United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

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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for every 18 residents.

5) D.C. Superior Court ranked first in the nation in dvil case filings per
resident in 1993 ^.e., all types of civil actions matters, domestic relations
cases, and estate filings).

6) D.C. Superior Court ranked 4th in the nation in the number of cases filed
per judge in 1993. Superior Court's average caseload per judge (2,907 cases)
is higher than the average caseload pa- judge in the trial courts of 47 other

In addition, the Superior Court has been operating for a substantial period without

its full complement of judicial officers. The Senate confirmed on May 26, 1995 three

pending judicial nominations and these new judges will take full calendars upon the


completion of their training next month. I have assigned one of the new judges to the
Criminal Division and two of the new judges to our Family Division. This will permit the
court to begin to reduce the backlog of pending criminal and juvenile cases.

In order for the Superior Court to effectively impact crime in the District of
Columbia, its FY-95 Operating Budget and its Capital Budget must be fully funded.

The past three operating budget requests for the Superior Court have been
essentially "no growth" requests. The Court has beai and will continue to work within the
constraints of a "no growth" operating budget, through streamlining, downsizing and other
cost containment measures. In order for the Court and its judges to continue to operate
effectrvely and efficiently, it is essential that the Superior Court's total operating budget of
$81,848,000 for FY 1996, which reflects a total net increase of $5,353,000 to support
mandatory personnel costs, pay equity and other personnel service requirements,
automation, and alternatives to incarceration services be fully funded. Funding for most
of these requirements have not been appropriated over the past two fiscal years, which has
resulted in vacancy rates too high to fully support a full compliment of judicial officers.
Moreover with pending judicial vacancies now being filled, savings from these vacancies are
no longer available for other personnel expenses.

With a fully funded FY-95 Operating Budget, the Superior Court can go full speed
ahead in the Criminal & Family Divisions with its carefully crafted programs that are
designed to expeditiously, fairly, efficiently and consistent with due process of law
adjudicate criminal, juvenile and abuse and ne^ect cases. This adjudication must be


supported by the availability to judicial officers of a Tariety of dispositioiial and scntcndng

options offering: diversion, intervention, surveillance, treatment and incarceration or


Some of the options that the Court has designed are:

1. The Urban Services Cooununity-Based Sanctions Program has great potential
for success in addressing the needs of the youthful offender population. It
is an alternative to incarceration program consisting of intensive supervision,
counseling, education and training, and other disci|riinary services needed to
reduce criminal activity among young adults and juveniles (ages 14-26) in the
District. This program fills a critical gap in the ejdsting justice system by
providing a sanction alternative which specifically targets youthful non- violent
offenders. Within an urban "boot camp" environment, the program will
interrupt the criminal activities of youthful offenders and re-direct them
through an authority system which ensures swift and predictable enforcement
and accountability. We are concerned, however, that this Bureau of Justice
Assistance program is under-funded. To compensate, we have sought
additional funding and added more in-kind resources in the form of our own
staff. Phase One of this program is one of its most important features and
we are, quite frankly, more than $400,000 short of funding in this area. This
program is ready to put in full operation and we feel that we can intervene
with respect to about 125 youthful offenders, at any given time within this


2. The Electronic Monitoriiig Intensive Supervision Unit was started with the
intent to provide intensive supervision and monitoring for adult and juvenile
ofTenders. Unfortunately, at this time, we are only able to adequately serve
the adult portion of this population. We are in need of an additional 100
units for electronic monitoring to serve our juvenile population. An
additional $200,000 is necessary to provide these monitoring services to
juveniles and maintain the program at the comprehensive aduh/juvenile level.

3. Hie Probation and Parole Resource Center provides comprehensive treatment
for drug involved criminal offenders. Since its inception, 1,407 offenders
have entered formal assessment and received services such as drug education
and counseling, treatment services, and placement in employment, job
training, or vocational education programs. Funding is needed to expand this
program to juveniles and maintain the high level of intensive surveillance.
The needed funding for this purpose is $60,000.

4. Domestic Violence in the District of Columbia has sky rocketed. In domestic
violence cases in 1990 there were 1,839 Civil Protection Orders issued; in 1991,
2,300 Civil Protection Ordo^ issued; in 1993, 2,891 Civil Protection Orders issued
and in 1994, 3,177 CivO Protection Orders issued. From 1990-1994, Civil Protection
Orders increased by 73%, with Temporary Protection Orders increasing in 1994 by
39%. The Domestic Violence Coordinating Council was established to address this
problem and it is presently in the final stage of drafting a nuyor, comprehensive
plan to reduce domestic violence in the District of Columbia. Domestic violence


cannot be addressed without sufficient and adequate treatment programs, including
substance abuse programs, batterers treatment programs, incarceration and
incarceration treatment programs, where appropriate, for offenders, as well as
systemic support and advocacy for domestic violence victims. Success depends upon
a comprehensive and cooperative effort by the court, governmental agencies, the
victim advocacy community and the community at large. Our Plan emphasizes
offender accountability through frequent monitoring and judicial review of all court-
ordered conditions. The plan will require a m^jor reorganization of domestic
violence case processing by the court and adoption of new procedures by the
M^ropolitan Police Department, the United States Attorney's Office and the D.C.
Office of the Corporation Counsel. I am convinced that a systemic multi-
disciplinary approach to the problem oi domestic violence holds the greatest promise
of bringing this growing problem under control which is very destructive of the
family, which breeds chfld abuse and neglect, which seeds juvenile delinquency,
which then leads to aduh crime and even more domestic violence. Hie cost of
developing the implementation plan for our domestic violence plan has been
estimated at $250.000.00 . The cost of implementation itself has not been

