In Washington, D.C.’s “crime emergency,” $8 million has been set aside for police overtime, surveillance cameras will be installed in neighborhoods, and teenagers 16 and younger must abide by a 10 p.m. curfew that begins tonight, says the Washington Post. The measures have exacerbated race and class rifts. Youth advocates note that adults account for 82 percent of violent crime and more than 90 percent of arrests. Many dismiss the emergency efforts as bluster that will have little impact. “We’ve sort of scared people to death, and we’re not able to make effective policy,” said Jason Ziedenberg of the Justice Policy Institute, which works on issues of crime and alternatives to incarceration.
Washington, like many jurisdictions, has long turned to curfews, community policing and additional officers to counter crime spikes. “There’s a front-end issue to help kids succeed, like health care, child care, literacy, recreation,” says Police Chief Charles Ramsey. “As police, we’re sort of the last thing there when all these other measures have failed.” In 2005, 6 percent of those arrested were juveniles. This year, it is 8 percent. Ramsey doesn’t hesitate to shine a bright light on the change of two percentage points. “Any increase in juvenile crime, I think it is something you have to take a serious look at,” he said. “You don’t want 15- and 16-year-olds to get a criminal start in life. When more kids are getting arrested, it’s a societal problem.”