently visit BARJ Centers during their community tours and beat walks. The presence of the MPD at BARJ Centers enables our youth to further develop positive relationships with law enforcement officers, raise issues regarding the safety of the individual youth, and also provide confidential information regarding crime that can lead to solving criminal cases.”
The facility’s opening date is still up in the air, as it depends upon completion of the interior build-out. Once the staff move in the facility it will take four to six months to train the staff who be operating the NW BARJ, so opening of the facility is likely at least six months away.
The Courts said that once the facility is open, they do accept volunteers from the local community, as well as noting that student intern positions may be available (volunteers must complete an online application and background check).
According to the Courts, they are working with Councilmember Brandon Todd’s office to schedule a meeting with supervisors and staff, and are willing to provide a walk-through of the facility once the interior is complete.
Will publish details on a meeting when I hear more.