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Combating crime in the District of Columbia : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, June 22, 1995 online

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ball hitter." That's pretty complimentary language, and I must echo
that. I, too, have heard similar glowing reports about you as well.

Mr. Brazil, you, too, are well known up here, each of you, for that
matter. But I think I'm correct, Mr. Brazil, in recalling that you
are an avid supporter of the mandatory minimums; is that not cor-

Mr. Brazil. That's correct, for most offenses

Mr. Coble. For the most part? Well, recently, the District re-
pealed those laws, and I think you opposed those repeals. Talk to
us a little bit about that, if you will, as to why you opposed the

Mr. Brazil. Well, I guess a number of reasons, and I think that
particular piece of legislation you're referring to dealt with drug
dealers, primarily just drug dealers, and they eliminated manda-
tory minimums for drug dealers. I mean, it would seem that the
debate should stop there. That is so ridiculous.

Mr. Coble. Well, it seems to me that that removes leverage. Is
that — was that one of your problems?

Mr. Brazil. Well, it does because^ mean, I think for all the

Mr. Coble. Yes.

Mr. Brazil [continuing]. But particularly these drugs that are
overloading the system. If you can't drive some pleas, you're in big
trouble, and Judge Walton might be able to assist me on this, but
what I have heard is that these folks plead quite a lot when they're
looking at some certain and significant time. So it does drive pleas.

But the other thing is, if you're selling some of this death to peo-
ple, you ought to be punished

Mr. Coble. Yes.

Mr. Brazil [continuing]. And at least have the certainty of what-
ever the minimum is.

Mr. Coble. Well, my question was rhetorical. I figured that was
your reason, and I don't disagree with you.

Folks, we're on a short list because of the time, but. Judge, let
me put this to you real quickly. In your testimony you — thank you,
Mr. Brazil, by the way.

Mr. Brazil. Thank you.

Mr. Coble. You indicated, Judge, that you believe that the time
has come to reevaluate what offenders and what type of cases are
appropriate for juvenile prosecution. Elaborate briefly for me, if you

Judge Walton. Well, the juvenile justice system, as I'm sure you
well know, was created with a different type of offender and a dif-
ferent type of offense in mind than what we're dealing with now,
and I think we, as a country, need to be compassionate. I think we


need to appreciate that young people can make mistakes, and I
think we should have a process in place that tries to help certain
children who have become involved in criminal activity. But I do
think that there are certain crimes that are just so outrageous and
so adverse to an orderly society that individuals who commit those
crimes, at least at a certain age, should be prosecuted as adults.

I've had many situations where people have said to me: the sys-
tem isn't fair; it doesn't care about the victims of crime when it
says that somebody can not just in a fight hit somebody and they
fall and they hit their head and they die as a result of that. That's,
obviously, the type of situation where I would think a young person
should be prosecuted as a juvenile. But if you take someone who
plans a murders, decides that they're going to take a life in a very
vicious, cruel way, it seems to me that under those circumstances
that person should face very certain and stiff punishment. Other-
wise, what you say to the citizenry is that we care more about the
offender than we care about you as a good taxpayer. And, as a re-
sult of that — and I know; I've heard a lot of people say — they have
left our city; they have decided that they're giving up on it because
they feel that there has been too much concern shown for individ-
uals who commit crime as compared to those who are the victims
of crime, and that's not to say that we shouldn't be compassionate;
we should be, but I do think that the system has to be fair to the
victims, too.

Mr. Coble. I don't disagree. I

Mr. Heineman. The gentleman's time has expired.

Mr. Coble. I thank the chairman, and I thank the gentleman for
being with us.

Mr. Heineman. Ms. Norton.

Ms. Norton. Mr. Heineman, I realize there's a vote on. I just
want to thank these witnesses who have been victimized by our
schedule [laughter] and who, I can attest, work very, very hard for
the District of Columbia, especially on these issues.

