Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–2301.02. Purpose.

The purpose of this subchapter is to create a juvenile justice system capable of dealing with the problem of juvenile delinquency, a system that will treat children as children in all phases of their involvement, while protecting the needs of communities and victims alike. In furtherance of this purpose, the following goals have been established for delinquency cases in the Family Court:

(1) To provide due process through which juveniles and all other interested parties are assured fair hearings, during which applicable constitutional and other legal rights are recognized and enforced;

(2) To promote youth development and prevent delinquency through early intervention, diversion, and community-based alternatives;

(3) To preserve and strengthen families whenever possible and to remove a child from the custody of the child’s parents, guardian, or other custodian only when it is determined by the appropriate authority to be in the child’s best interests or when necessary for the safety and protection of the public;

(4) To hold a child found to be delinquent accountable for his or her actions, taking into consideration the child’s age, education, mental and physical condition, background, and all other relevant factors;

(5) To place a premium on the rehabilitation of children with the goal of creating productive citizens and to recognize that rehabilitation of children is inextricably connected to the well-being and strength of their families;

(6) To serve children in their own neighborhood and communities whenever possible;

(7) To hold the government accountable for the provision of reasonable rehabilitative services;

(8) To provide for the safety of the public; and

(9) To achieve the foregoing goals in the least restrictive settings necessary, with a preference at all times for the preservation of the family and the integration of parental, guardian, or custodial accountability and participation in treatment and counseling programs.