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The District of Columbia Crime Commission, in fact, published a typical instance of the day laborer who lost nearly $500 in the course of his service as an eyewitness to a larceny.
I would also call your attention to the provisions of the Crime Reduction bill which aid the rehabilitation of convicted offenders.
In title IX there are two significant changes. First, the supervision of youthful offenders is vested in the District of Columbia correctional authorities rather than Federal authorities. This permits continuity of supervision after the youthful offenders are paroled. We feel that it is a step that makes sense and one that provides that there not be a shift back and forth between jurisdictions.
Finally, in accord with the strong recommendation of the President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia, the proposed Crime Reduction Act establishes a Commission on the Revision of the Criminal Laws of the District of Columbia. The Commission which would be created by title VI would make a detailed study of the criminal laws and procedures applicable in the District, including the very anomalous penalty structure, and recommend to the Congress a complete revision and overhaul of that body of law which has not been codified since 1901. A criminal code which establishes a crime of manslaughter but which nowhere defines its elements, a code which punishes attempted housebreaking by a maximum of 1-year imprisonment but which permits a punishment of 15 years for the completed offense, and a code which outlaws kite flying in the District we feel is sorely in need of a complete study and revision.
I have not outlined every provision of the bill for you. It is a multifaceted bill covering many aspects of crime control policies, but each of its provisions, however, has the same goal of more effective prevention, detection and reduction of crime in the District of Columbia.
(The prepared statement submitted by Mr. Vinson reads in full as follows:)
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE STATEMENT ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CRIME
REDUCTION ACT OF 1967 The District of Columbia Crime Reduction Act of 1967 is one of the steps which the President has identified as “necessary to ultimate success in our drive against crime.” This proposed legislation contains his program to “strengthen” District of Columbia laws. It supplements the budgetary commitment and administrative changes which he called for. It is an integral part of our "stepped up” war on crime.
We need not spend time recounting the details of the crime problem to which this legislation is addressed. The District of Columbia Crime Commission has filed a 1,041 page report setting forth an unprecedented collection of data on the plague which besets this city. The Report documents the rising incidence of crime and identifies those local laws which are inadequate for the task of reducing crime and which, in some instances, create circumstances facilitating criminal activity. For example:
Guns are freely available in the District of Columbia and have become the weapon of choice among the lawless. They figure in about 30 percent of the serious offenses.
Nearly 40,000 intoxicated persons a year divert police and court resources from more serious crime, yet our local statutes prevent full utilization of alternative methods of handling alcoholics.
Valuable police time is also lost when officers process arrested persons who might have been given citations to appear at a later time.
Prosecutors are taken by surprise because no law requires notification of the insanity defense. 1 Presidential Message on Nation's Capital, February 27, 1967.
Youthful offenders and other prisoners are not handled in the manner most likely to assure rehabilitation because new statutory authority is needed to allow supervision of young offenders by our local correctional officials and to permit agreements for better industrial training in the prisons. The District of Columbia Crime Reduction Act remedies these and other legislative inadequacies. Many of its provisions are specifically recommended by the District of Columbia Crime Commission and most are generally supported by the findings of the National Crime Commission. In sum, there is ample evidence that the nine titles of this bill will aid law enforcement.
The provisions of Title I on gun control, however, are among the most significant. It will insure tighter controls over the ownership and possession of pistols in the District of Columbia. In fiscal 1966, 1,850 maior crimes were committed in the District by means of pistols including 73 homicides, 640 assaults and 1,137 robberies and attempted robberies. The reports of the National Crime Commission and the District of Columbia Crime Commission endorsed firearms legislation similar to the bill that you are considering today. The findings of these Commissions demonstrate that strict pistol controls can strengthen our efforts to reduce crimes of violence and help keep lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous and irresponsible people. Title I would:
Prohibit possession and ownership of pistols by the mentally ill, drug users, chronic alcoholics, and minors.
Require any person desiring to possess, carry in puolic, or purchase a pistol to obtain a license upon showing he needs the pistol to protect his person or property.
Prohibit persons from carrying rifles and shotguns in public unless unloaded and encased.
Increase criminal penalties where a firearm is used in the commission of a robbery. These gun control provisions are similar to the licensing provisions of the New York State Sullivan Law. Hopefully, they will bring the kind of control which has reduced the gun murder rate in New York to 1.7 per 100,000 population- -a substantial improvement when compared to the 9.1 rate in the District of Columbia.
I also call your attention to those portions of the bill which will free police time and public resources for the serious problems of law enforcement. Both Titles IV and VIII contain provisions which minimize the number of police hours and the public monies spent processing persons who are not a serious threat to public safety. Law enforcement is not materially advanced when policemen are used as jail guards, custodians and van drivers. Similarly, no important law enforcement purpose is served by statutes which require the police to arrest and process all intoxicated persons without regard to whether they are causing a public disturbance or not.
