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We do not share the Commissioner's pessimism on this score. Of course any such new law is apt to be challenged. But there was no certainty, despite all the hoopla to the contrary, that the last bill would have been rejected by the courts. And with more careful drafting the next time, an effective new bill could be made much less vulnerable to attack.
In any event, since only the courts can settle such a controversy, why not let the courts decide If it should turn out that Congress' best efforts are not adequate, it might be necessary then to turn to Tobriner's long, tedious alternative process. First, however, Congress should make the effort-starting with the drafting of a new bill in January.
(Washington Post, Letter to the Editor, Dec, 1, 1966)
Jails, Not SCHOOLS Thanksgiving Day about 8:30 p.m. my brother was returning to his residence when he was attacked by three young hoodlums at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, se. They beat him with a soda bottle for no reason. Ten stitches were required to close the wound in his head, both eyes are badly bruised and are swollen. He also lost a lot of blood. Several people saw this and nobody offered to help him. He had to cross the street and go into a gasoline service station to call the police.
This is the second time this has happened in the last month. It is about time for a decent law to protect the citizen instead of the hoodlums. These hoodlums know that the police department cannot arrest them so they are running wild. Instead of bigger and better schools we should be building larger jails and making the penalty so stiff that they would think twice before committing a crime.
ELIZABETH C. Montague, Washington.
(Washington Post, article dated Dec. 11, 1966) CHRONOLOGY OF 24 HOURS OF CRIME; POLICE ARE SWAMPED BY ROBBERIES
Here's a chronology of robberies in the District for the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. yesterday, all reported by Washington police:
10 a.m. Friday: armed robbery liquor store, 3000 12th st. ne., $150.
4:55 p.m.: holdup, Public National Bank, 1203 E st. nw. (suspect disappeared into throng of shoppers), $8716.
5:35 p.m.: pickpocket on a bus, 8th and Pennsylvania se., $219.
7:15 p.m.: holdup, Davis Truck Rental, 1710 17th st. nw., (emplove shot twice), $200.
7:25 p.m.: pocketbook snatched, 600 Bryant st. nw., $5.
11:55 p.m.; strongarm, 1251 New York ave, ne., $51.
$15,000 STOLEN IN A DAY “There were so many robberies that my men couldn't even respond to half of them," Capt. Ernst Winter, head of the Washington Police Robbery Squad, said yesterday.
Winter counted up 45 reported offenses in the 24-hour period ended at 8 a.m. yesterday, and noted that this total did not include an undetermined number of attempted robberies.
Although police do not keep day-to-day records of robberies, Winter said he could not recall any previous total above 36 in his 28 years on the force. It was estimated that nearly $15,000 was taken by the robbers.
Why did the outbreak occur?
"There were a lot of Christmas shoppers carrying money. Also, stores were open late and there were crowds, which is the way the bank robber disappearedinto a crowd,” Winter said.
"One thing is sure. Last month we had a record 529 robberies. This makes 190 so far this month, and if it keeps up, we're going to break all kinds of records.''
(WWDC, Editorial No. 1, dated Dec. 20, 1966, entitled “Robbery Rampage'') "Your money or your life
The words are so corny no self-respecting writer would dare to use them, even in a movie produced for television. But no matter what words are used by holdup men, robbery is on the rampage in Washington. And in each robbery, the lives of your neighbors and fellow townsmen are threatened. Holdups jumped an appalling 77 percent during November over the same month last year. Those who follow the police beat say December will put November in the shade. There have been times this month when so many armed thugs were plying their trade not enough police cars were available to answer all the calls from terrified citizens.
Obviously the police need help. And the only place they can receive that help is from the citizenry now at the mercy of the trigger-happy robbers. Police Chief John Layton has announced a new "Signal Ten Project," an organized effort to make citizen assistance to the police more effective. Businessmen are encouraged to study the new “holdup' leaflet being distributed. It contains practical tips on how you and your employees can best assist the police in restoring some semblance of law and order to the streets of Washington.
Just now the forces of law and order in this city seem to be in full retreat.
