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Justice Policy Institute a Capitol Concern Disproportionate Impact of Justice System on Low Income Dc Communities 2010

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A Capitol Concern:
The Justice Policy Institute is
dedicated to ending society’s
reliance on incarceration and
promoting effective and just
solutions to social problems.
Board of Directors
David C. Fathi, Board Chair
Tara Andrews
Pastor Heber Brown III
Katharine Huffman
Jody Kent
Peter Leone, Ph.D., Treasurer
Joseph Tulman
Tracy Velázquez
Executive Director
Amanda Petteruti
Associate Director
LaWanda Johnson
Communications Director
Ellen Tuzzolo
Associate Director
Southern Initiatives
Keith Wallington
Program Manager
Nastassia Walsh
Research Associate
Adam Ratliff
Communications Associate
Jason Fenster
Project Assistant
Kellie Shaw
Operations Coordinator
Jasmine Greene
Alabama Correctional Case Reviewer
1012 14th Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-558-7974
Fax: 202-558-7978

The disproportionate impact of the justice system on
low-income communities in D.C.
July 2010

Poverty does not create crime, nor is limited wealth and income
necessarily a predictor of involvement in the justice system; however,
evidence shows that people with the fewest financial resources are more
likely to end up in prison or jail. And during an economic crisis like the one
we are now experiencing, people at the lower end of the income and
wealth spectrum frequently bear a disproportionate share of the
This brief focuses on how socio-economic status intersects with the
criminal justice system in the District of Columbia. The justice system’s
impact on low-income communities is complicated, interrelated, and
difficult to isolate. The high cost of living makes Washington a challenging
place for many to live. The city has a median income higher than the
national average, but some communities, mainly the wards or
neighborhoods that are primarily made up of people of color, have some of
the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the country. The District
has the greatest income inequality of any major city in the country, with
the average income of the top fifth of the District’s households 31 times
higher than the average income of the bottom fifth of households.1
D.C. is broken up into four quadrants and eight wards. The Northwest
quadrant consists roughly of Wards (neighborhoods) 1, 2, 3, and 4. Wards 3
and 4 have the highest median household income and lowest percentage
of people of color in the entire District. Wards 7 and 8 in the Southeast
quadrant are home to residents who are primarily people of color,
particularly African Americans. These areas, while boasting a vibrant
culture and great historical significance also have the lowest median
income of the city as well as the highest unemployment rates. It is
impossible to disentangle resource allocation from race and ethnicity: the
marginalization of communities of color is closely tied to income and
wealth, which in turn contributes to the disproportionate impact of the
criminal justice system on communities of color.

Per capita income is highest in Northwest D.C.



$20,000 - 39,999


$40,000 - 59,999
$60,000 - 99,999

Note: Ward numbers and boundaries superimposed on map.
Source: D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development


Wards 5, 7, and 8 have the highest levels of unemployment in D.C.

Unemployment Rate (2009)








Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3 Ward 4 Ward 5 Ward 6 Ward 7 Ward 8

Source: Department of Employment Services, “Ward Unemployment Rates,” Accessed May 2010.

The effects of the economic downturn have been felt throughout D.C. in ways that can be difficult to
measure in unemployment figures or census statistics. In times like these, investment in social
institutions and supports are at risk here in the District, even as funding for law enforcement and the
justice system grows despite the lowest crime levels in 30 years. In this report, JPI examines how
protective factors such as housing, education, youth development, employment, health care and
treatment affect public safety, the strength and health of communities, and individual life outcomes.
The report explores the roles that these factors and the justice system can play in reducing the number
of people in prison, increasing public safety and promoting overall community well-being.
A nationally-focused report on the intersection of poverty, race and criminal justice – which includes
information on D.C. as its example – will be released in fall 2010; but given the serious and urgent
nature of many of the issues in this report to the District, the Justice Policy Institute felt it important to
share some of the preliminary findings with the D.C. community as soon as possible. We believe the
information presented herein makes the case for greater investments in social institutions that support
the communities of D.C. and hope the report will inform the conversation around District politics,
community well-being and the justice system.


Many D.C. residents are affected by the criminal justice system, but communities of
color and low-income communities are disproportionately affected.

