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Chief Superior Court Judge Lee F. Satterfield doesn’t like the fact that Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham has been posturing about the inadequacy of D.C.’s juvenile justice system via listserv.
In an email to Ward 1 ANC commissioners, Satterfield accuses Graham of playing the blame game. Graham apparently wants his constituents to believe the court goes easy on juvenile offenders. “In his email, in reference to a particular case, CM Graham said that judge after judge did not ‘take charges seriously enough’ and that ‘one of the reasons we have such a high level of youth violence in this city is this: Young criminals think they have nothing to fear from the courts…'”
Indeed, reviewing the email, Graham hits D.C. judges hard, implying he has proof they take youth crime lightly.
“This week I reviewed the arrest and other records of an 18 year old man (now charged with murder). It was a sorry tale of offense after offense between the age of 14 and 18. Judge after judge did not take the charges seriously enough. If the public could see these records, there would be such a public outcry against how our criminal prosecution system works with youthful offenders.”
Satterfield goes on to say Graham is full of it. In most situations, he says, the courts’ hands are tied as far as young offenders are concerned:
“DC law does not provide the Court with any authority over youth committed to the custody of the city. Family Court judges who find a juvenile ‘involved’ in a crime (the DC Code’s nomenclature for guilt), have but two options: put the youth on probation, which the court’s juvenile probation officers monitor and over which the judges have control, or, if the judge thinks probation is not sufficient, the judge can commit the youth to the city at which point the court loses all authority over the youth including the authority to securely detain a youth.”
Satterfield says he finds Graham’s blaming troubling and that “No system is perfect, including the court system. However, we make every effort to meet the needs of all residents in the community that we serve, consistent with our mandate to provide justice for all.” Burn.