Judge Walton, of course, both before he came to the bench and
since, and these two members give unfailing service to the District,
I just want them to know that some of what you said in your guide-
lines, in your testimony, is work that can be done here. For exam-
ple, you've mentioned coordination, which was mentioned also in a
prior panel. I'm going to seek change in the guidelines to facilitate
coordination between Federal police and our own police. I learned
only today that there was that problem.

The matching fund problem, Mr. Chavous, we have already been
working on is on highway funds while the District is down and in-
solvent. It seems to me that is one way in which we can spread
that from highways to other things.

The National Guard, I'm surprised that that has gone down some
and that that is — also from a previous panel — that is not nearly as
important for us as it once was, and I don't see any reason why
that can't happen. We'll work on that.

Finally, let me just ask you to work on something, and that is
civilianization. I know you nave been trying to. With the cops leav-
ing, for God's sake, don't put more cops in the station houses; get
them out on the streets. I know you all are not the executive, but
to the extent that you all can keep doing what you're doing and


pressing that, I think we multiply those cops that Mr. Brazil is not
sure make the difference. Certainly, as long as they're there, we'd
like them on the street instead of in the station houses.

And I thank you all not only for your very excellent testimony
but for the loss of productivity to you. I want to ensure you that
it's increased our productivity. [Laughter.]

Mr. Heineman. Let me close the hearing at this point while rec-
ognizing Mr. Scott and leaving the record open for questions by Mr.
Scott to the panel, so that an old folk can make it over to the floor
in 7 minutes.

I do want to thank the panel, and especially the Chief, for being
so patient and attentive, and certainly the people that sat here to
hear the testimony of the panel.

And at this time I'm going to close the hearing.

Mr. Scott. Did you say that I was going to get to ask questions?

Mr. Heineman. Yes.

Mr. Scott. OK, thank you.

I just wanted to make a comment about the incarceration rate
in Washington, DC, the question of whether we're tough on crime
or not. The international average of locking people up is about 100
per 100,000. Japan is 36; Mexico and Canada are around 100; we
are in the United States at 500 per 100,000. There's no country in
the world over 600 per 100,000 and we're at 2,000 per 100,000 in
Washington, DC, about 20 times the international average already.

We heard testimony earlier today that increasing incarceration
was so expensive as to be just totally unproductive for doing any-
thing, and the issue of abolishing parole or truth in sentencing is
one of the suggestions that's often made, and people tell the
halftruth about truth in sentencing; that is, that people can't be let
out early, but the whole truth is you can't hold people longer, ei-
ther. Everybody gets an average sentence. Charles Manson gets the
same thing that somebody that has been rehabilitated, has a job,
a family, and everything else, very low risk.

We abolished parole in Virginia with a program that has the ef-
fect of reducing the sentence 50 percent for those that would have
served their full time. The low-risk prisoner will serve three times
more. To pull this little bit off, we spent so much money that we
could have spent — we could have built a brandnew, $1 million boys
and girls club in every precinct in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Our precincts are 1,500 to 3,000 voters. Every precinct could have
gotten a million dollar boys and girls club, a family resource center.
With the money left over, we could have guaranteed summer jobs
for every young person in the State, guaranteed college scholar-
ships for every young person that can get into college, can go; dou-
ble Head Start; double job training under the Job Training Part-
nership Act, and hire 200 additional police officers in every con-
gressional district in the State, and with the money left over, run
a housing program that would have eliminated every housing code
violation in the State within 10 years, eliminating unemployment
in the building trades.

The reason I make that, Mr. Chavous, you indicated that you
have to kind of do both. Well, you can't do both. If you're going to
abolish parole, you have eliminated your ability to fund the pro-
grams that will provide, as Judge Walton said - deal with the fact



that they don't have the basics, and those are the kinds of basics.
And when you spend all your money chasing something that obvi-
ously won't work — we went through some arithmetic earlier in
Washington, DC. A 20-percent increase in incarceration, which will
do zero for crime, 5-year sentence to a 6-year sentence, will cost
you $60 million. Now go through a $60 million budget. That's with
nothing. If you want to do something about crime using incarcer-
ation, you'd have to have 40 or 50 or 60 or 100 percent increase
in incarceration to get somebody's attention. You can't get there
from here.

