Monday, November 14, 2005

Causing the Crime Wave?

As a matter of perspective, we are posting the following:

  • On April 5, 2005, Councilmember Fenty praised the Mayor's and City Council's appointment of Vincent Schiraldi as Director of the District's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. (You can read his comments and praises here).

  • Upon taking office, Mr. Schiraldi committed himself to reducing the population at the problem-riddled Oak Hill Youth Center from 257 to 86 youth by September 30, 2005. Schiraldi said that he would use "a little more honey and a little less vinegar." See the Washington Post coverage of Schiraldi here.

  • Slowly, but surely, less convicted juveniles were placed into custody of Oak Hill's detention center and more were left to the care of their families. Such was the case of Marcel Merritt.

  • On October 15, 2005, Police Chief Ramsey announced at a press conference that robberies were up 43 percent city-wide, and that juveniles might be responsible for the sizable increase. See this article.

Your thoughts? What actions (if any) should we as a community take?


Christopher Dyer said...

Crime prevention and public safety are important concerns for this neighborhood. This is an interesting theory that the spike in crime is in direct proportion to the release of prisoners from Oak Hill.

I am not exactly sure why these youth were released from Oak Hill but I imagine that there was severe overcrowding and I think that we should lobby aggressively for more funding to be added to the juvenile justice system to prevent future release of potential repeat offenders.

However, I think that incarceration alone isn’t a very effective solution to crime in our city. We need to go beyond simply locking people up and work to increase the number of well paying jobs and the education system so that youth have more opportunities and are taught at an early age that robbing people isn’t the most socially acceptable way to make a living.

The unemployment rate for young people in the District of Columbia is embarrassingly high and we need to pressure our civic leaders and business’s to provide more alternatives.

I am not sure how Adrian Fenty’s support of the new director in Oak Hill relates positively or negatively to the increase in crime in the neighborhood. From what I gathered in the article, the new director seems to have some good ideas on rehabilitation and has inherited a system that has been neglected for years.

Finally, while it is reassuring to think that the recent wave of crime might be waning as a result of good police work, we still live in a big city and I strongly encourage all of the residents of Logan to be more vigilant while moving around in the neighborhood and to join the new Logan Circle Crime committee to help us create positive and permanent solutions to the crime problem in DC.

Christopher Dyer
ANC Commissioner 2F03

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to determine if juvenile re-offenders who are in the custody of their parents are perpetrating many of the crimes in our neighborhoods. If that is true then maybe there is something to the argument that we need more facilities to house the offenders.

Our community could benefit greatly from a town hall meeting with the U.S. Attorney who is charged with protecting us and prosecuting these criminals. We need to understand if the lack of facilities is what is leading to decisions to leave juvenile offenders in the custody of their parents (who may or may not be positioned to provide adequate supervision).

Marc P. said...

Congratulations to the bloggers, because today you guys highlight a an idea that seemed well intentioned, but failed because it was too extreme. Logan Circle is living proof.

Our Mayor and our Council need to fess up to the failure and then tell us what they are going to do to fix it. The only thing that this policy has done is tax our police force and trouble our neighborhood.

Chris K said...

I agree with Commissioner Dyer and the others who have commented thus far.

Effective lobbying for the juvenile justice system, meetings with the U.S. Attorney's office, and holding our elected officials accountable for failing policies must be implemented.

What I would like to know is whatever happened to ankle bracelets and close monitoring? What about mandatory family counseling sessions? When do we start holding parents accountable for their children's actions?

Brent said...

Maybe its because we in DC tend to be more policywonkish, but my thoughts are that public policy suggestions and the usual whiny lamentations re: solving the underlying systemic causes(as if stemming national juvenile crime were the purview of our neighborhood) are useless.

So, my suggestion is: try some rudeness. Yell at people who seem suspicious, tell them to get out of your face, walk on the other side of the street, constantly call the cops, if you see anyone approaching someone else, step in and get involved. We all need to act like it's our home and not allow this to go on in front of us. Bit by bit, the criminals will stay away.

Anonymous said...

For the record, the U.S. Attorney does not prosecute juveniles, the D.C. Attorney General does. The U.S. Attorneys come to the community meetings (Andy Lopez), but you never see anyone from the D.C. Attorney General's office. They don't care. Officers tell us that when they try to get a case prosecuted against the juveniles, the Attorney General drops the charges. I doubt that they live in our community and that is probably why they don't care. If they did, then maybe they would take a hard stance against these young thugs.

jade said...

>>So, my suggestion is: try some rudeness. Yell at people who seem suspicious, tell them to get out of your face, walk on the other side of the street, constantly call the cops, if you see anyone approaching someone else, step in and get involved. We all need to act like it's our home and not allow this to go on in front of us. Bit by bit, the criminals will stay away.<<

I don't think this is being rude at all, and I think it's a good idea (maybe not the yelling - at least not for me as a woman).
The other thing I would recommend is to not give money/food to some of the 'regulars'. Give them the address of a shelter or kitchen instead.
I, for one, have no problems telling people that my pit bull-looking dog is unfriendly and will bite if they approach me.
I know people have had issues with 311, but I think it's still a good resource. And the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?
Speaking of squeaky wheels - I'm disappointed to hear about the situation with the DC Atty's office. What sorts of actions have we as a community taken (sending letters, etc)? What actions can we take to apply some pressure? We've got a strong voice (numbers-wise AND financially), we need to use it.

eric said...

Who the heck is the DC Attorney General then and why isn't he/she more responsive.

This is who our ANC commissioners, city council members and the mayor should be pressuring for answers! And the person to whom we should be sending emails and letters and calling.

M Junk said...

In response to Eric's question posted here, I just did a quick search of the internet and confirmed that the DC Office of the Attorney General ("OAG") is responsible for juvenile prosecutions. The "Public Safety" division has a section devoted to juvenile crime. Within the public safety division is Elizabeth Wingo (Chief, Criminal), Laura Dailey (Chief, Juvenile), and Angela Harvey (Chief, Neighborhood and Victim Services). We should press them for answers to the questions raised by DC's own police officers. It's outrageous if juveniles escape punishment due solely to the OAG's failure to prosecute.