Justice From The Frontlines: June 25, 2023
MD Police Chief Gets Life In Prison
David Crawford, a former police chief in Laurel, Maryland, was sentenced to eight life sentences plus 75 years for a series of twelve arson attacks. Crawford set fires at homes, cars, and garages of his victims. In some cases, Crawford set homes alight while families slept inside. Prosecutors reported that he sought revenge against a number of victims who he believed wronged him over petty grievances. In 2011, Crawford had developed a target list and began igniting fires with gasoline across six counties in Maryland. Crawford was arrested two years ago after authorities linked him to the fires. The Washington Post (June 27, 2023)
Cities Set Curfew For Youth
Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced that the city will enforce a youth curfew, after the shooting of two teenagers this spring. At a press conference, he said that this strategy is “about saving lives in every single way.” Since the beginning of the year, dozens of other cities and counties announced similar curfews for youth safety despite research that shows that the strategy is ineffective. Criminal justice reform advocates push back, arguing that these policies do not prevent violence and are potentially harmful for young people. They raised concerns about curfews leading to more interactions with police for Black and Latino teenagers. The Baltimore Banner (June 29, 2023)
Felony Disenfranchisement Laws
The American Civil Liberties Union sued Virginia and its Governor Glenn Youngkin to restore voting rights to felons. Virginia is one of the few states that automatically revoke voting rights for convicted felons unless the governor restores them individually. The lawsuit accuses Virginia of violating Reconstruction-era federal laws put in place after the Civil War. One plaintiff in the lawsuit was forced to apply to have his voting rights restored after spending 11 months in prison on a single 2018 felony drug possession charge. The plaintiff said, “I feel like I don’t have anybody to speak for me. I have no say on who represents me.” NBC Washington (June 26, 2023)
Incarceration And Homelessness
Formerly incarcerated Virginians are reported to be ten times more likely to face homelessness than their counterparts. Over 64,000 currently incarcerated Virginians will be vulnerable to housing insecurity once released. Shiri Yadine, the senior program manager for the Corporation for Supportive Housing, reported that race plays a significant role in this disparity. She said, “The system that has the most disparity is justice-involved youths. Black children in the commonwealth are eight times more likely to have justice involvement than anyone else.” She is advocating for more funding for supportive housing. Virginia Mercury (June 29, 2023)
D.C. Council Debates Controversial Crime Legislation
The D.C. Council held a hearing to discuss a proposed package of laws by Mayor Muriel Bowser aimed at addressing rising crime rates in the city. The legislation includes measures such as stricter penalties for gun related crimes, favoring pretrial detention and limiting early release for longer prison sentences. Over 160 people testified at the hearing. There was a divide between those advocating for tougher policies and longer sentences and those concerned about a return to failed “tough on crime” approaches. There was a consensus that the city’s violence levels had become unacceptable. The council will continue to debate and propose amendments to the bill in the coming weeks. DCist (June 27, 2023).
12 Arrested in Bust of Kennedy Street Crew
Twelve members of the alleged Kennedy Street Crew (KDY), an accused violent drug trafficking organization, have been arrested by federal law enforcement agencies and the D.C. police. The group said accused of being responsible for 19 shootings and seven murders along Kennedy Street NW in Washington, D.C. since 2021. Those indicted face federal charges related to drug and gun trafficking. There were significant amounts of fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana and firearms seized during the investigation. Additionally, the group is accused of using shell companies to launder money. The operation was conducted by the Violent Crime Impact Team. NBC Washington (June 27, 2023).
D.C Encouraging Public To Share Gun Tips
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, D.C., confiscated over 3,100 illegal guns in 2022, sourced mainly from states along the southern 95 corridor. Ghost guns, which lack traceable serial numbers are becoming increasingly prevalent. In order to curb this increase D.C. has raised the cash reward for tips leading to gun seizures and arrests, with a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $2,500. Tips related to ghost guns will receive a $5,000 bonus. WUSA9 (June 23, 2023)
The Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner’s 25 Year Track Record
Richard Worley, is the acting Baltimore Police commissioner and a nominee for the permanent position. Supporters highlight his deep understanding of the department, while activists emphasize the need for close examination considering the police force’s documented history of unconstitutional policing. Disciplinary summaries obtained through a public records request reveal several complaints against Worley, including traffic accidents and a complaint by a woman whose home was raided by police. However, the summaries only offer a limited view, and a complete Internal Affairs file would provide more information. Worley’s disciplinary history shows incidents such as preventable collisions and closed cases involving workplace conduct and alleged discrimination. The Baltimore Sun (June 29, 2023)
From the Des
Baltimore police punishments raises eyebrows; mental health faces reform in VA; D.C.’s homicide rate at 20-year high
The Department of Forensic Sciences in D.C. struggles with reform due to internal conflicts, raising concerns about the city’s criminal legal system. Former Baltimore police sergeant’s lenient sentence for misconduct stirs concerns about policing reform. Virginia State Senator dedicates career to mental health reform in the wake of personal tragedy. Former College Park Mayor is…
Ex-cop in Baltimore is sentenced for misconduct in false arrests; D.C. mayor focuses on youth violence
D.C. tackles opioid crisis and youth violence with public emergency declaration. Retired Baltimore cop receives home detention for misconduct. Logan Circle small businesses doubt crime bill’s effectiveness. DAT’s questionable traffic stops spark concerns. Juvenile detention center faces crisis with rising incidents. Inmate mastermind’s escape attempt foiled.
Mishandling of fractured wrist in D.C. prison awards victory till company claims bankruptcy; Youth in D.C. detention centers react to draw attention to their despair
The Pentagon faces a dog fighting scandal. Carjackings surge in D.C., and Maryland’s highest court deliberates on the fate of Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction gained notoriety through the “Serial” podcast.
In Other News
In response to greater concern over gun violence, Denver schools are bringing back police officers. Parents voiced the need for police officers for the sake of their student’s safety. Critics, however, are worried that this will disproportionately hurt students of color. There has been overwhelming data showing that Black students are far more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts. The New York Times (June 27, 2023)
Florida’s Governor Ron Desantis has spent over 13.5 million dollars to recruit officers in other states who are frustrated by Covid-19 vaccine mandates. His incentive scheme has resulted in a slew of recruited officers with a history of excessive violence or officers who have been arrested since being hired. The Guardian (May 22, 2023)
Three San Antonio police officers were charged with the murder of Melissa Perez after responding to a call outside her house. She was accused of having a “mental health crisis” before her death. All three officers have been released on $100,000 bonds, Bexar County jail records show. The New York Times (June 24, 2023)
The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of an online stalker from Colorado, stating that threats on social media must show subjective intent to be punishable. Supporters claim the decision bolsters free speech protections, while critics worry about the implications for protecting people from online threats. ABCNews (June 27, 2023)
A report by the Department of Justice blamed the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the conditions that allowed sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to hang himself in his Manhattan jail cell in 2019. The report found that 13 employees within the Bureau of Prisons engaged in misconduct and negligence in their treatment of Epstein. The report also highlighted a pattern of troubling deaths in custody and systemic problems within the Bureau of Prisons. NBC News(June 27, 2023)
- Read: Essay about parental incarceration by 17 year old Joshua Martoma, one of the winners of the Annual Student Editorial Contest.
- Read: Can cops smoke pot? Revamped legal landscape raises new questions for officers and recruits
- Read: The argument against charge-based exclusions or “carveouts”
- Read: Why life without parole in America is a cruel purgatory
- Read : Reasons to oppose charge based exclusions in Reform
- Read: feminist focus on punitive measures destabilizes supportive structures
- Tweet: Inmates are dying in Texas prisons during heatwave; met with minor acknowledgement