We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine may be on his way out of public office—he announced late last year that he’ll return to private practice and not seek a third term—but not before he responds to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s comments about the rise in carjackings, especially those involving D.C. youth.
Between 2020 and 2021, the number of carjackings in D.C. increased 300 percent, and Bowser was quick to blame Racine and his office for a perceived lack of prosecution. “Know that the executive doesn’t prosecute; the District’s Attorney General is solely responsible for the prosecution of juvenile offenses,” Bowser wrote in a constituent newsletter late last month.
In interviews with Fox 5 and WJLA yesterday, Racine adjusted the narrative. Yes, carjackings are up, but overall juvenile crime is down 51 percent from 2019 to 2021, and violent juvenile crime is down 46 percent over the same period, according to data OAG provided City Paper.
“[Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee are] giving you anecdote, sensationalism, and fear, and then they’re finger pointing instead of taking responsibility for perhaps closing on the hundreds of carjacking incidents that haven’t been brought to our office,” Racine told WJLA’s Sam Ford. OAG data shows that while 426 carjacking incidents were reported in 2021, the police made only 149 arrests related to those incidents. One hundred of those arrests were of children, but it’s unclear how arrests equate to incidents.
During a press conference last week where Bowser and Contee joined Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and her police chief, Malik Aziz, Bowser and Contee again called for accountability for those under 18 accused of crimes. City leaders said some kids commit crimes in PG County and in the District. And they pointed fingers at other cogs in the criminal justice system, claiming that kids are arrested, released, and then commit more crimes.
“Where are these young people right now?” Contee said. “They’re in the community. I assure you they are in community and when they are in community it becomes very difficult to ensure accountability happens the way it’s supposed to happen. Let me tell you something. Playtime is over. This is not a video game, this is not a game where we’re playing chicken, and we’re gonna figure out what it is we need to do.”
But asked by NBC4 reporter Mark Segraves to provide data to support their claims, Bowser and other leaders dodged the question. “As we look back over the last couple of years, some [kids] have been repeat offenders,” Contee replied. “But in terms of what that number is, maybe we can share that information a little later.”
This week, Racine’s office released some of that data for fiscal year 2021, which runs from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021. OAG data shows that only 7 percent of the 108 youth arrested for carjacking in FY 2021 had a previous charge. OAG also broke out a sample of 80 kids who were charged at least six months ago. Of those 80 kids, 14 reoffended with another carjacking, according to OAG.
Racine is due to testify at OAG’s performance oversight hearing this afternoon, where many of these questions are likely to come up. Hear what he has to say on the D.C. Council’s website.
—Mitch Ryals (tips? email@example.com)
Caroline Jones contributed reporting.
- To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
- D.C. police arrested a 16-year-old in connection to bomb threats to D.C. public schools Tuesday and Wednesday. [NBC4]
- Police are investigating four shootings that took place over a 20-minute period yesterday afternoon, killing one woman in Northeast and injuring several people across the District. [WUSA9]
- How student journalists at the Eagle found out American University was unknowingly distributing fake COVID-19 masks. [Washingtonian]
- Meet Manny the Akita, one of the heroes in D.C.’s rat war. [Axios D.C.]
By Ambar Castillo (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
A new report from D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson titled “Seventy-One Percent of Auditor Recommendations In […]
- The D.C. DMV is so bad at collecting data that the District could soon be kicked out of a multi-state program that works to check the quality of voter rolls. [DCist]
- The discovery of an unexploded shell that dates back to World War I in Fort Totten has local officials calling for an investigation. It could be connected to a chemical weapons dump in Spring Valley that has required years of cleanup. [WTOP]
By Alex Koma (tips? email@example.com)
- Shōtō, a high-end Japanese restaurant, opens downtown this week. [Washingtonian]
- Chef Alfredo Solis’ latest restaurant, Mariscos 1133, debuts in Shaw. [Eater DC]
By Laura Hayes (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
The artist Lou Stovall was born in Athens, grew up in Springfield, and studied at […]
- “The whole story is about how hard it is to live without the language to express your identity, and how powerful it is to find that language and to be seen as you truly are,” says Maia Kobabe, author of Gender Queer: A Memoir, the graphic novel causing controversy in Loudon and Fairfax counties that discusses the importance of queer representation for LGBTQ youth. [NoVA Magazine]
- How Black Opry, created in Virginia 10 months ago, is changing country music and creating stages for Black artists. [Post]
- With two new exhibits, Howard University’s Gallery of Art has reopened to the public. [Informer]
By Sarah Marloff (tips? email@example.com)
- The NFL says the league and not the Washington Commanders will oversee the independent inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations against Dan Snyder. [ESPN]
- The 15th-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team has won six straight games. [Diamondback]
- Clarksburg High School junior guard Riley Nelson stands out as a nationally ranked girls’ basketball recruit that is playing for a local public high school team. [Post]
By Kelyn Soong (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)