Title IV therefore creates a procedure by which police officers may issue citations to arrested persons. These citations, which can function somewhat like traffic tickets, will specify the time at which the arrested person is to appear in court. Issuance of the citation rests in the discretion of the police and will be used in those cases where there is assurance that the accused will appear in court. Under present law, the local police are doubtful about their authority to do this. They may be bound by law to arrest all persons committing crimes and to bring these persons before a committing magistrate. They thus do not use the citation procedure which has proved successful in other jurisdictions including the city of New York and various California communities (Sunnyvale, Glendale and Contra Costa). These cities have eliminated much of the police time spent in transporting persons from scene of arrest to station house to headquarters to court. Costs of supervising arrested persons have been reduced and there has been no serious loss to the public safety. Coincidentially innocent accused persons have not been subject to the adverse consequences of unnecessary confinement.
Title VIII portends a similar saving of police time and public benefit. It amends the public intoxication laws of the District of Columbia and carries out the recommendation of the District of Columbia Crime Commission. The Commission stated that:
"* * * public intoxication alone should not be a crime in the District of Columbia. Criminal sanctions should be restricted to individuals who, in addition to being intoxicated, behave in a disorderly manner so that they substantially disturb other citizens. Persons who are so drunk that they cannot care for themselves should be taken into protective custody by the police, and taken immediately to an appropriate health facility."
The existing law which makes mere public intoxication an offense drains our crime control resources and does nothing for the victims of alcoholism. Our costs under the law exceeded $2 million annually for incarceration and another $3 million for police processing and court adjudication. Despite these expenditures the District of Columbia had three times as many intoxication arrests per unit of population as other cities. Compare 44,000 arrests with the 2,445 arrests in St. Louis (population of 750,026) which utilizes some of the procedures proposed in Title VIII. It seems evident the District of Columbia would do well to cease losing $5 million per year of police, court and correction resources in its revolving door for drunks and revise its laws to permit useful medical alternatives to the criminal process.
Obviously Title VIII with it new provisions for handling intoxicated persons is not primarily a police timesaving device. Its primary thrust is one of removing from the criminal process those persons who are not aided or corrected by the criminal process and for whom other modes of treatment are probably more successful. In this respect Title VIII and Title VII have a similar purpose. Title VII dealing with narcotic addiction is designed to give drug addicts before the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions the same opportunities for treatment which the Congress approved in the Narcotic Rehabilitation Act of 1966.
The Crime Reduction Bill also aids the police in other ways. Title II authorizes arrests for certain misdemeanors without a warrant, Title III prevents obstruction of police investigation and Title V clarifies police authority with respect to material witnesses.
As you know under existing District of Columbia law a police officer may arrest a person without a warrant if an offense is committee in his presence or if he has probable cause to believe that a felony has been committed. Generally he cannot arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in his presence unless he has a warrant. Title II would permit the police, in carefully delimited instances, to make arrests without a warrant for certain serious misdemeanors not committed in their presence. But to effectuate such an arrest, the bill requires the arresting officer to have probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed one of the enumerated misdemeanors (assault, unlawful entry, receiving stolen goods, and attempts to violate the laws relating to housebreaking, grand larceny and unauthorized use of a vehicle), and, moreover, to have probable cause to believe that, unless immediately arrested, the person will not be apprehended or may cause injury to others or to property, or may destroy evidence. The police in such instances are plainly in need of immediate arrest authority. Some progressive statutes-such as Wisconsin's—in fact permit such arrests for all misdemeanors where there is a reasonable belief that the offender, if not immediately taken into custody, will escape apprehension or will do further damage. Indeed, that is the view taken by the first tentative draft of the American Law Institute's Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedure.
Another important aid to the police is contained in Title III of the proposed Crime Reduction Act. This Title concerns the obstruction of criminal investigations. Existing law relating to obstructions of iustice in the District of Columbia applies only to obstructions of on-going judicial proceedings; no provision is made for obstructions occurring in the investigative stages preceding the institution of formal judicial criminal proceedings. The proposed Title would fill the existing gap by making criminal the obstruction of investigations relating to violations of any criminal statute or regulation in the District.
Prosecution of criminal offenses is also aided in this Bill. Titles V and IX facilitate the availability of witnesses, and provide notice of the insanity defense. Title V fills a gap in the law and clarifies police authority to take material witnesses into custody. This Title provides adequate protection for material witnesses by insuring prompt presentment before a magistrate and release under the terms of the Bail Reform Act of 1966. The provisions of Title IX are of even greater significance for witnesses. Section 905 provides a medium of compensation for those persons who appear as witnesses in the Court of General Sessions. Existing law provides 75 cents a day for these appearances and the proposed law provides $4 a day. Neither is totally adequate to compensate witnesses who may lose several days from work while endeavoring to aid law enforcement. The District of Columbia Crime Commission published a typical instance of the day laborer who lost nearly $500 in the course of his service as an eye witness to a larceny.
I also call your attention to those provisions of the Crime Reduction Act which aid the rehabilitation of convicted offenders.
