Oh Bloody Hell!

City Paper is reporting that the serial robber we’ve been talking about since Friday has accidentally been released.

Unbeknownst to top city authorities, the suspect—who has been identified as Michael Richardson, 18—was released by U.S. Marshals on Friday afternoon, Attorney General Peter Nickles tells City Paper this evening.

He remains at large.

After Nickles pressed for more information on the matter today, he says, police this afternoon discovered that Richardson had been released, and they’ve been searching for him ever since.

I feel like I’m watching a bad movie. Who’s to blame here?

76 Comment

  • well for starters here is the council committee that has oversight over some of these agencies. Have they scheduled hearings on this yet?

    Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary
    Phil Mendelson, Chairperson
    Members: Muriel Bowser, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Yvette Alexander

    The Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary is responsible for matters affecting the judiciary and judicial procedure which are within the authority of the Council; matters affecting decedents’ estates and fiduciary affairs;matters affecting administrative law and procedure;matters affecting criminal law and procedure;matters arising from or pertaining to the police and fire regulations of the District of Columbia; and other matters related to police protection, correctional institutions (including youth corrections), fire prevention, and civil defense.

    The following agencies come within the purview of the committee:

    Advisory Commission on Sentencing
    Board of Appeals and Review
    Child Support Guidelines Commission
    Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure
    Corrections Information Council
    Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
    Department of Corrections
    Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice
    District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency
    District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission
    Fire Department
    Forensic Health and Science Laboratories
    Metropolitan Police Department
    National Guard
    Office of Administrative Hearings
    Office of Unified Communications
    Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
    Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
    Police Complaints Board
    Public Defender Service

  • Theres your answer – Phil Mendelson.

  • Speaking of Phil Mendelson, I’ve seen him at the Columbia Heights WSC gym on a few occasions. Maybe the next time I run into him, I’ll bring up the incident, and emphasize the problem of juvenile crime in the area in general.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Mr. T,

    Seriously, you should! Let me know what he says.


  • Here’s Mendelson’s reply to my email I sent about Mr. Nickles yesterday:

    Dear Mr. XXX, I share your reaction to Mr. Nickles’ quote. Coincidently, one week ago the Council voted on whether to confirm his appointment to be Attorney General. The vote was 7 in favor (Councilmembers Bowser, Catania, Evans, Graham, Schwartz, Wells, and Chairman Gray), 5 opposed (Councilmembers Alexander, Barry, Cheh, Mendelson, and Thomas) and one abstention (Councilmember Kwame Brown). The law creates a presumption that a repeat offender will be held pending trial; it’s up to the prosecutor and the courts to make that happen. Thank you for writing. – Phil Mendelson

  • Phil Mendelson is the exact opposite of a tough-on-crime politician. A Washingtonian magazine article from this summer has some pretty incredible things about Phil Mendelson and his views on dealing with crime in D.C.. For example, see the passage below excerpted from the article:


    In early 2005 then-mayor Anthony Williams proposed reforms to toughen penalties on many crimes, including gun possession. Judiciary Committee chair Phil Mendelson held the bill in his committee for a year and a half.

    Mendelson, 56, came to DC from Cleveland to attend American University. He got a political-science degree, became a local activist, and went to work as a council aide, first to Jim Nathanson and then to chair David Clark. In 1998, Mendelson ran for an at-large council seat in a field of ten candidates in the Democratic primary, won with 17 percent of the vote, and went on to win the general election.

    In 1975 he launched his activist career by saving McLean Gardens on upper Wisconsin Avenue from the wrecking ball. He lives there still with his wife and daughter.

    In giving Mendelson its “lukewarm” endorsement in the last election, the Washington Post called his current term “disappointing” and said his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee was “timid” and “indecisive.”

    When Mendelson finally moved the crime bill, some penalties were strengthened, but he had stripped out most of the mandatory-minimum-sentencing clauses Williams had proposed. Mendelson ignored pleas from police and prosecutors to stiffen the penalties. The effectiveness of mandatory-minimum sentences, directing judges to sentence criminals to specific jail terms, is a matter of debate. But they have been shown to lower crime in cities such as Portland, which has experienced a drop in violent crime since Oregon passed minimum-sentencing laws in 1995.

    “If a drug dealer knew he would face a five-year minimum sentence if he was caught carrying a gun,” says a veteran federal prosecutor in DC, “I guarantee you gun crime would drop dramatically.”

    Says Mendelson: “I don’t believe minimum-sentencing laws are effective.”

    Mendelson also doesn’t believe in holding violent offenders while they are awaiting trial. Mayor Williams had proposed changes in the law that would make it easier for judges to hold suspects. Mendelson stripped the provisions from the bill.

  • This is an absolute joke. First of all, mandatory minimums for violent or repeat offenders are indisputably effective in one sense: they take these people off of our city streets. Also, if you don’t believe in the deterrent power of harsher sentences, that means you don’t believe in our graduated system of criminal justice at all. Obviously, for crimes that threaten the community, we need to do more to deter them. At least SOME criminals, at some level, weight cost / benefit to criminal action, and if teenagers see other teens seriously punished, if guys who carry guys see their buddies in jail for five years, it is going to make an impact. The only solution I can think of is before the next election, learn from Obama and organize a serious grass roots campaign for wholesale change in the city council to at least TRY to address the two biggest problems in this city, none of which anyone in power appears to care about: improving the school system and improving the criminal, and in particular, juvenile justice system. Where has all the revenue from the new condos that have poured into this city over the last five years gone, after all? I also hope a dem-controlled federal gov’t will steer a little more money and attention to DC, at least once the current crisis calms down. I guess we’ll see.

