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As he thinks about what has shaped his views on public policy related to children, one incident stands out: the South Capitol Street shootings.
The tragedy made a lasting impact on Mendelson – as it did on many families living in DC at the time. The shooters and victims were all very young, mostly teenagers. He learned that two of the young perpetrators were brothers with a long criminal history.
"I thought at the time: what is going on that two kids, two brothers are out there shooting people? Clearly something was going on in that home. We should have intervened long before, we should have been knocking on their door," he says.
"It got me thinking."
Mendelson’s search for solutions led him to believe in intervening earlier in a child’s life. As leader of the Council’s Judiciary Committee, he focused on preventing the school-to-prison pipeline by identifying children who were chronically truant and intervening before problems grew.