THE CAPITOL HILL SOUTHEAST CITIZENS AssociaTION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
CRIME AND NEW ANTICRIME LEGISLATION
the robbery and near-murder of one of our most respected business men and similar shootings and robberies throughout the city have again tragically underscored the helplessness of the honest citizen in the face of the now chronic failure to provide social protection against these criminal depredations; and
WHEREAS, from a preliminary study of newspaper summaries of the Crime Commission's report, it would seem the report-comprehensive and far-ranging into sociological analyses as it may be apparently has cautiously skirted the basic nub of the whole matter, which is the question of more direct and stronger deterrents to acts of crime; and
WHEREAS, when stronger deterrents, such, for instance, as were beginning to be formulated in the vetoed anti-crime bill of the last session of Congress, the spokesmen for the various groups-among them, the civil libertarians; the social worker theoreticians with visionary outlooks; the defeated penologists who find no answer but parole, reputation-building “defenders”; and others, together with the soft-psychology bleeding-hearts whose hearts bleed only for the poor criminal”—while his victims are bleeding to their deaths in our hospitals, on our streets, and elsewhere, where they have been attacked-these forces have overridden and drowned out the voice of the decent citizen who has been pleading so desperately and for so long for protection; and
WHEREAS, the attitudes and stymie tactics taken by these individuals and groups have succeeded in immobilizing stronger action against the criminal to the extent that he is now convinced he can continue his criminal career with impunity and with every chance of escaping having to pay an ultimate cost for his law violation; and
WHEREAS, if the report of the Crime Commission—as was indicated by its advance billing-is to be truly the initial step in an open and declared war on crime, this war, to be meaningful, will have to assume, within our own country, the scope and dimensions of an external war, and it has to be possible for prisoners taken in such a crime war to be held in legal custody until the war is over, or until the trend, now running totally against society, has been reversed. It is ridiculous that prisoners taken in any war, including an internal civic one against crime, can, through technicalities or other "outs”, be turned free to immediately again become the enemy; so
WHEREAS, since adequate legislation, including the strongest measures to insure detention of the criminal is the fundamentally solid and critically necessary basis for a new and all-out effort to tilt the scales of justice back in favor of society, as has been so graphically shown in the Washington Star's picturization by Gib Crockett and the supporting editorial covering the release of the crime report on January 1; and as shown by the whole past year of growing citizen and political demands for such legislation; then
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Capitol Hill Southeast Citizens Association petition the Congress that in connection with its projected re-introduction of its last session's anti-crime bill and in any further supplementary legislation that may be contemplated, the Congress set up an investigatory and advisory staff unit of its own that will function for one purpose and one purpose alone: to explore and suggest incorporation of any and all measures for inclusion in the legislation that will make the criminally inclined person finally realize he will no longer be able to continue to "beat the rap” as the Crime Commission report has shown he has been able to do in such an appallingly high percentage of cases heretofore; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the District of Columbia Government and any one responsible for implementing the findings of the Crime Commission's report should be required, through suitable coordinated screening, to give first and top priority to any sections bearing in any way on this single purpose.
(Passed by unanimous vote at the January 5, 1967 meeting of the Association.)
(Article, The Evening Star, Jan. 6, 1967)
By Ronald Sarro, Star Staff Writer The District Crime Commission assured police this week that the authority to question persons both before and after arrest is an important and essential law enforcement tool.
The commission made a key proposal aimed at clearing the cloudy area of how much latitude the police have in handling suspects after arrest. It made no specific proposal on the prearrest period.
But the commission majority rejected the specific hour limits on questioning proposed in the vetoed District omnibus crime bill, as well as the bill's proposals for changing the Durham insanity defense rule.
It said it could find no evidence to "prove or disprove” repeated claims by police that court limits on questioning have helped cause the increase in the city's crime rate, and the decrease in the number of crime cases cleared.
But it concluded that "confessions are not essential to the successful prosecution of the vast majority of cases.” Its final report to President Johnson was laced with statistics to back such conclusions,
Police problems with questioning, and court acceptance of confessions obtained as a result, have stemmed from the Supreme Court's 1957 Mallory and 1966 Miranda decisions.
Under the decisions, courts may admit confessions only if suspects are arraigned without "unnecessary delay" after arrest, and all rights of suspects are fully protected, including the right to an attorney during questioning.
“The commission notes that it has been unable to find satisfactory proof of a casual relationship between the increasing crime rate and restraints on police interrogation,” the crime commission said.
"In the view of this commission, contentions about the effect of the Mallory rule on the decline in the clearance rate are neither proved nor indeed disproved by the available facts," it said.
It said the decrease in the clearance rate might better be attributed to questionable practices in the police department, including duplicate counting of "solved" cases, which the force recently has been eliminating.