  • By the way, I see he is no longer a juvenile — thank god. Now that he is 18 he better damn well be held pursuant to that civil commitment hearing, that is if they can find him. If he is too mentally impaired to stand trial, yet continues to repeatedly violently assault victims (meaning, apparently, he has no understanding that what he is doing is wrong, so there is no reason to expect him to stop), there is simply no alternative — he is a demonstrated danger to the community and likely himself, which is most jurisdictions is the standard for involuntary commitment. He has to be locked up and treated. If he isn’t, there is just no hope for the DC criminal justice system. I was an A.D.A. in Boston, hardly a conservative bastion, and this NEVER, NEVER would have happened there. Embarassing and pathetic.

  • New2CH,

    I agree, we need a complete renovation of the DC Council. These are mostly politicians-for-life or aspiring ones…..Barry is the obvious example, but do people know how long Jack Evans, David Catania, Jim Graham, and Phil Mendelson have been on the Council? The answers may surprise….

    And guess which Council Member worked to repeal the Council term limits, calling them “undemocratic” (I think Hugo Chavez recently said the same thing). It’s not Barry, BTW.

    Every elected politician considers himself absolutely indispensable and simply needs to be in office forever…for the good of the people, of course…. (see Michael Bloomberg, Hugo Chavez, etc, etc, ad nauseum).

  • so as of last week, Nickles siad that the us attorneys office had decided not to press charges for this 3rd offense because of insufficient evidence…’Channing Phillips, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office, defends that decision. “In our view, there was insufficient evidence to go forward. We were obliged to not go forward,” he says. “I will add, though, if the Office of the Attorney General disagreed…they were free to charge the person themselves.”’ (Teen Robbery Suspect Is Back on the Street
    Posted by City Desk on Nov. 24, 2008, Washington City Paper)

    now what the hell are we supposed to do? i already emailed everyone and their mom about NOT letting this thug go, but whats the point if they werent going to charge him anyway?

  • I absolutely understand why there is so much attention being paid to this one young man — when a police official sends out an email blast saying “write letters, do something” that’s an attention-getting move, for sure.

    But I can’t help but think, now that we’re a few days away from that call to action, that this is not an efficient way of trying to effect change in our communities. For every letter we write on one accused criminal, there’s another one, or two, or a dozen, who are slipping through the cracks on another end. (And that’s not even facing the fact that all the letter writing did nothing in this case – the young man was released.)

    Judging from some of the responses that folks have been getting from council members, I’m seeing a lot of blame-shifting going around, too.

    Like New2CH said very well, I think that we have to keep up pressure for comprehensive changes. We should not be expected to lobby the government or the judges every time an accused criminal is up for release.

  • I lost faith in MPD and the DC justice system long before this. I think it was the Post that did a story a couple years ago about a man who had been arrested over 100 times mostly for burglaries and car break-ins on capital hill and the near northeast communities. Other than a few short stints in lockup he has inexplicably been allowed to roam the streets. If you talk to some officers off the record they will tell you that there are hundreds of cases just like him. criminals who have dozens of arrests yet few if any convictions and little to no jail time. lanier/fenty/nickles shouldn’t be surprised when citizens start to take the law into their own hands

  • You think this kind of foolishness would be allowed in VA? Or if he were robbing people in Chevy Chase? Heck no? There is a reason why? When DC figures it out or is willing to face reality, the city will have a clear vision of how to go about solving the problem.

    I wonder why this boy felt the need to rob so many people. You can only have so many ipods/cellphones/gold chains? You can only come home with so many trappings from your robberies before your mom should take notice.

    That is what strikes me most. This guy had to be coming home to his mom/grandma and they released him into the wild everyday to attack people. Talk about a lack of regard for mankind.

  • Christina – its true that this particular situation is aimed at one case, and that for every case like this there are 10 others, but the focus people are keeping on this is important and if any change comes out of it because that change will apply to all cases.

    That being said, I’ve learned a lot about what the problems are with repeat offenders these last few days. A week ago I would have probably given 80% of the blam to MPD, but now I’m thinking its the AG and council who have to fix this. I’ve always thought Mendelson was way too pinko, but this is forcing me to look at other council members who I respect in a different way. I think we should keep hammering at all of the involved until something really is done.

    Last night I talked to one of the chiefs about this and MPD is basically thrilled that ordinary people are getting a small look at the dysfunction they have seen for years. Its very demoralizing for MPD, which might explain why the just don’t bother half the time.

  • Who is to blame? The kid and his parent(s)!

  • wait a second. he is 18? isnt he an ADULT now?

  • I hear the rumblings of an Anbody-But-Mendelson campaign. When is this guy up for reelection? With such a dismissive attitude towards reality and the legitimate law and order needs of the whole city, he needs to go.

  • Beautifully stated, Nate…

  • I emailed councilman Graham last night about hearings on this, and he is communicating with Mendelson, waiting for his response. Jim Graham offered a number of bills in the last year to combat crime and give police more tools, but Mendelson has lead the opposition to all of them.

