Two Recent Sentencing Terms for Burglaries

Photo by flickr user the_kid_cl

From MPD 3D:

1)Wayne Bridgeforth was sentenced to 4 years plus 1 year for his parole violation. 5 years is very good in that he’s received 1 to 2 years for previous similar crimes. We had 5 Community Impact Statements (last I heard). I went down to the sentencing hearing to testify this morning.

2) Craven Kemp got 22 months. He admitted to 12 burglaries. We got in 4 or 5 Community Impact Statements. I can’t say I find that as just; that’s less than 2 months per burglary. He does have a shorter record of convictions.

Thanks to the community members who allowed MPD to set up a sting operation in their house. Thanks to MPD for that effort and the rest of their efforts. Thanks to US Attorneys Anita LaRue and Stephan Rickard their efforts – especially in working with the Community Impact Statements. Thanks to CM Phil Mendelson for passing a provision in the last Omnibus Crime Act that allows continued minor offenses to be prosecuted as felonies. Lastly, many thanks to all those who wrote Community Impact Statements.

If you ever think dramatizations of court room scenes capture the real life drama, head to a sentencing hearings room next time you get called for jury duty. MPD makes over 50,000 arrest a year. That 15 minute sentencing hearing on the conveyer belt of justice is real drama particularly in the moments the judge hands down that sentence and the moment the convicted is lead off to jail.

One victim responds:

As a victim of a Burglary 1 where I was face to face with the burglar in my home, I am appalled by the sentencing of someone who committed 12 burglaries to just 2 months for each offense. My life and my health are forever altered by an individual’s actions crashing into my home. For such actions, a person would only get two months in jail makes me sick!

43 Comment

  • 22 month is equivalent to an endorsement for burglary as a full time job.

  • 2months per burglary. that’s not justice.

  • The second kid’s going to change his name to Craven Soap-Onarope pretty soon.

  • The judge should be removed.

  • Encountering a burglar in my home is one of my greatest fears. I’m so sorry this happened to you. The sentencing doesn’t seem right, but I’ve been under the impression that not much effort goes into catching burglars. Glad to know that’s not true.

    • Unfortunately the MPD does not take burglary seriously at all. Same appears to apply to sentencing. Some places you actually go to jail for a long time for this stuff

    • The only time I’ve served on a jury it was for a burglary case. The house was under renovation in SE and items stolen were of such little value that it felt like a waste of time and resources to have all of us engaged in a three-day trial. Turns out that the house was owned by a MPD officer.

      Anyway, the case against the guy was so weak that I wondered if it were some kind of practice trial for the two lawyers–both were pretty young. We deliberated for half a day and found him not guilty.

  • jim_ed

    Don’t forget, with good behavior, they’ll be back and breaking into your homes again in half the time!

  • craven (according to merriam-webster): lacking the least bit of courage : contemptibly fainthearted

  • Parole hearing in 9 months, out in 18.

    • There is no parole anymore in this jurisdiction. Prisoners serving time of over 365 days will do approximately 85% of their time assuming they receive full credit for good behavior.

      And no, 22 months for 12 burglaries is not enough.

  • We need death sentences for robbery. Public hangings on the Mall would clean this city up real quick.

  • Glad to see this after the comments from the other day requesting sentencing follow-up.

    As for the burglaries, I’m presuming no one was injured, and I’d rather focus resources (including jail space) on violent crimes. That said, he should have gotten more than 22 months.

    • Agreed. I am so sorry the victim had to go through an event like that. It’s entirely possible the situation could have devolved into a violent crime. But, without violence, I feel a tinge uncomfortable with someone demanding a person be locked up until they are no longer sick to their stomach.

      Something like this has never happened to me. I fully admit I have very little understanding of what it would feel like to be burglarized.

    • I agree with you – to a point. This guy may not have physically attacked anybody, but he has done irreparable damage to innocent people. Once you’ve found a burglar in your home, you will never sleep the same way again. It itself, that’s a form of violence.

    • Any burglary is a half a second’s rash decision away from violence. The idea that there are “non violent” house burglars is a myth.

    • my house was burglarized a few years back when I lived near Lincoln Park. They stole a lot of stuff and made our lives hell for a while but didnt physically hurt anyone. Luckily, they were caught and we got a good deal of our stuff back. While out on bail, one of the burglars raped a minor. So… While I am not generally one to believe in gateway crimes, I do think that focusing on the small stuff helps keep bad people off the streets and from committing big stuff. If they think they can get away with robbing someones house they are a lot more likely to figure they can get away with something a lot worse as well.

      Also, anyone who thinks that getting your house burglarized isnt at least a somewhat traumatic experience, hasnt had it happen to them.

  • Yep, this is probably a stupid question, but can someone explain how sentencing happens in DC and the extent to which judges have flexibility? In other words, does DC law mandate a certain period for particular crimes and judges have the ability to sentence within those guidelines? Is it the city council that comes up with the guidelines?

    As you can tell, I’m not in law enforcement.

    • Very few crimes in DC have mandatory minimum sentences. DC uses a score sheet/sentencing guidelines. The guidelines take into account criminal history, nature of the crime, and various other factors to produce a recommended sentence. These guidelines are not mandatory, a judge does not have to stay within them, but a judge does have to give a reason for departing from them.

