HOW TO LOWER DC CRIME:
THE OPPOSITE OF MAYOR BOWSER'S PLAN
A PLAN FOR A SAFER, MORE EQUITABLE DC
Police primarily make arrests on misdemeanors and drug offenses, rather than working to reduce violence. Instead, we should invest in communityled security initiatives and ensure that decent housing, jobs, education, medical and mental health services are available to all.
- More than 2/3 of all DC arrests are for misdemeanors and drug offenses.
- Only 4% of arrests are for violent crimes.
- Arrests are overwhelmingly racially biased. More than 90% of all arrests in DC (not made at political demonstrations) are of black people, but population is less than half black.
People with criminal records face intensive discrimination in housing and employment. To prevent crime, DC must provide housing and real job opportunities to everyone coming out of prison. Failing to do this often forces criminal activity for survival.
Research shows one of the best ways to reduce crime recidivism is employment. In High Point, NC, police helped quickly place in jobs the most violent offenders they judged most likely to re-offend. NC's overall recidivism rate is 40.7%, but the High Point program took it to 5%. Research across six states shows this trend to be consistent. Why not provide jobs for returning citizens in low-income communities, like DC's Ward 8, which suffers from double-digit unemployment?
Furthering existing discrimination, Mayor Bowser wants to target returning citizens (and anyone they stay with) with more surveillance, harassment, arrests, and incarceration. These tactics will threaten people's homes and increase hardship for returning citizens.
Increasing arrests makes the problem worse. Most arrests are of black people for minor offenses (offenses for which white communities often face no hassle), increasing the number of people with an arrest record or time in prison. This increases how many people cannot get jobs or housing. The Mayor's plan will worsen poverty, discrimination, and, ultimately, street crime.
Inequality is rampant.
- The 2013 DC poverty rate for black residents (28.7%) is more than three times the rate for non-Hispanic whites (7.7%).
- While 15.3% of DC households had incomes under $15,000 (well under the applicable poverty threshold at $23,624 for a two-parent, two-child household), 12% had incomes of at least $200,000.
DC schools are dismal.
- Only 20% of students in elementary schools in DC's poorest neighborhoods score at or above grade level, while 60% of students in schools in the wealthiest neighborhoods score at grade level or better.
- Poor children have lower math and reading test scores than more affluent children within the same schools.
- Among children at elementary schools in the poorest fifth of DC neighborhoods, 81% scored basic or below basic reading level 2004. In math, 78% of students enrolled in these schools scored basic or below.
- less money for police, more for:
- affordable housing
- income support
- community-led security initiatives, like Safe Streets, which in one Baltimore neighborhood led to a 56% drop in violence
- higher mininmum wage
- investments in permanent jobs programs, not just summer jobs for kids
- demilitarization of police:
- NO SWAT teams
- NO jump-outs
- NO "broken windows policing" (arrests for minor offenses)