  • Hold on a minute! This Phil Mendelson bashing is ridiculous. He’s the BEST member of council we have! Seriously, who’s better?? He conducts real oversight hearings of the city administration, actually cares about getting good results at low cost to the taxpayers, and has no political ambitions beyond serving on council.

    He’s the only politician who has EVER had a yard sign in front of my house.

    Believe me, I am sick to death of repeat offenders and tired as hell of excuses for their behavior. I believe in giving the police the tools they need to help keep our streets safe. But I don’t understand what any of that has to do with Phil Mendelson.

  • Mendolson is also against restricting which commercial areas where guns can be sold in around the City. I was told that the city is trying to allow gun sales only in the most dense downtown commerical zones (ie. K street area as opposed to to neighbhorhood commercial districts like Mnt Pleasant Street) but Mendolson wants sales to be allowed in ANY commercial district. Which theoretically means DC USA could have a gun retailer. I am not trying to fight the supreme court on this anymore, whats done is done. But the city is totally within its legal right to zone uses. This guy sucks but folks in upper NW LOVE him becuase he is always on their side for every issue.

  • Two words: Bernie Getz!

  • Mr. Petworth,

    Perhaps you should read the previous posts… Mendelson is to blame because he consistently blocks efforts to increase prison time for repeat offenders (career criminals). He’s the chair of the relevant committee on the council. That’s why he’s an f-ing asswipe.

  • When the US Prosecutor stated there was “insufficient evidence” it was because they were looking to see if he could be charged as an adult. According to today’s Post article, for a juvenile to be charged as an adult, he must use a weapon in the crime. There was not sufficient evidence that a weapon was used in the robberies he was currently being charged with. The article did say that they were going to charge him as a juvenile, but that due to a “paper work” mistake, the US Marshalls released him. They are now looking for him.

    Perhaps the council should amend the law to make it easier to charge repeat offender juveniles as an adult?

    As for Mendelson, why is everyone pointing fingers at him alone? I have not heard any other city council persons taking a stand. In fact, Kwame Brown refused to even decide whether he would confirm Nickles at all. His only job is to make decisions on these matters and he absolutely failed in doing that. What good is he doing on the council?

  • yatrakarna,

    Mendelson is the problem, because the the law you want, “council should amend the law to make it easier to charge repeat offender juveniles as an adult?” has been blocked by Mendelson!!!! That’s why people here are pissed at him… Every tough on crime measure that comes before the committee is blocked by him! Pay attention.

  • Nate, I don’t want to sound like I’m being mushy about this kid, because I don’t know his situation. But, I do have relatives who aren’t much older than him, and who also have mental health issues. “Fortunately,” my relatives’ mental health issues resulted in more self-destructive behavior than behavior that harmed other people. But I’m just telling you that keeping mentally ill people out of the community is way more easier said than done. You can’t tie them down. You can’t have them “pre-arrested.” Mental health services are extremely hard to come by, especially for teens with a history of violence. And now that this kid has reached majority, no one in his family has any power over him anymore, except a power of persuasion, and we see how well that works.

    I’m not saying that therefore we should just pat this kid on the head and send him about his way. But throwing all of this back on the family without knowing what the family may have tried to do is unfair.

  • E-mails or great, but perhaps we need to legally demonstrate and make some noise in the real world and just not in cyberspace (not criticizing, just mobilizing). Where and when ? I’ll be there.

  • I’m with Geezer… Mendelson’s office????

  • Christina,
    I agree with you. My point puts more of the onus on the parents. There is no way I would allow anyone to live in my home and be a menace to society. There is no way I would allow someone to sell drugs or rob people and bring the fruit of my illegal acts into my home.

    That is not detaining him. That is not prearresting him. That is just explicitly stating what is and is not acceptable in my home.

  • So the Washington City Paper and the Washington Post say that the suspect was judged mentally incompetent to stand trial, and the Washington City Paper says he is mentally retarded. So what to do? The Washington City Paper says End the Witch Hunt

  • Columbia Heights Dude,

    Why don’t you volunteer to write updates about the council and all of Mendelson’s efforts to block the criminal legislation reforms that have been suggested here. We could all benefit from your help in helping us pay more attention.

    Honestly, I did not even realize that a bill was proposed in council to change the juvenile criminal laws to make it easier to charge them as adults. Will you share the bill with us, or at least help me find it?

    My question, though, was what are all the other council persons doing. While Mendelson may share some blame, where is every other council member on this issue? Again, if the rest of the council cared at all, they would be able to push Mendelson.

  • Safe streets and providing services to the mentally retarded should not be competing interests or mutually exclusive.

    I’d guess that most people work during the day and cold only gather for a demonstration in the evenings or weekends, when the council offices are closed. Any other location ideas?

  • yatrakarna,

    As for updates. All you have to do is read Mendelson’s quotes from the Washingtonian article. Fenty’s omnibus crime bill is currently stalled in Mendelson’s committee.

    Yes, the entire council is a joke, but the ringleader (when in comes to crime) is Mendelson.

    What we need is a common sense approach. Tougher sentencing and more funds for mental health, juvenile services, etc… We need the carrot and the stick. Mendelson favor’s a carrot only approach.

