WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Nearly 400 juveniles were arrested for violent crime in 2022. 16 kids were shot and killed.

“We have a challenge in our city, a lot of challenges, and one involves the fact that too many young people in our city are involved either as victims of violence or offenders of violence,” said D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb.

Schwalb moderated a town hall meeting Wednesday, which focused on the juvenile justice system. The event was sponsored by the Washington Bar Association.

According to Schwalb, his office has two goals when it comes to prosecuting juveniles: to keep the community safe and to rehabilitate the child.

“These young people are not going to be locked up forever. So we have to do whatever we can to help make sure whatever we do with these young people we try and help them to make better decisions in the future,” said Seema Gajwani, Special Counsel for Juvenile Justice Reform in the AG’s Office.

According to Gajwani, the longer a child is in the system, the worse their outcome tends to be.

“Outcomes tend to be worse the further they penetrate into the juvenile justice system,” she said. “If they go through the justice system, they are less likely to stay in school. Long term, juveniles that penetrate the justice system are less likely to get a job, to even get married.”

Gajwani said that’s why accountability for children who commit crimes often focuses around getting them needed services.