Friday, November 4, 2011
Clean up our streets, Put the juveniles that break the law behind bars!
October 1, 2010
Councilmembers Alexander and Cheh and Bowser,
In response to some of you asking what I felt should/could be done to help our system deal with criminal behavior in and around guns, homicide, and drugs. Effectively I have met with the Chief Judge from two Courts, of the D.C. Superior Court, the former Presiding Judge in the Juvenile and Neglect Branch of D.C. Superior Court, the U.S. Attorney, a supervisor /member of the District Attorney’s Office that over sees Juvenile Case work.
Along with research of three various cities of approximate size with similar former problems like the District currently is experiencing.
I have prepared the following. It is comprised of both research from various cities that have experienced a decline in crimes associated with guns, homicide and drugs, and some opinions based on lengthy conversations with various entities of police, judicial and prosecutorial involvement.
First, the overwhelming statement that I get from everyone involved is:
TIGHTEN THE LAWS, Especially the juvenile laws.
Changes are desperately needed in Juvenile Court. Prosecutors are not permitted to discuss the likelihood that case exists, let along any detail of the case. Names of the accused are kept secret, and proceedings are conducted in locked courtrooms. Example: Until recently, a rape victim was not allowed to know that the accused lived in the same apartment building as she did. Recently a change was put into effect that would allow prosecutors to now notify the victim that the accused lives and for them to be identified. Juvenile Court and the proceedings should be open to the public. This serves as an enabler.
Secondly, the judge should be able to instruct the juvenile what the sentencing guidelines are if there were tried as an adult. The law should mandate that juvenile records would be sealed, and become useless when the accused turns 18 if they stay out of trouble. If they are re-arrested, that seal is broken and those charges will be brought forward as evidence and used in sentencing. Leaving the judge, that possibility of a stricter sentence based on the prior arrest records, and the severity of crimes. Felony crimes involving guns, drugs, or any type of gang involvement would carry over into the adult files if the defendant had not gone arrest free for the last two years of their juvenile status: 16-18 years of age. All of it can go away if the juvenile stays out of trouble.
In addition, the use of a firearm in a Felony I homicide, committed by juvenile the age of 15 or higher automatically is persecuted in D.C. Superior Court, as an adult. This has be a change in the law from council to become effective. If law, the court would have to adhere to the guidelines. Secondly, the minimum sentencing guidelines for felony I Homicide with a gun should be increased to a minimum of 25 years. The maximum should then be extended to 60 years. The 25 year minimum would serve as a deterrent combined with the new power to prosecute persons 15 and older as adults. The maximum guidelines would help in literally get hardened criminals off our streets. If an accused is found guilty of both a felony I homicide conviction with a gun, and found to be a participant in a gang or crew the sentencing guidelines would change to 35 year minimum, with a maximum of up to life behind bar. Anyone accused as an adult, of multiple Felony I Homicides would automatically move into the allowed maximum sentencing guidelines.
One city in particular, Richmond Virginia, changed laws and strengthened their sentencing guidelines through the United States Attorney’s Office. Authorities say the decade-and-a-half effort has paid off. But according to recent figures from the (1)U.S. Sentencing Commission and other studies, it has also left the Richmond area as a national leader in both federal crack cocaine and firearm prosecutions that lead to long prison sentences.
The average sentence for crack violators was just under 11 years; 18 of them were sentenced to more than 20 years and one to life.
City prosecutors (2) last year won state convictions for felony drug distribution or possession with intent to distribute against almost 400 people -- a 10-year high. The sentences added up to 850 years.
"Among the weapons brought to bear against Richmond's record wave of violence in the 1990s were stiff federal laws targeting drug dealers and firearms violators. The bloodshed has subsided since 1994, when the city had 161 slayings and the highest per-capita homicide rate in the country. Last year's toll of 39 did not even lead the state."
Where are the guns coming from that are used in crimes in DC?
Study finds Virginia Guns Often Used in Out of State Crimes.
The link below offers astounding information that highly supports the theory that we have to find out where these guns are coming from.
Getting guns off our streets before they are used is instrumental in achieving a reduced homicide rate as well as other felony gun crimes. Repeat offenders are often caught with guns and drugs supplement this. The two most often run together.The District Of Columbia needs an extensive public outreach and media campaign to educate citizens about lengthy Federal prison sentences for gun crimes and to maximize deterrence also is a critical component of Project Exile. The Project Exile Citizen Support Foundation was formed in July 1997 in Richmond VA, and has been highly acclaimed for it’s effectiveness.
The District needs a Project Exile Citizen Support Foundation to be formed to study, and to monitor the results of what I propose.
In addition legislation, should be introduced / passed to tie the buyer of any firearm used in a Felony I Homicide to the crime, with stiff sentencing put in place to prosecute those buyers that then allow a firearm, rather purchased legally or illegally to the crime and the end user. This sentence should be a minimum of 10 years for accessory to murder. This would serve as a deterrent, and although hard to prove in many cases there would be positive results in some.
Finally I suggest that you look at the information that the link below offers. It is a Statistical Informational Packet of the DC Circuit for year 2009. It is published by the United States Sentencing Commission.
I find it telling when caparisons are done on the amount of cases prosecuted.
(1) Known to be a group consisting of liberal attorney’s.
(2) From a report dated 2009 so results would reflect numbers from 2008 respectfully.
Resident Ward 4
Posted by Ward 4 at 12:15 PM