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7News On Your Side goes 1-on-1 with AG Racine after weekend of violence in the District

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 7/23/2021 Justin Hinton
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With the shooting death of 6-year-old Naiya Courtney and the shooting outside of Nationals Park fresh on many people’s minds, 7News On Your Side spoke one-on-one with District Attorney Karl Racine about the violence the city is facing.

“My heart goes out to the families impacted, the parents, the brothers, the sisters, the siblings, the neighbors, the individuals who were at Nats Stadium and who suffered from immediate fear and trauma as to what was going on, but we have to recognize that in communities in the District of Columbia, those gunshots happen every day. Sometimes happen every hour and so young people are being raised in community violence where oftentimes they’re in trauma and they’re going untreated,” he said.

That’s why he believes city leaders, including his office, have a role to play in making sure families are taken care of with positive influences for their kids, something that will help them to make more lawful decisions as they get older.

RELATED | 'It's on us': Community gathers to remember Nyiah Courtney, calls for end to gun violence

It’s also why he believes when kids commit crimes, they should be treated like kids and go through the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, rather than the adult system, even if they get into more trouble while under the care of DYRS.

He says even at 16 or 17, their brains are still under construction.

“Under the current law and under my proposal, kids will be treated as kids until after their 21st year, and so there is not a current process nor in my proposal a process that would allow punishment as a child and then transfer over to the adult system,” he said.

“So what happens after 21, if they’re not fully rehabilitated?” 7News Report Justin Hinton asked.

“That’s the million-dollar question, and the onus is on all of us in District government to do everything we can to provide all of the services that we can to rehabilitate someone, especially a child,” he answered.

SEE ALSO | DC Police introduce yet another crime-fighting initiative: Officers on bikes and scooters

By law, he is unable to discuss any cases involving juveniles. He also pointed to getting ghost guns off of the streets to curb violence.

One program his office has established outside of the court system is “Cure the Streets.” It’s now in its second year, but he says the violence interruption program needs more funding.

Caption: District Attorney Karl Racine explains to 7News's Justin Hinton why children should be held to a different standard than adults.{{ }}

“I would like the city to go big and invest more in “Cure the Streets” and violence prevention.

"There are neighborhoods literally who call our office every day begging for a “Cure the Streets” site in their jurisdiction or their geographic region, and I think it’s high time council do just that,” he said.

Read Racine's full statement on combating gun violence and crime in D.C. here.

In addition, Nyiah's family says they have set up a CashApp for those who would like to donate. Nyiah's grandmother, Andrea, asks that any donations be made using CashApp to $andreacourtney. They say this is the only legitimate donation source the family has created.

Caption: District Attorney Karl Racine explains to 7News' Justin Hinton how his office decides to charge juveniles.{{ }}

Caption: District Attorney Karl Racine explains whether he thinks juveniles can be fully rehabilitated.{{ }}

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