The Superior Court's Drug Court Intervention Program, which began in 1993,
moved into full-scale operation in 1994 by screening 1,436 drug involved adult
offenders and admitting 936 defendants into placement in one of the Drug Court's
sanctions, treatment, or monitoring tracks. The Drug Court Intervention Program


represents a nuuor change in the way the court has traditionally dealt with drug
abusing defendants, in that the court provides on-site drug testing and immediate
access to a range of drug treatment serricei). Although the test period for the Drug
Court has not been completed, pr eliminar y results are as follows:
• Individuals on the "Standard Docket" over a five month period went
from 100% testing positive to 67% testing positive.

• Over a five month period, participants on the "Treatment Dockrt" went
from 100% testing positive to 15% testing positive.

• Individuals on the "Sanctions Docket" over a five month period went
firom 100% testing positive to 10% testing positive.

A comparison of individuals on the "Standard", "Treatment" and "Sanctions" dockets is
shown in the chart below:

Individuals on D.C. Superior Court Drug Intervention Program
Comparison of "Standard", "Sanctions" and "Treatment" Dockets

At Start Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6

Eligible participants are drug felony defendants who tested drug positive
twice on release and did not transfer off docket for trial
Source The Urban Institute, March, 1995


The cost per defendant per year in the Drug Court is $1,200 and $24,000 per year
for incarceration.

The Drug Court Intervention Program is funded under a five-year grant from the
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) operating under the auspices of the U.S.
Department for Health and Human Services. As the program evolved, there are many
related public safety issues that have grown out of the project which were not envisioned,
and consequently not funded, at the grant's inception.

For example, the three Drug Court courtrooms now have access via personal
computers to the Pretrial Services Agency's Drug Test Management System (DTMS) vrhich
allows judges to instantaneously view each defendant's drug test results, as well as an
extensive history of results. TUs ability to confront defendants with timely proof of their
non-compliance is invaluable in cutting throu^ much of the denial associated with habitual
drug use. However, providing judges with access to this information in the courtroom is
no longer enough. It is imperative that access is provided outside of the courtroom to these
judges, as well as to other judges throughout the court, and to treatment professionals in
the court's Social Services Division, to ensure vigilant monitoring of these defendants. In
order to add the computers for this purpose, the Superior Court would need $650,000.

Without taking any position on the policy issues raised by mandatory minimum
sentences in drug cases, I should point out that the existence of the mandatory minimum
sentence has been an important factor in the success of our drug courts. A defendant's
decision to plead guilty to a reduced charge is often influenced, to a great degree, by a
desire to avoid the substantial mandatory sentence he or she would face if convicted at trial.
This has enabled the court to dispose of close to eighty percent of our drug felony cases



whhin nineteen days of arrest and to steer many of these defendants with substance abuse
problems into treatment much earlier than would have occurred if the case had been
delayed many months to trial.

The Capital Budget represents the planned expenditures for the acquisition and
improvement of fixed assets, and is a necessary support for the Superior Court's operating

By 1993, the Superior Court was granted authority to acquire and improve those
fixed assets vital to the delivery of mandated judicial services from the District's Capital
Budget. Specifically, these projects would enable the SupeniH* Court to acquire the
necessary courtrooms with lock-up facilities and relieve some of the congestion that
cnrrently exists in the Courthouse, particularly on the John Marshall Level of the
Courthouse where Family Division, including juvenDe, cases are processed.

Unfortunately, the District is recommending recession of five capital projects
amounting to $23.8 million in capital authority, which would provide the Superior Court
vrtth the required courtrooms for criminal and juvenile proceedings, to increase the
processing of these cases.

Accordingly, the court scaled-down or completely cancefled the construction of
several previously-authorized courtrooms and capital improvement projects. Key to these
capital projects was the restoration and renovation of 451 Indiana Avenue, N.W. (Building
D) to convert its use totally to support the functions of the District of Columbia Courts.
Building D was constructed between 1820 and 1841 and is a building of considerable
historical significance. Early in its history, it served as the "City Hall" for the District,
lliere has beoi virtually nothing spent in recent decades to maintain this structure. The



electrical switching gear, plumbing and heating and air conditioning systems need to be
replaced and exterior and interior architectural renovations are required to maintain the
building's historical preservation status.

The Superior Court's long-term capital needs were substantially addressed during
the fiscal year 1993 capital budg^ process. We have refrained from requesting any
additional capital authority. I strongly feel that the recommended action of rescinding
approximately 60% of the Courts' currently-provided capital authority is not in the best
interest of the Superior Court

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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 4 of 18)