  • I think some of this discussion needs to go back to how do we deal with the juvenille justice system in this city. Clearly, a kid like this may be too far gone for rehabilitation. So how do we go back to the roots of the problem. Not the root, but roots. There are so many starting points that a once seemingly innocent child can veer into the life of a burgeoning criminal.

    Everything from family services, youth programs, schools, even the church. Somehow there are basic elements of our society that need to better support these kids and their families so that they stay off the street.

    Law enforcement is the last resort. When we get to this point, it’s usually too late. We need to start moving the line back. Attack the problem at every point. Realizing the sad fact that with some kids it will be a matter of mitigating how much more harm they can do. And keep working on the kids that have a chance.

    We can’t simply wait for the next election and hope that enough change in the council will make a difference. If anything is clear from this discussion, it’s that the council won’t provide a solution.

    As so many people have said time and time again on PoP, the community is the solution. PoP is a good place to start. Keep talking, start organizing, and hit the problem as a community.

    Maybe PoP needs to start putting together some organizing committees, attend more ANC meetings, more PSA meetings. Attack the problem together.

  • There is one root, and only one: parenting. Lazy, immature, felonious people having children and not raising them.

  • anonymous, your email leads me to think that we need to decide if this individual was born like this or nurtured like this. Did neglect create such a monster or was he born this way? If it is more nurture, then we can try to intervene. But if it is a matter of nature, then how do we solve this without draconian measures?

    There are no hard and fast rules on parenting. Therefore, unfit parenting, like cursing and sleeping with man after man, may be detrimental to a child’s development, but is not neglect. This is part of what is breeding these kids with little regards for others. They are growing up in terrible households. You can not police that away.

  • CP, I tend to agree with you. If you are correct, then how do we stop this?

  • The very day I read about this issue here, I also heard Nickles on the Kojo Nnamde show (pre-recorded). Just as I was wishing I could call in to ask about this case, someone else did. Nickles’ response: I don’t know anything about this, please send me an email. So if he’s complaining that he got a bunch of emails about this, my suggestions are: 1) don’t find out about this kind of thing via a call-in radio show, and 2) don’t announce your email address on the air.

    My sense from another segment of the show was, Mendelson and Nickles don’t have a very good working relationship. Mendelson accuses Nickles of lawbreaking of some sort, and Nickles declines to respond, calling the accusation “unhelpful” etc.

    And what you see here is a tremendous amount of buck-passing and blame-shifting. This isn’t the court’s fault or the US Attorney’s, or Nickles’s, or Mendelson’s. It’s the fault of *all* of them, and anyone who fails to own a piece of it is on my sh*t list.

  • “Christina,
    I agree with you. My point puts more of the onus on the parents. There is no way I would allow anyone to live in my home and be a menace to society. There is no way I would allow someone to sell drugs or rob people and bring the fruit of my illegal acts into my home.

    That is not detaining him. That is not prearresting him. That is just explicitly stating what is and is not acceptable in my home.”

    Nate, I don’t think you agree with me. My point is, you can put the onus back on the parents all you want, but I am telling you that there is a limited amount that family can do with a teenager with mental health problems. As I said, you cannot tie the child down. You cannot lock them in the basement. You cannot go to the police and say, “arrest my child, I fear that he will be a danger to society even though he hasn’t done anything yet.” And the services that are available to help such teens are painfully limited.

    You say that you would not have a child with those problems in your home — that’s fine. Where do you think he’s going to be if he is not in your home? Out knocking people in the head and stealing their iPods, that’s where.

    It is very easy to state ultimatums. And I repeat, I’m not suggesting that therefore all this kid needs is a hug. There are serious problems here. But just saying “I wouldn’t let a child of mine be in my home and act like that!” doesn’t make the problem go away. When the kid isn’t in your home, he’s *somewhere.*

  • Oh, and to Cliff, who said “Christina – its true that this particular situation is aimed at one case, and that for every case like this there are 10 others, but the focus people are keeping on this is important and if any change comes out of it because that change will apply to all cases.”

    I agree with you. I just would want to caution that we don’t focus so much on this one young man that we forget that he is merely a symptom of a dysfunctional system. Let’s just say that this one person is arrested and sent to jail for 300 years or something…that’s one person, and that’s great, but the problems are systemic.

  • Nate and CP – When the local and Federal Government continue paternalistic treatment of thier citizens this will not end. The adults in this city are treated as childern with no accountability or responsibility. Nate – in response to my question yesterday you stated that the City Council’s unwillingness to enact tougher laws on juvenile justice is related to not wanting to see more young black men arrested. I am sorry, but that is sad. That attitude is prolonging an eqidemic. I strive to not see things in terms of race and I think it is time the african american community did the same. If you violte the law, you are punished under the law. Period. How pathetic is it that Michelle Rhee has to suggest parenting classes to get school violence under control (I think its a smart idea). Unless something is done, there will be another generation of african american men in the District who are ignorant, uneducated and unemployable and will be a burden to the city. Its time for tough love.

  • Okay folks, thanks for those of you who e-mailed me with your responses from council over the last few days, such as they were. That e-mail is “[email protected]”, BTW.

    First off, Mendelson is the only one who has e-mailed anyone back about either this particular juvenile case or inquiries about stiffening the gun laws (related to the Petworth shootings last month). He has also agreed to meet to discuss, specifically, what council can and should do (rather than another “MPD update” fiasco like the last meeting). Mendelson has also pledged to vote to remove the “operability” requirement from the gun possession law, which will make it easier for MPD and the prosecutors (i.e. they don’t have to prove a gun works to make the case).

