The Washington Post reports that Raasheem Jamal Rich, fatally stabbed Jan. 10, was once himself a killer in 1990.
Rich spent two decades in prison, during which the number of people killed in D.C. plummeted. His conviction two decades ago, and his violent death this year, connect two wildly different moments in the history of crime in the District.
The Associated Press reports on the falling homicide rate in the District, on track to be the lowest in half a century:
The crack epidemic that began in the 1980s ushered in a wave of bloodletting in the nation’s capital and a death toll that ticked upward daily. Dead bodies, sometimes several in a night, had homicide detectives hustling between crime scenes and earned Washington unwelcome monikers such as the nation’s “murder capital.” At the time, some feared the murder rate might ascend to more frightening heights.
But after approaching nearly 500 slayings a year in the early 1990s, the annual rate has gradually declined to the point that the city is now on the verge of a once-unthinkable milestone. The number of 2012 killings in the District of Columbia stands at 78 and is on pace to finish lower than 100 for the first time since 1963, police records show.
Read the full story here.
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Today is election day, and the AP has a story about an effort to help those currently held at DC jail vote:
While it seemed ordinary, the voting that went on at the D.C. jail and a facility where women are housed next door is unique. Most states and the District of Columbia bar prisoners serving time on a felony conviction from voting. But inmates awaiting trial or serving a sentence for a misdemeanor, an estimated 700,000 people nationwide, are allowed to vote as long as they aren’t barred by a past felony conviction.
Most states, however, don’t actively help these people vote, said Marc Mauer, the executive director of The Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group that advocates for sentencing reform and alternatives to prison.
“In the vast majority of jails there’s absolutely nothing being done to make that happen,” Mauer said.
Read the whole story here.
In a series of well-investigated articles, Cheryl Thompson of The Washington Post shares some startling statistics regarding D.C. homicides.
In a 15-month study, The Post found that less than a third of the homicides that occurred between 2000 and 2011 have led to a conviction. Why? Because “murders are now inherently more difficult to prosecute.”
The Washington Post this week profiled US Attorney Ronald Machen, the District’s top prosecutor.
As the District’s U.S. attorney, Machen has one of the most sought-after jobs in federal law enforcement.
The former partner at WilmerHale has labored to leave his own stamp on the country’s largest U.S. attorney’s office, which has about 300 lawyers handling matters in federal court and D.C. Superior Court and a budget that purportedly exceeds $70 million. (Although other U.S. attorneys have publicized their budgets, Machen has not.)
This Weekend Read comes from the Washington Examiner, which reported that a panel convened to address youth homicides has failed to meet in the 15 months since it was created.
From the Examiner:
A District panel developed after a spate of murders committed by fugitive juveniles hasn’t met more than 15 months after the law establishing it went into force, the city’s inspector general has found.
Fox5 has the story of Santae Tribble, who spent two decades in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
Tribble was 17 years old when he was arrested for the murder of cab driver John McCormick.
The DC Council this week approved a truancy and youth mental health services bill crafted in response to the South Capitol Street shooting.
Greater Greater Washington looks at how DC police are ramping up high-tech crime-fighting efforts:
Public listservs now include more than 10,000 members and allow citizens to read arrest and crime reports in almost real time. MPD has installed speed cameras around the city, added closed-circuit television cameras, and ShotSpotter devices, which immediately alert police to the sound of gunfire, in high-crime areas.
Not all technology investments are working, however. A 2011 study by the Urban Institute concluded the city’s more than 70 neighborhood crime cameras do not have a measurable effect on crime.
MPD Chief Cathy Lanier responded in an editorial today to the Post’s report about how MPD calculates— and advertises— its annual homicide closure rate.
On Feb. 19, The Post published a front-page article headlined “The trick to D.C.’s homicide closure rate,” suggesting that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was somehow tricking the public by announcing that it had a 94 percent homicide closure rate. To support its slanted claims, the article used misleading and inflammatory quotes from ill-informed sources. Furthermore, the writer left out information supplied by my department that would have invalidated the assertions contained in the story.