Mr. Chavous. Yes. You know, I agree with you. And that's why
early on I said that, while there's — when you promote a discussion
about crime, the tendency is to have a discussion about the back
end instead of the front.

And I just don't think — I don't agree with abolishing parole.

Mr. Scott. OK. Well, I just made the point that when you've al-
ready done more than can possibly do any good on incarceration,
adding more to it is just wasting the taxpayers' money and at the
same time absorbing money that could have gone toward those ba-

If you — I don't know if I can make this next vote. It's the pending
question. So if I miss that, that's no big deal. If they can't get to
the next question without my vote, shame on them. [Laughter.]

Do you have a comment, a response quickly?

Mr. Chavous. Yes. I agree. You know, I started out talking about
the preventive end because I think that if we can deal with some
of the social services conditions that lead to crime, then that, along
with having a stronger police presence, can make a big difference.
A stronger police presence doesn't necessarily mean that we are
going to triple our arrest rate, because we had Operation Clean
Sweep here 7 or 8 years ago where we arrested thousands and
thousands of people, and crack still devastated communities.

So I firmly agree that the focus has to be intervening with these
dysfunctional families, these dysfunctional home settings, at an
early enough age where we can extract some of the young people
who are involved, who are being victimized, and then move forward
in a way that would demonstrably make a difference.

I think you're absolutely right; if I had my druthers, I would like
to see a lot more resources in these areas.

Mr. Scott. I forgot that the reason Eleanor isn't running is be-
cause we stripped D.C. of its vote, which I think was unconscion-
able. So all the comments and the response, I'll find out from Elea-
nor what the response was.

Judge Walton. I did have a response because I think it's a little
simplistic to say that locking everybody up doesn't work. Obviously,
we know that. And I think it's also simplistic to say, well, if we put
more money on the front end, that that's going to solve the prob-
lem, too, because I truly believe that, unless we as a society start
to do something on cutting down on the incidence of people having
children who can't or won't care for them, that we're never going
to have the amount of money necessary on the front end to deal
with the social problems that these kids come into the world with.
I mean, the reality is that we're talking about children who were
damaged, many or them, from the inception because of crack being


placed in their bodies, and, unfortunately, in reference to many of
them, there's not a whole lot to work with, and many of the chil-
dren, by the time they are going to come into the social services
system, the needs are so great that as a society we're never going
to have the resources to deal with these children. Many of these
children need to be in therapeutic settings where it takes maybe
$25 or $30, $40, $50 thousand for one child per year to deal with
the problem that that child may have. So I don't know how you
deal with that. I mean, how do you legislate morality? How do you
stop people from inappropriately producing children? That's very
difficult. It's very difficult, I think, to confront.

But with the number of children I see now coming into the proc-
ess who have been abused and neglected and have severe emo-
tional problems, physical problems, and otherwise, unless we do
something to impact on those numbers, I don't think we're ever
going to have enough money on the front end to really have a
meaningful impact.

Ms. Norton. I thank you. Technically, the hearing has been over
since Mr. Heineman left the room, since he's the last majority
member to have been here. It says something about the enthu-
siasm and commitment of these District officials that they have re-
mained to talk — what is it — ultra viries.

Thank you very much. We appreciate your being here.

The hearing is adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 4:52 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned.]


Appendix 1. — Statement of William P. Lightfoot,


Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony today on
"Combatting Crime in the District of Columbia." As the Chair of
the Committee on the Judiciary for the Council of the District of
Columbia, I have a great interest in and responsibility for crime
related issues concerning the District of Columbia. The
Committee which I chair has oversight of public safety agencies
including the Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of
Corrections, and the Courts. I will comment on the
accomplishments and objectives of certain District government
public safety agencies.

