justice from the frontlines: Aug. 27, 2023

Delayed response at doggy daycare

Emergency services took longer than expected to arrive at a doggy daycare in D.C., during a flash flood that took the lives of 10 dogs. Despite urgent calls describing the hazardous situation, dispatchers first classified it as a “water leak”, delaying the initial response. Responders didn’t arrive at the facility for about 30 minutes following the call. Owners of the dog-victims are outraged at D.C.’s mayor and the public safety communications center. The Washington Post | Twitter (Aug. 21, 2023)

Virtual learning as discipline

Baltimore County Public Schools came under fire for putting children in disciplinary action in their virtual learning program, which resulted in lower grades and decreased engagement. Critics suggest that virtual learning is the wrong strategy for students who are facing disciplinary action because it lacks the in-person assistance they require, negatively impacts their academic performance and potentially pushes them to enter the criminal justice system. The Baltimore Sun (Aug. 22, 2023)

Baltimore’s recidivism reduction initiative

The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE), led by Baltimore Mayor Scott, has put forward legislation to create an Office of Returning Citizens. In order to lower recidivism rates and address the issues faced by formerly incarcerated Baltimore residents, this office will coordinate programs and support networks for those individuals reentering society. Approximately 2,000 people return from prison each year in the city. CBS Baltimore (Aug. 21, 2023)

Crime-fighting recreation center

A view of the D.C. Superior Court building in downtown Washington.

In an effort to counteract rising crime rates, particularly among young people, Ward 8 residents and city officials in D.C. are celebrating the construction of the neighborhood’s first recreation facility in 20 years. The center is regarded as a crucial tool for giving young residents alternatives to crime and offering the neighborhood a secure, enjoyable area to hang out. DC News Now (Aug. 21, 2023)

D.C. officer shoots man

Following a report of a possible domestic incident with a gun in an apartment, a D.C. police officer shot a man who had reportedly fired numerous shots during an attempt to communicate with officers. According to Acting D.C. Police Chief Pamela A. Smith, the event illustrates the dangers of bringing firearms into domestic situations because the man, who is in serious condition, shot at police before being injured himself. The Washington Post (Aug. 17, 2023)

DNA evidence exonerates?

The D.C. Jail.

The Innocence Project of New York and other lawyers have backed Dontae Spivey in his fight for acquittal after he served nearly 25 years in prison for a murder in Baltimore that he says he did not commit. Spivey was excluded as the donor to DNA samples obtained from a sweatshirt and hat found at the crime scene, according to new DNA evidence that was previously kept hidden during his 1999 trial. This could potentially call into question Spivey’s original conviction. The Baltimore Banner (Aug. 25, 2023)

DMV retail theft concerns

The future of grocery stores and residents’ access to fresh produce in impacted communities are at risk due to rising retail theft and shoplifting concerns in D.C. and Fairfax County, VA. Although local authorities have been contacted about the issue raised by D.C. Councilman Trayon White, it is still unclear what exactly will be done to stop stealing and theft from the community. ABC 7 News (Aug. 23, 2023)

in other news

Body cameras in exchange for raises Police unions have called for salary increases for officers who wear body cameras in a number of American cities. While others contend that these cameras ought to be standard equipment, unions have used the argument that wearing cameras comes with more responsibility and a loss of privacy to push for higher pay. The New York Times (Aug. 20, 2023)

Tallest NYC jail sparks controversy Resident’s in NYC’s Chinatown, which has historically served as a center for immigrant workers, are worried about the effects of the controversial construction of a tall jail next to a nearby business. The project will affect the neighborhood’s disadvantaged immigrants and businesses, according to critics, including local landlords and activists, who disagree with the city’s assertion that the new jail is a crucial step toward closing the notorious Riker’s Island. The Guardian (Aug. 21, 2023)

Utah’s criminal reform Rep. Burgess Owens spoke as the keynote speaker at the Right on Crime employer engagement forum about the value of creating a culture of possibilities and second chances for people who have served time in prison. In particular at the municipal level in Utah, he emphasized the need for empathy and inventiveness in criminal justice reform. Deseret News (Aug. 24, 2023)

community board

  • Read: First Step Act – An Early Analysis of Recidivism
  • Read: Opinion | A Chance for Political Courage in My Republican State
  • Buy: New Book | They Killed Freddie Gray: The Anatomy of a Police Brutality Cover-up
  • Read: Opinion | Angola’s Death Row Shouldn’t Be Housing Kids
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Research and Reporting Intern