    This is a start.

    So let’s take a step back. Mendelson definitely has to stand by his record, and frankly, his record with regard to stiffening criminal sanctions leaves a lot to be desired. Calling him an “asswipe” is probably not going to bring him around to the right conclusions, and he’s gonna be one of our representatives for a few years (Oden in 2010!), so if we want to get some real developments out of council we need to temper some of our anger. This is not to say I don’t understand it, or that I haven’t myself engaged in hyperbole, but at least Mendelson is moving in the right direction.

    Bowser, on the other hand, is still hiding. As far as I know she has not responded to anyone. Perhaps it’s been a busy 9 days since I first e-mailed her and her staff, but I am *beginning* to think I am being ignored.

    Regardless, Mendelson has agreed to meet to discuss what council can do about these issues.

    I tend to agree with the sentiment that focusing on this one juve case is a distraction. I personally haven’t e-mailed Nickles. But I understand the concern. I just think we need to be systematic about the responses and the goals. As I’ve stated before my immediate goal is to get a commitment either way from Bowser and Mendelson about altering the gun laws in the city to include provisions now in draft form but not passed and also a proposal to add a mandatory minimum punishment for repeat gun possession. For comparison, in NYC you get 3 ½ years minimum at Attica for possessing a loaded weapon the FIRST time, so we’ve got a long way to go before we are even slightly tough.

    To do that I have asked them, now, about 5 different ways and I am trying to secure a public meeting with them so we can ask them face to face.

    It’s proving difficult, no doubt, but I’m not ready to start shouting “asswipe” just yet.

    I’ll keep you posted.

  • I spoke with people connected to this situation. The suspect is not mentally ill per se, but he is not capable of understanding the severity of what he’s doing. It would not make sense, for this reason, to charge him as an adult as a teenager because he doesn’t comprehend what he’s doing. How do I say this, he has an exceptionally low IQ to the point where he doesn’t comprehend rules. Psychiatry won’t change this.

    This does not change how I feel about this case as a lightning rod for the community and how it, on top of the Washingtonian piece, should reflect how we choose future councilmembers.

    But I think this information helps us understand what’s going on and the conflict better.

  • Steve,
    I agree with you. My point is that this issue is so much bigger than law enforcement or minimum sentences. This issue has race, entitlement, and class all tied in. That makes it difficult to solve because it involves really being candid about some issues that would get some people voted out of office.

    Before Fenty ran for office, there was rumbling that Evans or one of the white councilmen would run. Politicos talked him out of it because of his race. The Post reported on this. That shows you that politics are partly driven out of the need to acquiesce to the blacks in DC. So when it shows up on a school campus, parents respond that Rhee should better understand the “beefs” in the community.

    Not much good policy can come out of feeling the need to smooth life long grievances. And when it comes to the justice system, black people have some long held grievances. They manifest themselves in ways like this. Note that there is a man that escaped from a halfway house and killed his girlfriend in SE. The article is in today’s post. Yet, you hardly hear any outrage from SE about this.

  • oden, i posted the reply that i got from bowser yesterday on a diff post. pretty generic, not that helpful at all…

  • Nate, I don’t think you agree with me. My point is, you can put the onus back on the parents all you want, but I am telling you that there is a limited amount that family can do with a teenager with mental health problems. As I said, you cannot tie the child down. You cannot lock them in the basement. You cannot go to the police and say, “arrest my child, I fear that he will be a danger to society even though he hasn’t done anything yet.” And the services that are available to help such teens are painfully limited.

    Well. this is the DC problem. When I grew up, of course I knew many such people. These were the kids who, by age 11 and 12, were disruptive every day at school. So in Junior High one kid got sent to military school. Then in High school many of these kids got sent to Sandy Spring Friends School. Other kids got sent to a Vermont “clean up” Prep school. That’s where some of these kids need to get sent, but my question is why aren’t these parents sending their kids to military school in Junior High if they’re out of control?

    Tuition costs? Knowledge or family experience with private schools? Acknowledgment that a problem even exists?

  • Nate:

    So when it shows up on a school campus, parents respond that Rhee should better understand the “beefs” in the community.

    I have to quote this to repeat this. PARENTS and DC TEACHERS have recommended in a dozen blogs and online boards that MICHELLE RHEE MADE A SERIOUS MISTAKE BY NOT LETTING GANGS CONTROL HER POLICY DECISIONS!


    Neither Nate and I are wrong, we’ve both seen this repeated multiple times.

  • Nate: Once again you bemoan the unchangable state of DC and provide, right in your diatribe, an example that flattens your argument. While Rhee has caught a lot of flack she is moving forward with all her plans, now isn’t she? And what’s more, she’s getting results that have evaded prior administrators. While DCPS has a long, long, long way to go I challenge you to say this isn’t progress when the proficiency level for elementary students rose 11% in math and 8% in reading, while the level for secondary students went up 9% percentage points in reading and math over 2007.

    “But how can it be?!? This is DC after all!”

    Also, you don’t have to believe that changing the laws and holding people accountable for gun crime will make a difference, even in the face of a myriad of metrics that show mandatories have a proven track record, just stay out of the way and moan from the sidelines.