In Title IX there are two significant changes. First the supervision of youthful offenders is vested in District of Columbia correctional authorities rather than federal authorities. This permits continuity of supervision when the young offenders are paroled and facilitates their rehabilitation. Second, this portion of the bill authorizes the District Commissioners to enter agreements with the Federal Prison Industries Corporation thus expanding the types of vocational rehabilitation which can be offered to prisoners confined in District of Columbia correctional institutions.
Finally, in accord with the strong recommendation of the President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia, the proposed Crime Reduction Aet establishes a Commission on Revision of the Criminal Laws of the District of Columbia. The Commission created in Title VI would make a detailed study of the criminal laws and procedures applicable in the District, including the largely anomalous penalty structure, and recommend to the Congress a revision and overhaul of that body of law which has not been codified since 1901. A criminal code which establishes a crime of manslaughter but which nowhere defines its elements, a code which punishes attempted housebreaking by a maximum of one year imprisonment but which permits a punishment of 15 years incarceration for the completed offense, and a code which outlaws kite flying ---that is a code sorely in need of revision.
I have not outlined every provision of the bill for you. It is a multi-faceted bill covering many aspects of crime control. Each of its provisions, however, has the same goal ---more effective prevention, detection and reduction of crime in the District of Columbia.
Mr. WHITENER. Any questions, Mr. Sisk?
I would appreciate some comments with reference to several points here. I do not think that I will take too long, because I am sure that others will have questions, too.
I am sure that you are aware of the work that this committee has done, as well as that of the committee on the other side, in the last 2 or 3 years in this particular area.
When we sent the bill down to the White House last year it was vetoed.
I recognize, of course, there are controversial areas in the bill which, is evident from the testimony here.
I would simply like to ask your comments, your personal opinion from your experience on law enforcement, on title III of the ominbus bill and your title II.
Mr. Vinson. I think that there is very little correlation, actually, between our proposal as to empowering the police to make arrests in certain misdemeanors or without a warrant and title III of the ominibus crime bill.
Our bill basically would just require police to have probable cause to believe that one of the enumerated serious misdemeanors had been committed in order to arrest; they would not have to run back to the station house and go to the court and go to the Commissioner and get a warrant. They could make the apprehension at that time and on that spot, but once that was done the person apprehended would be in the same posture as any person arrested by the police.
Now, title III of the omnibus bill speaks in terms of detention of suspects. It seems to require a circumstance where a policeman has cause to make an arrest, but then allows him to hold a person so detained for 4 hours without making the arrest. Actually, it appears to sort of start off on the basis of a stop, 20 minutes or so. It seems to start off with that thrust, but allows the police to detain for 4 hours without actually making a charge.
In our view, first, assuming a circumstance which gives rise to the right to make an arrest and then allowing detention for 4 hours before a decision has to be made as to whether to arrest or not is a very anomalous situation. We feel that with respect to Miranda, for instance, where the Supreme Court speaks not in terms of arrest but in terms of in-custody interrogation-we feel that the requirements of Miranda, such as the right to counsel, and so forth, would have to be present operationally in regard to title III just as it would in the case of an arrest.
Mr. Sisk. Let me ask you this: Was your office consulted at the time that this matter was under review by the White House? Was your office consulted, or did you make any recommendations?
Mr. Vinson. Yes, sir.
Mr. Sisk. And that recommendation was based on--and for what additional reasons?
Was the question of constitutionality one of the reasons?
Could you enumerate quickly the other reasons that led to your recommendation?
Mr. VINSON. Yes, sir. I think that, if you would like, I will start at the top, with title I of the omnibus bill.
Mr. Sisk. The gentleman from Washington apparently has to leave, Mr. Chairman, and I will be happy to yield to him briefly so that he may ask some questions.
Mr. Adams. Will the gentleman yield for one question?
I apologize to the witness. I will be back as promptly as I can, but we have another matter that is taking some time this morning.
I just wanted to ask Mr. Vinson: Are you familiar with the bill that has been introduced by Mr. Hagan, H.R. 6143, dealing with alcoholic treatment as compared to your title VIII?
Mr. VINSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. ADAMS. And I would like, if you can briefly tell me whether or not you believe his bill is a good one and could perhaps be substituted for a title in the proposed bill?
Having read it, it looks to me like it may be more comprehensive.
Mr. Vinson. It is more comprehensive, Mr. Adams. We are in thorough agreement with the objectives of the bill. We feel that the objectives of that bill and the objectives of our title with regard to intoxication are identical. We have some problems with some language.
It appears that a great deal of Congressman Hagan's bill are matters that perhaps more typically, more efficiently might be taken care of by regulations, but as to a specific
Mr. ADAMS. Would you be kind enough to have one of the members of your Department submit, maybe, a joint letter to Mr. Hagan and myself, indicating what you think about it, as to which part can be done by regulation, and the like. We would like a legal memorandum from you on that.
Mr. VINSON. I think we have already a memorandum which accomplishes that which we will put in the form of a letter to the committee.
(See letter dated April 24, 1967, to the Chairman, at p. 248.) Mr. ADAMS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.