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At-Large DC Council candidate GP David Schwartzman: Quick fixes won’t lower the District’s crime rate

David Schwartzman, the DC Statehood Green Party’s candidate for at-large member of the City Council, said yesterday that District government must enact long-term and systematic measures to reduce the local crime rate, rather than rely on “quick fixes.”

Mr. Schwartzman identified expansion of community-police partnerships, moving police officers from their cars onto the street, and education in nonviolent conflict resolution as necessary but partial steps for ending the currrent wave of crime in Washington, DC.

In a statement prepared for an August 7 citywide community meeting on crime in DC neighborhoods, Mr. Schwartzman stressed that crime rates have been consistently tied to employment and poverty rates, and offered long-term solutions such as eliminating child poverty, job creation, and comprehensive counseling programs.

He also noted that criminal activity, corruption, and policies based on the use of fear and violence at the highest levels of US government have “set the example for violent crime in our neighborhoods.”

“Thursday evening’s meeting was a strong indicator that’s there’s a lot of community interest in constructive ways to deal with DC’s crime problem,” said David Schwartzman.  The Citywide Community Meeting on Crime took place in the Old DC Council Chambers, 441 4th Street, NW, and was organized by the 5th District Citizens’ Advisory Council, Ward 4 Education Council, Eastland Gardens Civic Association, Council of Churches of Greater Washington Social Action Committee, and DC Federation of Civic Associations, Inc.

The DC Statehood Green Party has taken strong positions against the war on drugs and the expansion of the private prison industry.  The party asserts that drug abuse should be treated as a medical and social problem rather than an excuse to lock up users, and has warned that corporations that own and run prisons have a financial incentive to fill up cells with more inmates.  The prison industry, with its numerous business contractors, thus constitutes a powerful lobby for criminalizing more of the population, resulting in the US’s record incarceration rate, the highest of any nation in the world.

Statehood Greens noted that the zeal for imprisoning young people has turned nonviolent youthful offenders into violent hardened criminals.  The Green Party nationally has called for repeal of zero tolerance and mandatory sentencing statutes, an end to abuses of the plea-bargaining system, federal monitoring of prosecutorial practices and sentencing patterns in all jurisdictions where racial disparities are evident, in accord with civil rights laws, and other measures (“Green Party says racially biased US justice system needs drastic overhaul,” press release, July 25, 2007, http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_07_25.shtml).

David Schwartzman, a biology professor at Howard University, is running unopposed in the DC Statehood Green primary.

Stopping violent crime: a quick fix or real solutions?

Statement by David Schwartzman, candidate for at-large member of the City Council of the District of Columbia

There are no quick fixes to reducing violent crime.  Partial solutions yes, including the expansion of real community-police partnerships, moving cops from their cars onto the street, and especially education in non-violent conflict resolution in DC public schools and recreation facilities.

Police and government violence at the highest level (e.g., the illegal and immoral US Iraq invasion) set the example for violent crime in our neighborhoods.

Police abuse of civil rights and liberties (e.g., Trinidad blockade, police killing of DeOnté Rawlings) must stop.

An independent Civilian Review Board should be established to investigate all police misconduct. The root cause of youth violence in our community is the high poverty rate, especially for our children.  Domestic and youth violence should be approached as a public health problem.  Invest in education, full service recreation/learning centers, not more surveillance cameras!  Prioritize the elimination of child poverty.

All necessary support services and incentives especially for “disconnected” youth, should be provided, fully funded and staffed.  For example, more social workers must be hired to reduce the present caseload so that timely intervention is possible.  Full funding of substance abuse treatment and affordable housing for all in need must be provided with long term intervention, child care, comprehensive substance abuse and HIV/AIDS treatment programs, mental health counseling and job training. Priorities:  Raise TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] above the poverty level.  An apprenticeship program for 21st Century green collar jobs should be provided in all our public schools, partnering with non-profits, businesses and unions.

Unemployment, low wages, lack of job access are proven drivers of crime, especially drug related (Gould et al., 2002, Review of Economics and Statistics 84, No.1: 45-61; Ihlanfeldt, K.R.., 2007, same journal, 89, No.1: 151-164).

Lets end the flow of our youth into the Prison Industrial Complex!   No to urban class and race apartheid!  No to the Federal City Council Agenda, ” Urban Structural Adjustment”!  Yes to a more just DC, the other DC that is possible!

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