The District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute engages in original research on crime policy matters of interest to the mayor and the citizens of the District of Columbia. DCPI research will generally fall into two categories: research that informs strategic objectives and research concerned with ongoing justice systems operations. The goal of the first objective is to identify recurring events with long-term impacts on crime and public safety in the District of Columbia and find evidence-based solutions. The goal of the latter objective is to help agencies improve outcomes by implementing evidence-based policies and practices. DCPI staff develops research in collaboration with key leaders of District of Columbia agencies, JGA, and EOM. DCPI studies are carried out by researchers associated with the Urban Institute and researchers from external organizations, as appropriate.
Variation in 2010-11 Truancy Rates Among District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) High Schools and Middle Schools
In the 2010-2011 school year, 2,500 high school students were chronically truant in District of Columbia Public Schools; at four schools over half of the students were chronically truant. High school truancy rates were moderately related to poverty and crime in students’ residential neighborhoods and to violence near school. But the absenteeism of students in eighth grade was the strongest predictor of high school truancy rates. Focusing on middle school attendance issues may therefore be the most effective means of lowering high school truancy rates.
An evaluation of the Truancy Court Diversion Program (TCDP) found that despite significant implementation challenges, parent-child communication and youths' attitudes towards school both improved. A voluntary program for middle school students at risk for chronic truancy, TCDP involves judicially-led sessions that address student attitudes combined with case management and service referrals to address family-level attendance barriers. The evaluation found that families of truant youth had high levels of need and were successfully connected to services. The evaluation suggests that the program should be formalized and better supported through dedicated resources and support from school administration prior to expansion.
Evaluation of the Pilot Program of the Truancy Case Management Partnership Initiative in the District of Columbia, 2011-12
This evaluation of the Case Management Partnership Initiative (CPMI) found that the program successfully linked high-need families with services designed to prevent truancy. The truancy prevention program, implemented at Anacostia and Ballou High Schools in 2011-2012, links chronically truant ninth graders and their families to social services and case management, and includes weekly interagency case management meetings. While the evaluation found that the program was implemented as intended, it is unclear whether the program's efforts impacted truancy among participants. Nonetheless, CMPI remains a promising platform for additional program experimentation, including possible modifications to timing, eligibility criteria, and program components.
The Truancy Court Diversion Program (TCDP) is a voluntary program for students at risk for chronic truancy. TCDP addresses attitudes of students and parents through sessions involving Family Court judges, and addresses barriers to attendance though case management and service referrals. An implementation evaluation of a pilot TCDP found key implementation challenges concerning recruitment and program participation, and the lack of regular team meetings. The program seems to have improved attitudes of regular participants, and provided families with needed services. Several modifications are recommended to strengthen the program. Structural changes would be necessary to take the TCDP to a larger scale.
This report explores recent trends in the commitment of delinquent youth to the custody of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). Commitments to DYRS increased considerably from 2006-07 to 2009-10, due to more youth being committed following adjudication on misdemeanors. In 2011, commitments to DYRS declined, due to fewer youth being committed on felonies. By 2011, most youth committed to DYRS were misdemeanants. Understanding these shifts in the youth committed to DYRS will require a broad exploration of juvenile justice case processing involving all delinquent youth, using integrated data across juvenile justice agencies.
Interim Evaluation of the Pilot Program of the Truancy Case Management Partnership Intervention in the District of Columbia
The Case Management Partnership Initiative (CMPI) addresses chronic truancy by linking truant ninth graders and their families to social services and case management, along with regular interagency case management meetings. A pilot was conducted at Anacostia and Ballou High Schools in 2011-2012. The implementation evaluation found that the pilot program successfully implemented an interagency partnership and linked families to needed services, which likely improved family well-being. Whether this impacted truancy is not yet known. To reduce chronic truancy, the CMPI is a promising platform for additional program experimentation, including possible modifications to timing, eligibility criteria, and program components.
This report describes adult criminal case processing and disposition in Washington, DC. In general, this analysis finds that the District follows national patterns with respect to charging practice and sentencing. Defendants in the District are slightly more likely to be charged with serious person crimes than are cases nationally, and slightly less likely to be charged with a property crime. Defendants in the District are slightly more likely than other large urban counties to receive probation, and slightly less likely to be sentenced to jail, prison, or long prison sentences, though sentences for serious person offenses are longer.
Pre-Trial Detention of Dangerous and Violent Defendants Following Passage of the Omnibus Public Safety Justice Amendment Act of 2009
In 2009, the DC Council passed the Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Amendment Act of 2009, a comprehensive anti-crime bill with a particular focus on gun crime and other violent crime in the District of Columbia. Among several policy changes introduced by the Act is the facilitation of pretrial detention for defendants charged with certain offenses, mostly dangerous or violent crimes. This report examines whether detention of these defendants increased following passage of the Act. After accounting for preexisting trends in pretrial detention in the District of Columbia, we find that pretrial detention for dangerous and violent defendants without weapons charges rose after passage of the Act, but those with associated weapons charges show no change.
This report compares three pretrial agencies—Washington, D.C., New York City, and Baltimore—and discusses their practice of pretrial services and programs, with a particular focus on risk assessment. DCPI researchers identify several unique attributes of the District of Columbia’s Pretrial Service Agency, including its focus on public safety, implementation of formal assessments of flight risk, and lack of reliance on monetary bail. They conclude that PSA’s pretrial risk assessment is more comprehensive than in the other two agencies because it is both designed to inform the use of a broad range of pretrial treatment and supervision options and is focused on helping to reduce and manage the risk to public safety posed by pretrial defendants.
The District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute, in partnership with Temple University, is conducting a study on the behavior and social networks of youths ages 14 to 21 in Washington, D.C. The study measures both positive activities (e.g., sports, after-school programs) and delinquent behaviors (e.g., theft, violence) and uses data on social networks to understand how relationships influence behavior and, in turn, to provide insight on how to best prevent youth involvement in delinquent or violent activity. Our preliminary analysis, outlined in this report, finds that nonpeer relationships (teachers, mentors, extended family members) may be just as important as peer relationships when examining delinquency and violence.
This report presents a strategic plan to improve the Focused Area Initiative, a community-based initiative that aims to reduce criminal activity and increase the quality of life in at-risk communities by combining community policing with human and social services delivery. This strategic plan outlines a collaborative Neighborhood-Based Crime Prevention Initiative (NCPI) that combines law enforcement-led crime suppression activities with human and social service efforts to address longer-term risk factors for crime. This plan focuses on the initiative’s structure, and data and administrative requirements. Objectives, associated suppression and prevention activities, and performance measures are related to initiative goals and measurable crime outcomes. This sets the stage for an initiative that could be monitored and ultimately evaluated.
This review pertains to DCPI's analysis of the Focused Area Initiative, a community-based initiative that aims to reduce criminal activity and increase the quality of life in at-risk communities by combining community policing with human and social services delivery. It reviews the Initiative’s past efforts based on stakeholder interviews, programmatic materials, administrative records, and field observations. While many aspects of the Initiative were implemented as designed, it was not designed in such a way as to ensure sustained interagency, collaborative efforts focused on measuring and addressing outcomes. The report concludes with considerations for next steps.
The District of Columbia Mayor's Focused Improvement Area Initiative: