Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of Washington, DC, is in the process of laying out plans to stop what is said to be a spike in crime in the District of Columbia. The Mayor and at least two City Council Members have called for implementing policies that will call for searches of the homes where Returning Citizens are living as well as their vehicles. These searches will not require warrants.
The Mayor says this is an effort to get illegal guns off the street. Many believe that this could lead to more negative profiling and add barriers to the existing obstacles that Returning Citizens face.
In a statement from the 7th District Police Department regarding the 103 murders in 2015, the following was conveyed: “Twenty-two of our homicide arrestees were under supervision pending trial or on parole at the time of the crime.”
Video: Press Conference
Personally, I believe this treatment would cause me undue stress mentally and emotionally if I were on parole. It would be like being locked up in society. Thankfully, I was terminated early last month.
In my opinion, this policy gives the impression that an individual is incapable of moving beyond their past. I know many Returning Citizens who have served lengthy sentences for crimes of violence. They are out on parole supervision, striving to rebuild their lives, contribute to their families and give back to their communities. They are a part of the solution now, not the problem. They want safe, peaceful streets just like everyone else.
Many formerly violent offenders are currently working hard with youth, and with recently released individuals, helping them to attain employment, re-unify with their families, maintain sobriety, and adjust to life.
Some Returning Citizens in the District of Columbia have advocated for more proactive policies such as the Ban the Box legislation, the Jobs Not Jails campaign and more.
The question now looms: How will parole officers and police distinguish between the Returning Citizens who are striving to be productive law abiding citizens and those who are not. Should some individuals be exempt from this new practice?
Moreover, how will the Mayor guarantee that this policy won’t lead to constitutional violations on behalf of U.S. citizens across the city?
Yesterday the Mayor held a press conference announcing her plans to monitor violent offenders more closely and allow the court to impose a greater burden of proof on those who are suspected of violating the law while on supervision.
It’s a sad day in the district for Returning Citizens at a time when the nation appeared to be moving toward prison reform and improving the criminal justice system. Protests erupted at the Mayor’s press conference as soon as the mayor announced her plan to increase police presence in areas where violence is prevalent.
Angry, sad, vulnerable citizens pleaded with council members and officials to consider the negative impact that these policies will undoubtedly have on Returning Citizens, the Community and the police. The press conference basically turned into a shouting match, and the Mayor stood firm delivering her speech and laying out her crime prevention plan.