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ANC6B10 Commissioner Denise Krepp is a resident of Hill East. PoP-Ed. posts may be written about anything related to the District and submitted via email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail please include PoP-Ed. in the subject line.
Ed. Note: The Post also published an editorial on this subject, ‘D.C. has gone too far on criminal-justice reform’
“DC Council and Violent Crime
Over the weekend, The Washington Post published an article about legislation under review by the DC Council that enables individuals convicted of rape and murder to be released early from prison. Instead of helping rapists, DC Councilmembers should be asking why the Department of Justice isn’t prosecuting rapes occurring in Washington, DC; why millions of DC tax dollars are being spent on sexual harassment settlements; and why DC agency employees who commit sexual harassment are still employed.
Currently, DC law enables judges to reduce prison sentences for crimes committed by individuals under the age of 18. There are no disqualifying crimes. The law simply states that the individual must served 20 years in prison.
Until recently, judges reviewing petitions for early release were required to consider the nature of the crimes committed. The DC Council removed that requirement from the law in January 2019.
Now, the DC Council wants to expand the early release policy to individuals who committed crimes under the age of 25. And again, there is no limitation on crimes. An individual can commit rape and receive early release if that individual was under the age of 25 when the crime occured.
While the DC Council is drafting legislation reducing prison sentences for rapists, I’ve been asking questions about the lack of rape prosecutions. I sued the Department of Justice for information in 2016 and successfully obtained it. The data showed that the majority of rapes that occur in our city aren’t prosecuted. I asked DC Councilmembers for help with the case but none volunteered.
In 2018, I asked DC agencies for information about the amount of money the city was spending on sexual harassment agreements involving DC agency employees. Again, I asked the DC Council for help and again, they declined. So wearing the ANC hat, I persisted.
Attorney General Racine was the only agency director to voluntarily share information. He shared that the city spent $955,000 on a sexual harassment settlement agreement involving the Department of Corrections. An additional $250,000 was spent on a settlement agreement with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.
I shared Attorney General Racine’s accounting with the DC Council expressing concern about the millions of dollars being spent. I asked what they were going to do to fix the problem. Crickets.
Then a whisteblower contacted me. She was a former contractor at the Department of For Hire Vehicles. She reported sexual harassment. The agency substantiated it and then terminated her contract. The individual who committed the sexual harassment is still employed. I shared this information with the DC Council expressing outrage at the blatant retaliation. Again, no response.
To say that I’m frustrated would be an understatement. I’m an unpaid Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. I don’t have a staff and I’m spending hundreds of hours attempting to hold DC agencies accountable for sexual harassment and assault. Meanwhile, the DC Councilmembers are drafting legislation that helps rapists.