The Metropolitan Police Department has accomplished a great
deal while having to absorb major budget cuts this past year.
The Department has seen a reduction in homicides of seventeen
percent (17%) and a reduction in serious assaults of seven
percent (7%). Such reductions can be directly attributed to the
Department redeploying personnel and equipment to high crime
areas to secure the apprehension, conviction, and incarceration
of career criminals. Chief Thomas, deputy chiefs of the



Department, and every district commander that I have met with has
assured me that career criminals are responsible for the majority
of crimes committed; career criminals must be our focus.

In 1994, Part I crimes (homicides, rapes, robberies,
aggravated assaults, burglaries, larceny, and car thefts)
decreased by seven percent (7%) . But crime in the District of
Columbia for 1995 is up nine percent (9%) so far over the same
period last year. This increase occurred because of a major
escalation in robberies and car thefts.

The city's budget problems have led to salary reductions
that impact greatly on the 3,850 sworn officers of the
Department. In addition, our budget problems have deprived the
Department of much needed technological equipment, such as the
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (APIS) . These are
areas where Congress could provide financial assistance, which
would help to place District of Columbia police officers at the
forefront of law enforcement.

The Department presently has 423 positions filled by sworn
officers that could be civilianized. However, these positions
are essential to Department functions and would have to be back
filled. If Congress lifted the ceiling on the number of people
that could be hired in the Department under the Appropriations
Act, these positions could be civilianized and funded, which
would produce a savings in overtime expenditures and place more
sworn officers on the street.

There is a growing concern nationwide about how to deal with
an increasing number of violent and abused and/or neglected
juveniles. Determining what role the courts, juvenile and adult
institutions, advocates, and the children themselves should play
in addressing juvenile violence and abuse is no easy task. What
is clear, however, is that early interventions, including those
directed towards the parents, are the key to achieving effective
and long-term results.

Juveniles who are exposed to drugs or other illegal
activity, are abused or neglected by their care giver, live in
poverty, have poor school attendance, or a combination thereof,
are our most vulnerable population. Much needs to be done to
improve these children's circumstances.


The District of Columbia has recently passed three
legislative initiatives aimed towards improving the quality of
life for children, two of which I introduced: D.C. Law 10-159,
the "Police Truancy Enforcement Act" and D.C. Law 10-277, the
"Parental Responsibility Act". The third initiative. Bill 11-25,
the "Juvenile Curfew Act of 1995", introduced by Councilmember
Harold Brazil, was passed by the Council two days ago by a
unanimous voice vote. The curfew law will do' at night what the
truancy law accomplishes during the day, identifying children at
risk .

In addition to holding parents responsible for the actions
or circumstances of their children, these legislative initiatives
also recognize the need to assist some parents with obtaining or
enhancing the parenting skills necessary to improve their
children's lives, by allowing for referrals to parenting classes.
Although individual parenting classes differ
in scope and focus, these classes can be very effective in
strengthening the parent's ability to nurture and care for the

Just as early interventions and preventive measures are
necessary to save - or at least improve - the lives of those
juveniles who go astray and commit nonviolent offenses, a greater
range of alternatives to institutionalization and new approaches
to providing services to youth in juvenile facilities are also

I have met with a number of experts in the public and
private sector to discuss areas of potential reform in the
juvenile justice system. These proposals include: 1) increasing
the number of effective early intervention and delinquency
programs; 2) making additional resources available to the Court
for increasing the range of services and supervision for
delinquent youth; 3) revisiting the issue concerning the length
of time a juvenile remains in detention; and 4) providing a
greater range of recreational activities for youth through the
creation of public-private partnerships.