The crime commission pointedly directed police to a more important area"total reorganization" of the department—both to better its capacity to curb crime and clear cases. The commission said:
"In particular, we believe that our proposals for reorganization of the Metropolitan Police Department and for improvements in its operations can result in significant increase in the department's capacity to prevent crime and apprehend offenders."
Studying questioning practices in the department's homicide and robbery squads, the crime commission found that despite court limitations, “even under Mallory the police are able to question and obtain admissible statements in a substantial number of cases."
The commission said that in the two squads such questioning normally terminated long before three hours. Of 331 suspects questioned, for 74 percent it was less than an hour and 94 percent less than two hours.
"More than a third of a sample of all felons admitted the crime during such questioning and almost 90 percent of homicide suspects did so," the commission said. It concluded questioning still “plays an important part in law enforcement.”
Statements or admissions "affect the outcome of criminal prosecutions,” the crime commission said, by "substantially increasing the probability of a plea of guilty and increase the conviction ratio to a more limited degree."
In a study of U.S. District Court cases prosecuted between December 1965 and April 1966, “the conviction rate was 74 percent where there was no statement and 77 percent where there was a statement, the crime commission said.
It said confessions or admissions appeared to have an effect on guilty pleas. "The plea rate was 55 percent where there was an admission but only 46 percent where there was no confession or incriminating statement,” the commission reported.
Similar findings were reached in a study of the Court of General Sessions, The report said in nearly half the cases prosecuted in both U.S. District and General Sessions Courts, the defendant made an incriminating statement.
Because the Miranda decision, in which the right to an attorney during police questioning was emphasized, is so recent, the commission said it could make no meaningful evaluation of its effect on questioning. It urged officials to collect the appropriate data.
But it said the commission's "inability to predict the future course of police interrogation does not in any way minimize the need for legislative clarification" of the term “unnecessary delay” and a "legal accommodation between the Mallory and Miranda rules."
The commission urged legislation for the District amending a requirement of presentation of accused persons without "unnecessary delay" in order to give police a “reasonable time” to perform investigations "in strict conformity” to Miranda decision provisions.
The commission recommended that legislation be adopted that would give police authority to move in at least seven areas to complete investigations after making arrests.
The report said the word “reasonable” time was preferable “to a stated time if the law is to do justice. Of course, a stated period of time would make administration of the rule an easier task, but it could be an instrument of injustice in some cases because a time limitation might be fair and reasonable in one context, and unfair and unreasonable in another."
This time element was apparently the only issue on the questioning matter causing a commission split. Four of the commission's nine members favored a six-hour limit on "all delays prior to presentment, regardless of the circumstances."
The vetoed omnibus crime bill also would have set a six-hour limit in legislation that did not spell out the guarantees concerning the rights of accused persons to the extent the crime commission would.
Under the legislation proposed by the crime commission, police would be specifically authorized to accomplish in a "reasonable time" the following:
Booking, fingerprinting, photographing and obtaining an attorney for accused persons; making inquiries of them as to whether they wish to make an explanation concerning accusations against them.
Taking accused persons, if they are willing and consent, to the scene of a crime or related places, to go over how it was committed; checking into the accuracy of statements made by the accused; confronting the accused with victims or victims of similar crimes.
Confronting the accused with physical evidence and alleged witnesses to the crime, or others, including accomplices, who have made statements incriminating the accused.
The crime commission said statements and investigations often help suspects by either freeing them completely, or reducing the seriousness of the charge against them.
The report said the commission's factual studies did “not encompass any evaluation of the police department's present lack of authority to stop suspicious persons on the street for questioning and to arrest or detain them temporarily if their answers are not satisfactory."
The omnibus crime bill included a provision that would have authorized police to detain persons up to four hours without “arrest” if they failed to give satisfactory answers.
"Police interrogation unaccompanied by arrest is a legitimate and indispensible law enforcement tool, and the Supreme Court in its Miranda opinion recognized the moral duty of citizens to cooperate with police in this respect," the crime commission said.
It expressed “concern with reports that citizens in the District are often reluctant to respond to the legitimate inquiries of police officers investigating crimes” and urged them to "cooperate fully.”
The crime commission was split on the Durham rule for insanity defense, which holds that “an accused person is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or mental defect."
The majority held there is "no evidence of widespread injustice under Durham as it presently operates” and does “not appear to offer a readily available opportunity for criminal offenders to escape the consequences of their acts."