justice from the frontlines: Sept. 3, 2023

Questionable death in Arlington County jail

Abonesh Woldegeorges, a 73-year-old woman, passed away after being discovered unresponsive in an Arlington County jail cell where she was being held on trespassing charges. Her cause of death is still unknown. The Arlington County jail has seen eight deaths ever, and this one took place while run by Sheriff Jose Quiroz who took over for Beth Arthur after she was criticized for earlier deaths. The Arlington NAACP has expressed concern about how inmates who require medical attention are handled by the jail. The Washington Post (Aug. 27, 2023)

Return of prosecuting petty crimes

Baltimore resident Dallis Glover was issued a citation in June for carrying an open container of alcohol. The prosecutor presented him with a deal when he appeared in court in August: complete five hours of community service, and the charge would be dismissed. Resuming prosecution for minor offenses like public intoxication, according to critics, may result in pointless arrests and unfairly target marginalized communities. They also raise concerns about the logistical difficulties vulnerable people may encounter in attending court. Governing (Aug. 25, 2023)

Maryland juvenile justice reform

There have been calls for changes to the juvenile justice laws in Maryland as a result of the rise in juvenile involvement in the criminal justice system. However, Senator Jill Carter wants to make filing Child in Need of Supervision (CINS) petitions mandatory during the upcoming legislative session to address the issue and improve education about the resources available for all stakeholders involved with young offenders. Some law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are pushing for amendments to bring more accountability to young offenders. Fox Baltimore (Aug. 28, 2023)

D.C. youth violence initiatives

With 13 children killed in the city this year, youth violence in Washington, D.C. continues to be a serious problem. City officials announced a pilot program of increased curfew enforcement in some neighborhoods beginning Sept. 1 as part of their efforts to address the problem as violent youth crimes have increased by 38% this year. However, some residents, like Leola Smith, think that more extensive measures are required to combat the violence, which has an effect on both communities and businesses. Fox 5 D.C.  (Aug. 28, 2023)

Exonerees support Adnan Syed

Adnan Syed, whose case gained notoriety through the “Serial” podcast, has received support from over 70 wrongfully convicted individuals from across the United States. As Syed’s case moves forward in the appeals process, they filed a brief with Maryland’s highest court highlighting the shortcomings in the criminal justice system and the difficulties exonerees face after being freed. This raised issues regarding victims’ rights and potential repercussions for criminal justice reform initiatives. AP News (Aug. 28, 2023)

Police failures during mass shooting

The D.C. Jail.

Prior to a mass shooting at a Brooklyn Day block party in Baltimore, a 100-page report issued by the Baltimore Police Department stated that a police district commander gave officers instructions to watch the crowd as it grew but not to get involved out of concern that they would become targets. The research reveals that a number of reasons, including supervisory indifference and poor management, contributed to the insufficient police reaction to the incident, which resulted in two deaths and 28 injuries, and indicates a lack of readiness and interaction with citizens in specific regions of the city. Police are beginning to discipline staff after the incident to re-evaluate the system.  The Baltimore Banner (Aug. 30, 2023)

D.C. teen prosecuted as adult

In connection with armed robberies and carjackings, 16-year-old Zakyh Samuel has been prosecuted as an adult in Washington, D.C. This reflects the U.S. attorney’s office’s new policy of evaluating more cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds for adult prosecution in situations of numerous crimes. In connection with a number of carjackings and robberies, Samuel is accused of armed robbery, armed carjacking, and handgun possession during a violent crime. The Washington Post (Sept. 1, 2023)

Baltimore’s inadequate citations

Baltimore’s plan to resume police enforcement of “quality-of-life” offenses has run into problems. In the first two months, officers issued 50 citations, 47 of which were identified as insufficient and never made it to the court docket. City council members broadly support the program’s philosophy despite their reservations about the program’s mechanics, while they have voiced concerns about biased enforcement and the absence of comprehensive demographic information on contacts. The Baltimore Banner (Aug. 30, 2023)


Mayor Bowser Reminds Residents that the Juvenile Curfew Enforcement Pilot Begins on September 1

Washington, DC Will Pay $5.1 Million For Arresting Gun Owners

D.C.’s Efforts to Take Back Control of Parole from the Feds Are ’As Good as Dead‘

in other news

Jacksonville hate crime Three Black individuals were killed by a White shooter who opened fire at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday before turning the gun on himself, according to local law enforcement, who also described the crime as racially motivated. Vice President Harris launched a civil rights investigation into the shooting while highlighting the “epidemic of hate” in the country. The FBI’s Jacksonville branch is looking into the shooting as a hate crime. The Washington Post (Aug. 27, 2023)

Deceiving patterns in the LAPD Federal prosecutors and the FBI’s civil rights division have launched their own inquiries into a LAPD gang unit accused of failing to record their actions during traffic stops after LAPD internal affairs detectives searched officers’ lockers and discovered a pattern of misconduct involving the Mission Division Gang Enforcement Detail. There are worries about the deterioration of public confidence and transparency within the department as a result of the officers’ apparent failure to properly record detentions and actions taken during traffic stops. The Los Angeles Times (Aug. 25, 2023)

Woman gives birth in jail After seeking medical aid more than an hour before giving birth, a pregnant woman at the Montgomery County Jail in Tennessee was forced to give birth by herself in her cell, raising questions and prompting inquiries into the situation. Although an internal investigation has been undertaken, authorities have not publicly revealed why the woman was not transferred to a hospital before giving delivery. It is still unclear whether anyone will face disciplinary action. The Washington Post (Aug, 31, 2023)

Man with mental illness shot by police After being tragically shot by police, the family of Andrew Jerome Washington, a mentally ill resident of Jersey City, is looking for answers. The family had phoned the Jersey City Medical Center Crisis Center for aid, but cops showed up instead, starting a dispute that resulted in Washington being shot and murdered. Pix 11 (Aug. 27, 2023)

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Research and Reporting Intern