There’s been a lot of grandstanding over the pending crime bill. Mendo has been particularly targeted in silly ways—at a press conference and at recent hearing. Now comes Muriel Bowser on Kojo with her own bit of fear mongering. (She’s BSing right now! on gangs). Bowser argues that the police need better tools in dealing with gangs. Her argument is completely uninformed, straight-up Palin-esque politics.
Yes. Gangs are scary. But D.C. has plenty of tools already on the books. The District does not need to go into civil court with these new crime-bill tools. The Feds have long used RICO to take gangs off street corners. They’ve been quite successful. RICO is scary, too. Gang leaders like Kevin Gray and Tommy Edelin have found that out. Death penalty cases are now part of D.C.
There are also already civil tools the city has used like nuisance property laws that can target crack houses and shut them down. The results have been mixed. Innocent families have been targeted based on flimsy evidence.
There are also plenty of stay-away orders issued every day in D.C. Superior Court. It’s now almost automatic for drug-related defendants (dealers and users) to be given a stay-away order from the area in which they were busted. So I’m not sure that the proposed civil court weapons are necessary.
There are some great things in the crime bill particularly aimed at stalkers. But the gang stuff seems redundant and wrongheaded. These amount to quick fixes that aren’t very imaginative. Gang laws are already on the books, police and residents just need to use them in consistent and just ways.