More than 10 percent of the District’s spiking number of homicides this year have involved previously known violent offenders who have recently been release from prison, D.C Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Thursday. “Multiple of our offenders involved in homicide have previous homicide charges and are recently back in the community, Lanier said at a news conference. Lanier said that police so far have identified 10 such people out of the city’s 91 homicide cases this year.
Yesterday Fox 5 news reported that many in the District are concerned about the way crime is classified. These statements from the Chief are just as concerning, and quite frankly, can be misleading. These statements mean that guys are being locked up and for some unknown reason are released from “prison” only to commit more crime, creating a cry for longer prison terms and stiffer prison sentences.
Many members of the community don’t have a clear understanding how the law works. There are a lot of misconceptions about how crime and offenders are handle once they are arrested. In all cases the Constitution, and its application, determine how the law is applied to criminal cases.
Article 1. Bill of Rights, Section 5. Due Process. “The State shall not deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The right of all persons to fair and just treatment in the course of legislative and executive investigations shall be abridge.”
Section 105 reads, Rights of accused in criminal proceedings. No person shall be held to answer for a felony offense, unless on a presentenced or indictment of a grand jury; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be tried put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself/herself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”
When D.C. officials speak of these issues it is important to inform the public what these statements actually mean. It is not unheard of for someone, take the case of the young man who was released in upper NW for a petty robbery who later stabbed to death the Metro bus passenger, to be released on one offense only to commit another shortly after release. The release of these individuals had nothing to do with whether the police, or other authorities, were weak on crime, but everything with due process of the law.
When a person is apprehended for an offense the first thing they are read is the Miranda warning. Most people have become familiar with the Miranda rights through TV. The right to remain silent anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. The right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one one will be presented to you. What most people who recite these warnings don’t know is that the difference between the accused walking for a heinous crime or going to prison for many years depend on the reading of these Miranda warnings. Supreme court ruling Miranda V Arizona requires the reading of these warnings. In short the accused has the right to remain silent when accused of an offense.
If the accused decides to not waive these rights it takes someone to come forth as a witness to the crime. Someone willing to give a statement and testify in the event of a trial. If the members of the community opt to remain silent there is nothing that law enforcement can do to make them talk.
The offender will sit in DC jail for a period of 9 months, the time it takes to bring forth and indictment. An indictment is evidence taken to a Grand Jury by the government. If the Grand Jury decides there is not enough evidence to indict that person, although they had been charged, the case cannot go forward to trial. A charge of murder simply means there is enough evidence to take a person off the streets. It does not mean there is enough evidence to convict them of the offense.
If the offender is not indicted within 9 months the courts are obligate to free them. They cannotbe held, by law, any longer than that time without an indictment. The case is dismissed and can lodged against that person at a later time without prejudice. There is no statute of limitation for murder offenses. So the case will continue to be investigated or closed.
If this is the case that is happening in DC it needs to be expressed as such. Why? As to not lead the public to believe that those who have been convicted of violent offenses are returning to the community, after many years in prison, to commit more violent offenses.
The key word is convicted. When a person is convicted of murder in DC they are sent to prison for many years. The law is enforced to the fullest extent. These men are not returning to DC to commit more violent offense. Most when they are release, and reoffend, do so for offenses not related to the offense that sent them to prison for many years. Often times they are sent back to prison for parole violations.
This is the way the law works. It is unfair to trust the law and ask for it to be implemented in certain cases but not in others. Due process of the law allows everyone equal protection of the law, regardless of the crime. Just at the law lock many up for years it is the same law that allow for repeat offenders to walk free. This is one of the issues many have with the law, and why it is often deemed unfair or unjust.
For the events that are taking place in the District there is a reason for it. But politics cannot be played at the expense of the lives of others. Many want answers. Many want to know what is going on and how the police and Mayor intend to address these issues. In the pursuit for answers they are entitled to the truth and explanation. Anything other than the truth and full explanation on how the law works only serves to further scare, and mislead the public.