Percent change (2001-2009)

Incarceration is one of the least effective
and most expensive public safety
Crime is down in the District, but arrests
strategies, yet D.C. and other communities
continue to increase
continue to rely on this failed tactic.
Criminal justice involvement is associated
with poorer life outcomes. Decreased
opportunities for success after conviction
because of housing and job discrimination
as well as other challenges can trap
individuals in poverty. Trends show that
even when crime is down in the District,
arrests and incarceration continue to
climb. Despite the recent drop in crime,
police resources continue to increase,
leading to increased arrests for low-level
Source: Metropolitan Police Department, Annual Index
and nonviolent offenses. In D.C., and
Crime Totals 2001-2009; Metropolitan Police Department,
across the country, the impact of these
Office of Research & Analytical Services July 2010.
arrest policies and the criminal justice
communities of color and low-income communities. This is despite people of different races and
ethnicities self-reporting engaging in one of the most common illegal behaviors and drivers of justice
involvement, drug use.2

D.C. has the highest incarceration rate in the country and the third highest rate of criminal
justice control.3 The U.S. incarcerates about one out of every 100 people; D.C.’s rate is twice
that, at one out of every 50 people.


About 5 percent of the D.C. population is under some form of criminal justice control.4 One
out of every 21 people in D.C. was in jail or prison or on probation or parole in 2007.


Despite a 22 percent decrease in crime in D.C. from 2001 to 2009,5 arrests increased 9.4
percent during this time, mostly due to arrests for drug and nonviolent offenses. Arrests for
misdemeanor offenses increased 83 percent during this time.6 81 percent of arrests in 2008
were for nonviolent offenses, including 4,229 arrests for release violations.7


The greatest increases in arrests have been in Wards 5 and 7 (27 and 34 percent,
respectively).8 These two wards have some of the highest percentages of people of color in the
District9 and the highest unemployment rates.10



The number of women arrested in D.C. has increased 19 percent since 2001, including a 78
percent increase in drug arrests.11 Many women in the criminal justice system are mothers and
the impact on children left behind while their mothers are incarcerated is immeasurable.


Nine out of 10 people in D.C.’s Department of Corrections (DOC) are African American, despite
only making up 54 percent of the total population.12 About 72 percent of men and 82 percent
of women in the DOC are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.


Youth arrests have increased 42 percent from 2001 to 2009, mainly for misdemeanor offenses,
which rose 183 percent during this time.13 The law enforcement focus on these and other lowlevel offenses takes away resources from more serious or violent offenses that still present a
challenge for many D.C. communities. Youth
self-report using and selling drugs at similar
rates regardless of race or ethnicity,14 but
targeting youth of color for arrests is leading to
higher rates of contact with the justice system
for youth from these communities.
• Youth arrests make up only 7 percent of
all arrests in the District.15 The majority of youth
arrests occur in Wards 7 and 8 and are for drug
offenses and other nonviolent offenses.
• About 96 percent of youth committed
to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation
Services (DYRS) are African American and 4
percent are Latino.16 Over half of youth in DYRS
custody were from Wards 7 and 8.17 These
wards are predominantly home to communities
of color and have the lowest median household
incomes in the city.18

D.C. spending reflects the prioritization of law enforcement over providing vital
public programs and social support.
Changes to the city’s budget from 2008 to 2010 reveal a powerful statement by city officials about their
true priorities. The recession began in 2008 and, during budget strained times, city officials made the
choice to cut funding for programs and services such as affordable housing, schools, parks, and mental
health care and to increase spending on the policing and court processing of its residents. Spending on
the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Attorney General increased more than 2 percent
and 11 percent respectively from 2008 to 2010;19 other agencies saw their budgets drop. Research
shows that investing in front-end services and programs that keep people out of the justice system is
more effective at improving public safety and promoting community well-being.