  • We’d clear more burglaries if homeowners stopped cleaning up before we got there and if the lab managed to send back returns on prints in days instead of much, much longer. Also, homeowners need to know that despite what you see on CSI, you aren’t going to get good prints on every surface or even any physical evidence. Even if physical evidence is present, a lot of burglars get popped on other charges and cop to burglaries.

    • best thing to do if you are burglarized is to have serial numbers for anything that was stolen (at least the electronics). Most people dont have these laying around, but if you do, they cops will cross reference them with a database that pawn shops are required to register and cross check their sales with.

      Also, when I got robbed, it helped that the neighbor had security cameras and we had the guys on video. Also, they got caught trying to rob another house and carrying a camera stolen from our house. So, a mix of technology and stupidity is the key here.

  • andy

    People who pose these one way statements like “2 months is not enough” should be required to offer a reasonable alternative sentence to be taken seriously.

    • Minimum 1 year per breaking and entering. 2 years for any where a resident is home creating a potential for a much worse incident.

      How about that andy?

      • So 12 years for this guy? Seems a bit extreme considering he had no prior convictions.

        Or maybe I’m dumb for hoping that these guys can become productive members of society.

      • andy

        A good starting thought. I agree with Chris that 12 years sounds like quite a lot. But less than two years does not seem like enough to most.

        It isn’t too hard to move from open-ended rhetoric to setting up parameters and compromises that could be the basis for a better system of justice.

      • I’d say that’s a good start. chances are no one would get the full sentence and if they did they’d probably get parole before serving the full time.

        I think that sentences for this kind of stuff should be pretty harsh with the ability for a burglar to make ammends, do community service, etc to show that they are turning their life around and are not gonna just do the same thing again when they get out. If someone does not show remorse after breaking in to 12 homes, then throw the book at them. If they do, then let them earn a second chance.

    • The statement implied a reasonable alternative: more than two months.

    • maybe you should learn to taken others more seriously.

  • I’d love to see sentences longer than 2 months per burglary. But that wouldn’t be my highest priority. My top priority would be getting tougher on juvenile offenders. And a close second would be putting more effort into catching criminals (i.e., hire more police, so they have the manpower to really make these cases a priority). If you give me a choice between raising the chance that criminals will get caught and increasing the sentence if they get caught, I’d rather see the effort put into catching them.

  • Despite being a deplorable crime, DC cannot afford to just throw people in jail. Its not free, not cheap, and is not effective. 22 months or 5 years, the person will likely come back a criminal. If not, there’s a young man ready to step up and take his place.

    How to treat criminals? Harshly. Particularly violent criminals. But does harshly mean DC should raise taxes and increase parking rates to cover the $136,788,000 annual cost for running the dept. of corrections? (Fy’12 Budget estimate).

    Wouldn’t you love to see 1/2 of that money invested in schools, education, and youth development? Maybe job training? Maybe cleaning the Anacostia? Instead we’re investing nothingness. Not fixing crime, not feeling safer, nothing.

    The point is, we can be glib and demand more jail time, but at what cost? Prison has its place. I am not naive. But its place is now overgrown, filled with the ranks of the poor and uneducated while barely serving its purpose at a cost to us all.

    • Actually it is free and cheap. The federal government directly pays for the judiciary branch of our city’s government. That’s separate from what the give us as a stipend.

      What prevents people from being convicted is a cultural refusal to blame black kids for crimes, when it’s more convenient to blame poverty. The thought is that most will grow out of it and so it’s better for their employment prospects if they don’t have a permanent record. That’s also why the district refused to publish their names (a database could be generated from the newspaper accounts).

      Obviously schools should be better, but the district made a choice during the last election that they didn’t want better educational opportunities, they wanted prettier and freshly painted schools.

      • This is an interesting bookend with the top comment.

        If you don’t honestly criminalize crime (enforce only light sentences on youth), youth tend to commit more crimes. Hence, you increase the crime rate, and as a result, many kids who’d just “grow out of it” commit crimes they would never had in the first place had they been faced with real consequences.

        The whole poverty argument assumes people don’t respond to the disincentive of incarceration prior to age 18. it’s deeply flawed. If you’re encouraging/not-discouraging criminal behavior, guess what — you’re actually contributing to the poverty rate.

        Put another way, this city could use some tough love.

  • Spend more money on schools???? You obviously don’t realize that the DC school budget per pupil is near the highest of all jurisdictions in the entire Nation.

    Money is not the problem. It is the parents and the school system itself.

    If there are not consequences for crimes that will result in more crime and greater impunity by these criminals.

  • electrified swords in every home. That’s my solution.

    seriously though, burglary sounds awful. What is a person’s legal right in defending themselves from an intruder? We actually do have a sword in our house, and my friends keep golf clubs right by the door. I’ve always wondered what kind of legal trouble I’d end up in if I knocked an intruder over the head with a club.

  • You people are insensitive crybabies. If you would spend more time tutoring minorities and less time whining on blogs, this wouldn’t even be a problem.

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