More than 80 percent of persons that are incarcerated at the
District of Columbia correctional complex are addicted to
controlled substances. D.C. Law 10-258, the "District of
Columbia Nonviolent Offenses Mandatory-Minimum Sentences
Amendment Act of 1994", effective May 25, 1995, reduced mandatory


sentences for nonviolent narcotic and abusive drug offenses and
eliminated the disparities in penalties for offenses which
involve forms of single drug cocaine. Persons arrested for
nonviolent narcotic and abusive drug offenses can receive medical
treatment through such programs as the Drug Court Intervention
Program, by which the offenders are afforded opportunities for
self -improvement without having to be warehoused in our prisons.

The District has a very successful drug court program •
administered by the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency and the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which have entered
into a five year interagency agreement to operate a drug court
demonstration project. The program is funded by the Center for
Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) , a component of the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services) and the National Institute of
Justice (NIJ) . The program is aimed at systematically delivering
new treatment services to pretrial defendants charged with felony
drug offenses, with the goal of reducing drug use and recidivism.

The drug court demonstration project requires that persons
receive intensive long term supervision, treatment and aftercare.
The program that not only treats the offenders but the program
allows them to remain productive in society. We must continue to
approve innovative approaches to treat those arrested for using
illicit drugs.

As for other matters related to correctional issues, the
Council's Committee on the Judiciary is considering Bill 11-151,
the "Model Correctional System Standards and Industries Act of
1995", which would establish standards for the operations of
correctional systems for the District of Columbia within 10
years. The U.S. House of Representatives is currently
considering H.R. 461, the "Lorton Correctional Complex Closure
Act", which would prohibit the placement of future District of
Columbia prison facilities in Virginia and close the Lorton
Correctional Complex in six years. I suggest that the Congress
take a close look at Bill 11-151, as it emphasizes the need to
improve or build new correctional facilities to house the vast
majority of the District's prison population.

In addition, I request that the District of Columbia be
exempted from the matching fund requirement for receiving federal
funds to build new prisons under the crime bill. Further, I ask


that the federal government assume the costs associated with
operating the new prisons for District offenders.

Council Bill 11-151 contains a section that expands the
market of prison industries. Currently, goods and services that
are derived from prison industries are limited in scope of sale
to and use by governmental entities. Bill 11-151 would invite
opportunities for prisons to enter into joint ventures with
private industries. It is my hope that the local governments
that use the goods and services of prison industries increase
their use of these resources.

Bill 11-159, the "Fiscal Year 1996 Budget Request Act" for
the District of Columbia contains a provision that would amend
title 18 U.S.C. 1761(b) to allow the sale and use of prison
industry goods and services to not-for-profit organizations.
Strengthening prison industries reduces idleness, trains
prisoners by developing skills that can enable the prisoner to be
productive when he or she returns to society, and thereby reduce

Thank you again for allowing me to present views on ways by
which we can combat crime in the District of Columbia.

Appendix 2. — Statement of Paul J. Goldstein

I am pleased to have the opportunity to share the results of my
research with the distinguished members of this committee. The
intent of my testimony today is to discuss drug relationships to
violence, with special emphasis on cocaine, in both the powder and
rock form. I would like to acknowledge the support that I have
received from both the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the
National Institute of Justice that enabled me to do the research that
I will be talking about today.

In recent years, the impact of violence on medical and public
health establishments has become increasingly clear. Emergency
room physicians see more victims of violence than do police. There
are now over one million aggravated assaults and more than 20,000
homicides in the United States each year. Homicide is the tenth
leading cause of death in the United States. The United States has
the highest homicide rate of any industrialized nation. Homicide
strikes disproportionately among the young, among racial
minorities, and among the poor. The leading cause of death among
teen-aged boys is gunshot wounds.

Various informed sources have attributed much of this violence to
drugs. However, ciurently there are no valid and reliable sources of
data, in either the health care or the criminal justice systems, that
provide adequate illumination of drugs/violence relationships for


policy makers. It is currently impossible to examine trends in

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JCombating crime in the District of Columbia : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, June 22, 1995 → online text (page 17 of 18)