  • Oden,
    The asswipe thing was a bit much…. calming down. I’m down with Oden in 2010. Is the community invited to the Mendelson meeting? Perhaps we should do some draft legislation, or at least bullet points. I think we can tie it into the Council’s upcoming legislation addressing the Heller decision.

  • Neener Says:
    That’s where some of these kids need to get sent, but my question is why aren’t these parents sending their kids to military school in Junior High if they’re out of control?
    Simple. Welfare. A child is like an income stream to a welfare mother. A family of 3 gets roughly $600/mo in food stamps. The same family also gets a 2-3 BR home for free on Sec 8. If the mom knows the system, she can get a check (SSI) for the child by saying he is mentally disabled. That is a nice sum of money for not doing much. You will hold on to your children for dear life. Not because you love them. But for the money.

    Now this behavior is rewarded by giving the woman a bigger house if she has another child. More food stamps. Another potential SSI check. Plus, there are hundreds of organizations that pay all their utilities.

    Kinda f’d up huh? My mom was a social worker for 25 years. She saw 3 generations of the same families. I have been seeing this cycle as a landlord for the past 6.

  • I checked with someone whose kid is at Valley Forge after an incident and he said that Valley Forge, a very typical clean up place for DC area kids, is about $21k per year. So yes, I suppose if Mom is making $40k as a secretary and Dad’s making $45k as an electrician, it’s not going to be any picnic spending $21k on Junior.

  • Neener – You sayd “I am telling you that there is a limited amount that family can do with a teenager with mental health problems.” That is complete load of crap and a total copout. There are mental health resources available for kids like that. It takes parent who care and seek the help. I doubt this kid’s parent give a rats ass about him, which probably compounds the mental health issues. In addition, if the parents wanted to they could have him institutionalized. I believe that in DC the individual must be cound to be a threat to him self or the public….well duh -he is clearly a threat to the public.

  • There is a recall process if Mendelson or any other council member were blocking crime legislation.


    But it requires signatures from 10% of registered voters in 180 days. For a City Wide position, it requires at least 10% of the voters from 5 of the 8 wards.

  • I understand the outrage over the release of this dirt bag, but I dont see why the anger is being directed at Phil Mendelson and the DC Council. According to news reports, the US Marshals Service f%*&’d up here – not the DC Jail or Phil Mendelson.

    Please vent in the right direction.

  • Tony B,

    I think this is explained somewhere above, but most people are pissed at the council generally and Mendelson in particular because they refuse to produce legislation that provides substantial punishment for crime. The present weak legislation creates a system in which M.A.R., and many others, are released without punishment by the DC criminal justice system despite compelling evidence that they repeatedly commit violent crimes.

    But you’re right. In this case the US Marshals are particularly to blame.

  • Tony B, you’re coming in during the middle of this are are wrong. There are many threads about Phil’s personal responsibility here over the last two weeks.

  • who can I e-mail?? What can I do????!!!!! am I really reading that that suspect is walkin around???? I e-mailed the entire city council yesterday and Mr Nickles and got these 2 responses:

    “Agree with your concerns – we will do our best to address them”

    “Thank you for your comments. Our office will share information when it is available.
    Brandon Todd, Office of Councilmember Muriel Bowser”

    This may be a way to vent frustration but tonight there is a community patrol tonight thru columbia heights tonight:

    Residents and Guardian Angels Patrol of Columbia Heights, Tuesday November 25th
    Guardian Angels And Residents Patrol Columbia Heights
    When: Tuesday November 25th, 7-9 PM
    Where: Let’s meet at 14th & Otis, in front of the Black Lion Market

    We will be accompanied by members of the officers from MPD-3D.

    Please wear comfortable shoes and bring a flashlight, pen and pad, and camera (optional). Invited guests include Councilman Graham, Inspector Delgado, members of Mayor Fenty’s office, and ANC Commissioners.

  • CHdude: Mendelson agreed to come to any public meeting to discuss these issues. No word yet on when that meeting would be. But when there is, you’ll know.

  • To Steve:

    “Neener – You sayd “I am telling you that there is a limited amount that family can do with a teenager with mental health problems.” That is complete load of crap and a total copout. There are mental health resources available for kids like that. It takes parent who care and seek the help. I doubt this kid’s parent give a rats ass about him, which probably compounds the mental health issues. In addition, if the parents wanted to they could have him institutionalized. I believe that in DC the individual must be cound to be a threat to him self or the public….well duh -he is clearly a threat to the public.”

    You’re bashing Neener, but I’m the one who said that there is a limited amount that a family can do with a teenager with mental health problems. Neener was quoting me. And what I’m saying is not a “total copout.” Why don’t you go back and read my posts?

    I’d engage with you more on that issue and your damaging assumptions, but obviously you already know all the answers — the parents are complete assholes. What is probably *more* likely is that the parents have mental health issues themselves, or just don’t know how to access services, or that services are not available — I’m telling you, I have LIVED THIS. I very much doubt that the parents did every single thing they could, but it’s not an easy road to walk, either. And if you’ve seen the state of DC institutions, you would resist institutionalizing your kid, too.

    There sure are a lot of people making pronouncements here who have never had to deal with the very real situation of having a kid, having a kid who is mentally ill or mentally retarded or violent, and having to navigate the landscape of mental health services.

