Friday, May 7, 2010

Betts Suspects at Peacoholics Retreat 5 Days Before Murder

Peacoholics are the talk of the town again, linking up several recent issues on this blog -- the murder of Shaw SMS Principal Brian Betts, the urgent need for comprehensive reform of the District's juvenile justice system, and the millions in city dollars given to Peacoholics on a no-bid basis without any demonstrated results or accountability. 

The latest piece - the three at-large suspects in Betts' murder had attended a youth retreat in suburban Maryland sponsored by the Peacoholics just 5 days before the murder.  From the Washington Post:

All attended at least part of a retreat in Southern Maryland last month sponsored by Peaceoholics, a District-based nonprofit that works with at-risk youths.

Ronald Moten, the group's cofounder, said that all three arrived April 10 and participated in group discussions about violence.

Moten said that they seemed nice and that he was particularly impressed with Lancaster. "He voluntarily cleaned the whole compound," Moten said.

The three left that night. After the retreat, two of them attended a follow-up session. "We haven't seen them since," Moten said. Five days after the retreat, Betts was dead.
[UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: And now this from Loose Lips:
Police Union Chief Kristopher Baumann e-mailed LL to say that Moten's group is actually being paid by the District to find absconders and bring them back to DYRS. Moten testified on the subject at a hearing last year. Baumann writes:

"On June 10, 2009, Well’s committee held a hearing on DYRS. It was unbelievable. (I know watching old hearings can be a drag, but it is worth it.) Testifying in support of Schiraldi and DYRS were several non-profit groups (Peaceaholics, Concerned Men, etc) that testified that they were receiving “grants” from DYRS to go track down absconders and talk them in to returning to DYRS. Of course, they had no statistics (e.g., number of absconders returned, etc.) but that was what DYRS was paying them to do (they also apparently have office space at DYRS). These are essentially earmarks, but are being done by the Executive so they are called grants, with no oversight, no reports required. Worse they are giving money to groups to do the work the police should be doing (the word on the street is that DYRS did not want the MPD knowing how many absconders existed because it might be leaked and would not match the numbers they have been reporting)."]

According to the Washington CityPaper, Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten denies allegations that his nonprofit group harbored three suspects. 

Shaw residents posted their reactions on a neighborhood listserve:
"I don't know why [DYRS] can't lock some GPS anklets on them; not doing so is like granting them a leave of absence to go out and commit violence after they finish their training with DRYS coaches. Twenty-eight young former offenders [representing the 7% of the 400 youth under DYRS supervision that are typically absconders] can probably execute all the violent crime in the City for one week."
"Can we get your commitment that you will look into this "most serious" accusation? I know both of you have been supporters of the peaceaholics in the past but have begun to see some of the same issues that many in the community see with this group. I will admit that Mr. Moten was a most impressive salesman the last time I saw him but this is a serious problem!  I am all for trying to get kids into programs that get them off the streets and into jobs but this is one in a long list of problems with this group." (Email to Councilmembers Evans and Graham)
"We now have numerous deaths in our city, [a] SE shooting where 4 died, and up to 10 were injured, a recent robbery and shooting death of a beloved teacher/ principal, and yesterday a shooting on a metro bus. All by juveniles that had a long list of offenses and by standard in nearly every other city in America they would have been behind bars. Yet in our city, they are running lose on our streets, endangering the lives of countless citizens, youth, visitors and anyone that might by change cross their path.  When will we see a responsible elected body of councilmembers, and a mayor that steps up and does something? When will the excuses stop and action begin to replace the do-nothing approach of the current madness?"

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