This is the meeting "recap" from the Northwest Columbia Heights Community Association's Criminal Justice Public Forum on Monday, January 25, 2010. It was a great event, with an amazing panel of high-level people who are on the "front-lines" of our criminal justice system. For NWCHCA, Monday was a night for superlatives:
The BIGGEST panel we'd ever had
The LARGEST turnout we'd ever had--over 130 people!
The MOST DIVERSE crowd we'd ever had--people from all over DC, not just Ward One or the Third District
The GREATEST NUMBER of volunteers we ever had
The MOST food we ever served!
I've attached a few photos. We had some media coverage, but unfortunately, I haven't got a link to send.
Our Guest Panelists and our Moderator were truly outstanding--here is a list of their names and links to their organizations:
• Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier: MPD
• DC Superior Courts Chief Judge Lee Satterfield: DCSC
• DC Deputy Attorney General Robert Hildum: OAG
• Executive Assistant US Attorney for External Affairs Albert Herring: USAO
• Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency Director Adrienne Poteat: CSOSA
• Pretrial Services Agency Deputy Director Cliff Keenan: PSA
• Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A Chair Cliff Valenti: ANC1A
• Court Watch Leader for MPD’s 5th District Kathy Henderson
• NWCHCA President and Community Criminal Justice Accountability Initiative (CCJAI
) Leader Cecilia Jones: NWCHCA
• Moderator: Sam Ford, ABC 7 News: WJLA
Brief Meeting Notes
- The meeting began with two announcements: one from MPD Third District Commander Jacob Kishter about Operation LiveLink, and another from Maurice Henderson, DC Counts, about Census 2010.
- Our Moderator, Sam Ford, from ABC 7 News, introduced our panel. Each panelist stated their role in the criminal justice process.
- Case Study: To provide information about the "twists and turns" in the criminal justice system, our panelists walked through a "case study." Beginning with Chief Lanier, each member of the panel discussed a hypothetical criminal case, where a crime had just been committed and arrests were made. As we stepped through the case study, the audience saw how complicated criminal cases can be. It was very educational! I've attached a great document, "Processing Arrests," from the Pretrial Services Agency that covers many of the points that were discussed.
- Q&A from the audience: Many questions were raised and the panelists responded.
Information about CCJAI, Court Watch, and Ways to Get Involved
The Community Criminal Justice Accountability Initiative and Court Watch are working to close the DC criminal justice system's "revolving door." Crimes, particularly violent crimes committed by repeat offenders, are very prevalent--we can all do more to prevent repeat offenses. In response to a shooting where violent repeat offenders were responsible, CCJAI began, in April 2009 with the support of MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham, and many others (especially those on the panel). Since then, our partners, stakeholders and volunteers have participated in tracking over 250 criminal cases in PSA 302, and over 30 Community Impact Statements have been submitted to the Courts at sentencing. Court Watch, in MPD's 5th District, has been successful in intervening in serious criminal cases through focused activism, particularly a 2008 murder case. 5D's Court Watch and CCJAI are joining forces, to help spread community involvement in criminal case tracking throughout the District.
Community members: Please volunteer to join us in doing the following:
1. Attend trials and court proceedings
2. Make phone calls regarding specific cases
3. Write community impact statements
Our next CCJAI/Court Watch planning meeting will be Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 6:30 PM at the 5th District Police Station, 1805 Bladensburg Road NE, Washington, DC 20002. Please join us if you are interested in getting involved.
New Community Impact Statement Legislation and Upcoming Meetings
Through submitting Community Impact Statements, community members can request consideration at sentencing in criminal cases, although we are not the direct victim of the crime. Many crimes, such as drug dealing, affect the safety, quality-of-life, and prosperity (property values, losses from thefts, etc.) of our families and neighbors. Violent crimes such as home invasions or armed robberies, can make us fearful in our own neighborhoods, and even in our own homes. To formalize the process for community input to the courts, there is new proposed legislation. On Monday, February 8, 2010, 10:30AM, the Council
Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary is scheduled to hold a public
hearing on B18 - "Community Impact Statement Amendment Act of 2009." For more details, please see the DC Council's Calendar
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS! NEXT NWCHCA MEETING
Special Guest: At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown
Topic: Crime, Public Safety & Quality-of-Life Concerns from Community Members
Monday, February 15, 2010 (Presidents Day)
St Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church
1525 Newton Street NW, Washington, DC 20010
(Downstairs Dining Room, 16th-Street Side)
TIME CHANGE: 7:00 to 8:30 (please come by 6:45 to sign in)
Many thanks to all who participated for making the evening a great success.
President, Northwest Columbia Heights Community Association (NWCHCA)
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” --Mahatma Gandhi