    Anyway, if it makes you feel better to put everything on the parents, Steve, have at it. I just don’t want you to blame the wrong person for something I said.

  • Phil Mendelson is the type of liberal that gives liberals a bad name.

  • not sure if this has already been posted:

    Police Search for Columbia Heights Mugging Suspect

    (says it was posted last night)

  • Apologies to Neener. Chirstina – I would agree the state of mental health treatment is a joke. We are just now sort of coming to a point where people with illnesses can talk about them (I live it too).

    That being said this individual is dangerous and should be in some sort of custody. This is the sort of think that got VA Tech in trouble. These are cracks that people with these issues cannot be allowed to fall through.

  • We agree on that one. Someone in one of these long threads said that this young man had been in a group home and had run away. (I’m sorry I can’t remember where that was said.)

    We have a balancing act here — balancing people’s freedom against the community’s right not to be harmed. When someone has committed multiple crimes and cannot be controlled in a safe environment for his and our own good, the system has broken down.

  • Keep in mind the numbers here folks. A guy like this one, or the VA Tech shooter, is the anomaly. That is not to say juvenile justice reforms that benefit the kids as well as protect the public are not long overdue, it’s just to say we ought to keep our eyes on the ball with regard to the offenders and offenses we most need to address.

    Gun crime eats the soul out of this city. Long before I ever thought I’d live here (let alone want to) what did I know about DC? What did you all know about DC before you came here? The devastating salient fact about DC for the last 30 years is murder. Murder committed almost exclusively with handguns on the cold streets of this town.

    To me we can all be outraged that there is no place for this young fellow, we can get in a snit that kids in general misbehave at a rate we deem different from our days as lil’ scoundrels[*], but to me the most important thing we could do for ourselves and our city is stop the killing as best we can.

    To me one way, not the only way, but one way is to raise the cost so high that some, not all, but some people will decide not to carry a gun around. If the guns are less around, we’re making progress. Guns often make both silly situations and hostile situations into deadly situations.

    The second step is to focus on the people (mostly young men) that are caught with guns for the first time and throw all the supervision, butt-kicking, and assistance we can toward them because once thing we know for sure, those that commit the crimes we are most concerned with do so with handguns.

    That’s all this cracker is sayin’.

    [*] The numbers don’t support the “juvenile crime wave!” that’s been predicted, oh, since I was listening to Ozzy and smoking banana peels. Juvenile (10 to 17 years old) crime has totaled only 16-18% of crime, steadily, since the 1970’s. Only 4% of all juvenile arrests are for violent offenses, overall that’s waaaay less than 1% of all crime that is violent crime committed by juveniles. But go ahead and believe the hype about ever other kid in DC being a dead-eye killer if you want. Everyone’s got stories after all, and what are the facts in the face of “DC’s vacant children of doom” chonicles?

  • Odentex,
    Rail all you want. Guns are going nowhere. If for no other reason than DC has shown it is unwilling to prosecute criminals and inable to keep criminals off the street. For those of us that want to protect ourselves, a gun is out best option. You have nothing to worry about with me having a gun. I’m not going to rob or shoot you.

    Your argument is wackier than my argument on drugs. Guns are going nowhere. Drugs are not either. So it is best if you approach the issue with some reasonable solution instead of continuously blaming an inanimate object.

    A gun is just the most effective object to murder someone. Plenty of people have also been killed by pipes (Rosenbaum), bricks, frying pans, and bare hands. If you are a person with a disposition to get angry enough to shoot someone, odds are you may also use your bare hands to inflict damage assumng a gun isn’t handy.

  • And of course the City Council will never deal with the legal basis for that because those young and predominantly african american men are their consituents and will wind up in jail. Not a way to earn votes eh? How long will folks put up with this stagnation?

  • Steve Says:

    November 25th, 2008 at 4:48 pm
    And of course the City Council will never deal with the legal basis for that because those young and predominantly african american men are their consituents and will wind up in jail. Not a way to earn votes eh? How long will folks put up with this stagnation?
    Technically, not many of these young men are voting. But their mothers and grandmothers vote. Flooding any of these neighborhoods with police in Wards 4,5,7,8 would be disaster for the black politicians. Many of these people do not trust police. It would only take a Sean Bell/Diallo type shooting to get one of these black politicians voted out of office. As it stands now, you hear very little grumbling from the blacks in the aforementioned wards about the killings. So why would Bowser, Barry, Thomas, Kwame, or Alexander do anything about it when most of their constituent concerns are about the basics: paying a utility bill or paying rent?

    You are asking these members to respond to an issue that is a nonissue to their core constituents. Same can be said for members like Cheh, Evans, and Mendelsohn for wholly different reasons. Their constituents, by and large, do not see violence as an issue. They represent mostly liberals that are content with taking creative approaches to rehabbing these teens (Shakespeare) as long as they commit their crimes east of Rock Creek Park. Can you imagine if Schiraldi lived in G’town and the youth escaped from his home while trying to learning Shakespeare? Those people would be outraged.

  • Odentex, your last message advocates keeping our eye on the ball, while doing the exact opposite. How is gun control related to the current situation? Were there ever any guns involved?

  • Nate, please tell me you are joking about Shakespeare study being a criminal rehabilitation treatment. Is that really being done here?