The District’s Department of Housing experienced a budget loss of more than 30 percent in
the last two years, despite an increasing need for affordable and supportive housing for
residents during tough economic times. Core housing programs are suffering the most: the
Housing Production Trust Fund budget was slashed from $42 million in 2008 to $18 million in
2010, a cut of more than 50 percent.20


The total budget of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) has fallen 17 percent ($170 million) since
2008.21 Even though D.C. Public Schools continues to struggle with achieving its goals of
providing quality education to every child, spending on education in the District has fallen while
funding for police and court processing has increased. Research shows that states that invest
more in education have lower crime rates than states that spend less.22


Funding for the Department of Parks and Recreation fell almost 20 percent from 2008 to
2010.23 The Department of Parks and Recreation provides vital youth programming (such as the
Roving Leaders Program for Teens) and maintains safe spaces for children to play.24 These
programs are especially valuable to children and teens whose families cannot afford private
camps, classes or after school programs.


The D.C. Department of Mental Health’s budget was cut 17 percent from 2008 to 2010.25
Despite a clear need for mental health services, especially for low-income populations and atrisk children and teens, the city continues to cut funding in this area. Over 5,000 D.C. children in
need of mental health treatment do not receive it.26

Funding for policing D.C. residents increased while funding for positive
social programs and services decreased in the last two years.


Percent change in budget (2008-2010)




Office of the

Metropolitan Department of Department of Department of
Parks and
Mental Health Housing and

D.C. Public





Source: Track D.C.,


Increasing investments in housing will reduce incarceration rates, improve public
safety and promote community well-being
Lack of quality, affordable housing has been linked with poor life outcomes, including decreased
educational performance and exacerbation of health problems.27 Research shows that states that spend
more on housing experience lower incarceration rates than states that spend less.28 And an increase in
spending on housing and community development paired with a decrease in spending on corrections is
associated with lower violent crime rates.29 Having a safe and stable home is the foundation for leading
a productive, positive life, but in cities like D.C, housing is increasingly prohibitively expensive.
Affordable housing
Across the city, affordable housing shrank by more than one-third from 2000 to 2007. Low-cost homes
have also disappeared; from 2000 to 2007, the number of homes costing less than $250,000 fell by 75
One reason for the lack of affordable housing in the District is ongoing gentrification of the city.
Gentrification refers to the social and cultural changes that occur when an area is repopulated, generally
when people with more wealth move to an area previously inhabited by people with lower income,
creating a shift in the culture and economy of the neighborhood or community. Gentrification is a
double-edged sword: On one hand, it can bring needed economic development and services such as
grocery stores, banks and other businesses to underserved neighborhoods. This may creates jobs and
improve safety in that community. On the other hand, it can cause rent and property values to rise
dramatically so that low-income residents cannot afford to live in their own neighborhood anymore;31
residents may be forced to move out to areas far from their jobs and social networks.
Gentrification can also cause
landlords to remove their
housing stock from the
“Section 8” public subsidized
housing pool, so the units can
be sold as condominiums,
reducing the availability of
affordable housing units for
low-income people. Since
2000, D.C. has seen a 15
percent drop in Section 8
housing units and 25,000
people remain on a waiting
list for Housing Choice


Access to housing is critical to reducing homelessness, helping people succeed and reducing the number
of people involved in the justice system. People who are homeless, particularly youth, face extreme
challenges finding food and a safe place to sleep. They are vulnerable to violence and exploitation, and
although homelessness is not a crime, people living outside are more likely to be in view of law
enforcement and may be more likely to be arrested.
Youth who are homeless frequently face additional challenges in school and may be at increased risk of
dropping out. Not only does homelessness contribute to underachievement in schools and
malnourishment, but these factors have been shown to increase a youth’s chances of involvement in the
juvenile justice system.33

D.C. has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country; estimates of the homeless
population range from 12,000 to 17,800 over the course of a year.34


47 percent of homeless people in D.C. are “chronically homeless,” meaning they lived either in
shelters or on the streets for more than a year.35


Families represent over 30 percent of D.C.’s homeless population; more than 2,000 homeless
families seek shelter in D.C. over the course of a year and the District has more than 2,000
homeless children and youth.36


The number of homeless people in D.C. has risen by almost 7 percent since 2005, but the city is
nowhere near able to provide even temporary assistance to people in need of shelter.37 In 2004,
there were only 8,875 publicly and privately funded beds, leaving half of the people without
homes also without emergency assistance.38


