Washington, D.C. Councilmember David Catania March 30 introduced the South Capitol Street Tragedy Memorial Act of 2011.

The law would use mental health screening and better enforcement of truancy in an effort to curb crimes among D.C. youth, Catania said.

The proposed legislation was unveiled on the first anniversary of a shooting that left four teenagers dead. Several of the accused killers were wards of the city’s juvenile justice agency at the time of the shootings, according to The Washington Examiner.

Nardyne Jefferies, whose 16-year-old daughter Brishell Jones was killed in the shooting, said she lobbied D.C. council members for an appropriate response to the shooting.

“Persistence definitely played a big factor as well as speaking with intelligence,” she said. “Just being consistent makes them accountable.”

The proposed bill includes provisions for comprehensive mental health screening system for youth and will “ensure real enforcement of existing truancy laws,” Catania said.

At the heart of the legislation are programs to make sure children with behavioral needs receive the appropriate treatment. But Catania said it remains unclear whether defendants in the Jefferies case had behavioral problems.

Catania said he wants the bill to target youth behavioral health epidemiology, early childhood behavioral health services, school-based behavioral health services, truancy prevention, family resources and behavioral health infrastructure.

Catania claimed the financial impact of the proposed legislation would be low.

Jefferies said that in honor of her daughter’s murder, along with other family members of slain children, her bike club will host a Memorial Bike Ride Rally May 21 at the Sylvan Theater.

For more information about the act, go to southcapitolact.com.

Erica Butler

AFRO Staff Writer