  • To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time,
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing

  • Anon: I think you’ve missed a lot of what’s been discussed before, but yes, getting guns off the street is more important than e-bombing Nickles and bemoaning a freak case and then, as normal, forgetting about it when the next coffee shop opens. Worrying about this kid’s case and fretting about changing an entire juvenile justice system (which needs changing, no doubt) is *definitely* taking your eye off the ball in a city where the average sentence for repeat possession of a firearm is usually time served.

    We have to start somewhere, and one obvious somewhere is the gun laws which cannot hold up to ANY scrutiny. Ultimately, why should kids have any respect for the law when the likes of Nate don’t either? How do we get Nate and some gun-toting children to obey the law? Make the price of poker too high.

    Nate: You are so sure a change in the law can’t make any difference, eh? I bet I know of at least one person who won’t risk carrying a weapon illegally if he knew that he’d get a mandatory year in “I love my cellmate Nate” prison.

  • Nate: Also, no one is talking about “flooding” anything. What I am suggesting that when a fellow gets arrested for carrying a weapon for the 2nd, 5th, or 10th time that instead of being released with time served he get a mandatory puishment to discourage him carrying a weapon illegally.

    If you want to work for a concealed carry law in DC, go ahead, be my guest. But until that day I must insist that the best course is for everyone to FOLLOW THE LAW.

  • # Anonymous Says:
    November 25th, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Odentex, your last message advocates keeping our eye on the ball, while doing the exact opposite. How is gun control related to the current situation? Were there ever any guns involved?

    Odentex is talking about guns because last week (or was it two weeks ago?) we had a lengthy discussion on this board where we talked about DC’s lax gun laws. It was a conversation that grew out of a recent community meeting on shootings in Petworth.

    Since then, Oden and others have been trying to get folks to focus on trying to address gun issues. This recent dust up about this young man and his multiple arrests is an unrelated issue.

    To Nate: I don’t understand why you are trying to make everyone else feel as hopeless as you do. Anytime anyone writes anything about crime, you’re right there to say is that the person should be put down like a dog because they aren’t even human; black people don’t have any sense and love crime; criminal’s parents are horrible and if it were you, you wouldn’t put up with it; or anything that we say or do or think in positive response won’t help because the entire world is going to hell because people won’t raise their kids right yadda yadda yadda ON AND ON. It’s the same thing, every single time.

    I don’t mean to sound flip, I’m deadly serious: why are you such a downer? Why do you shoot down (heh) any and all suggestions that don’t involve giving up? What do you think that people should do if they don’t want to just vent on a message board, and carry a gun?

  • Christina,
    I am pessimist because I do not think the root of the problem has ever been addressed. I have seen this city just throw money at the problem, hoping that would solve it. School plan after school plan. Rec centers. Summer “job” boondoggles. Paying them to behave in school. Yet, noone ever questions if it is the parents and the dysfunctional households that these people live in that contributes to the crime and violence in our community. That can not be addressed at a rec center or through direct deposit.

    I would not doubt that a lot of this denial has to do with the prickly nature of criticising a certain group of people. The school issue showed you just how warped the thinking of some of our residents. The parents and a school board administrator (Lockridge) chastising Rhee because she should have never combined schools with warring “crews” speaks volumes to the level of dysfunction in this city.

  • I challenge, Nate, that there is no government role in the management of parents until crimes are committed and CFSA and the juvenile justice system step in to address that. Prior to that the government does not have a role except to promote good parenting. Seriously, the government has no role in monitoring parental involvement where no crime has been committed. I will not have anyone address whether or not I’m a fit parent when nothing has gone wrong yet.

    First off people bring up parenting all the time. It’s not that no one questions it, it’s that it cannot be proactively managed.

    I’ve spoken to single professional mothers in the past and they absolutely, positively have to get past the issue that their child’s father is not in the picture. For community observers and leaders to continually bemoan the amount of single parents out there or the lack of involvement by fathers is just idiocy. That ship sailed in 1978 and it’s never going back. You can probably fix a future generation’s willingness to stay married, but you cannot change the lives of children today by suggesting that Dad take them bowling one more sunday afternoon. What needs to happen is for community organizations to address the issue knowing that the absentee fathers are not involved now and will not be involved in the future. Bemoaning that situation does nothing, but accepting that situation will not change so what do you do after you acknowledge it won’t change. Do you finance the boy scouts? Do you have a mandatory big brother program? Do you improve DCPS After-Care? Do you hold a meeting of church leaders to address it? Whatever needs to be done, needs to be done without pointing fingers at the absentee fathers on the street or in jail who hoist a finger in return.

    But we both know what the real issue is. The issue is no different if you’re talking about Trinidad or Bed-Stuy or South Philly or a trailer park in West Virginia. My mother grew up in a rural area where her family was the only family to value education and everyone else got wrapped up in drinking/honky tonks/fighting, hunting/fixing their car/fixing their house or religion/politics/hatred. When she returned for her high school reunion she was the only person out of the entire class who put vegetables on her plate at the buffet. The only person out of 100 or so survivors. The love of crime and criminals is the problem. This community may not have the bad arteries of Apalacian culture, but they have the same disregard for education. They have the same love of guns.

    I do not believe that this can be solved for good by the government, but I sure would like to see our community pay for advertising posters that shame people into going to graduate school or shame them into applying for a better college if they’re stuck in Strayer.

Comments are closed.