About 21 percent of people under supervision of the Substance Abuse and Treatment Branch
of the Court Service and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) with mental illness do not have
a permanent place of residence and reside in a homeless shelter, halfway house, residential
treatment facility, hotel or with relatives/friends.39 Researchers at the University of
Pennsylvania found that providing supportive housing to people with severe mental illness
decreased the number of days people with severe mental illness spent in prison or jail 74 and 40
percent, respectively.40


D.C. public housing rules allow for the exclusion of households where someone has been
arrested or incarcerated. These policies negatively impact not only the person individually, but
his or her children, who may have to change schools and may end up homeless.41

Increasing investments in education will reduce incarceration rates, improve public
safety and promote community well-being
Research shows that education has the potential to augment access to employment and desired job
markets and increase monetary returns to the individual and the community, which can create a context

where public safety is better realized.42 The likelihood of criminal justice involvement decreases as
education attainment increases. States with higher high school graduation rates and college enrollment
have lower crime rates than states with lower educational attainment levels.43
While D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) is working towards providing quality education to D.C. children, data
indicates that the schools with students who face the most disadvantages continue to encounter
barriers to educational attainment. A continued focus of school resources and attention on areas with
the lowest income or highest poverty rates can help youth in these areas succeed and have a chance at
a better future.

DCPS ranked last in the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) proficiency
with only 9.8 percent of 4th and 8th graders scoring proficiently or above in math and reading;
the national average was about 31 percent.44


Compared to other large, urban school districts, DCPS is still 7 points below the average.45 On
the Trial Urban District Assessment, which is considered a fairer snapshot of urban districts’
academic achievement, D.C. schools did not fare as well as other districts.


68.9 percent of D.C. students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, the highest
percentage of any state in the country,46 and a higher proportion of children in this income
bracket – under 185 percent of poverty — than in the District as a whole (49.5 percent).47 This
shows that many higher-income families in D.C. are not using the public school system.


Wards with the lowest median income and highest percentage of people of color have the
lowest math and reading proficiencies and the highest levels of people without high school
degrees.48 Data from District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) shows
that 69 percent of youth in the District were below 50 percent reading proficiency in 2009, but
91 percent of youth in Wards 7 and 8 were below 50 percent. Sixty-five percent of youth in the
District were below 50 percent math proficiency in 2009, but 93 percent of youth in Wards 7
and 8 were below 50 percent.


Only half of men in the D.C. Department of Corrections custody have a high school education
or equivalent.49 Increasing access to education for people and communities most likely to be
affected by the criminal justice system can improve public safety, reduce incarceration and
promote positive life outcomes.

Increasing access to mental health or substance abuse treatment services will reduce
incarceration rates, improve public safety and promote community well-being
Access to quality and appropriate mental health and substance abuse treatment can make a critical
difference in quality of life for individuals and families; however, this treatment is often out of reach for
the over 55,000 people in D.C. without health insurance or the financial resources to pay for it. For those
who do receive treatment, frequently it is through the criminal justice system, which is the largest single
source of referrals to substance abuse treatment nationally, comprising 37 percent of all admissions.50

A disproportionate number of people in the justice system have a mental health or substance abuse
problem; over half of people in prisons and jails across the country report mental illness of some kind,
compared to 25 percent of the general population.51 One-half to two-thirds of people in jails and state
and federal prisons across the U.S. meet standard diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV) for alcohol/drug
dependence or abuse.52 About 75-93 percent of youth in juvenile justice system have experienced
traumatic victimizations, making them more vulnerable to mental, emotional or behavioral disorders.53
Currently, access to medical and mental health treatment can be prohibitively expensive and
inaccessible for those without quality insurance coverage. To improve public safety, as well as
community health and wellness, affordable access to treatment of all kinds is vital.

African Americans are 2.5 times more likely and Latinos 8 times more likely than whites to be
uninsured in the District.54 Despite an overall high rate of health insurance coverage in the
District (91.2 percent of D.C. residents are insured), 80 percent of adults and children in D.C.
without insurance are people of color,55 which means that people from some communities are
not receiving the treatment they need.


Over 5,000 children in D.C. are in need of mental health treatment but do not receive it, and
less than 2 percent of children enrolled in D.C. Medicaid access mental health services for
moderate mental health needs.56


The need for drug abuse treatment was highest in wards with the lowest median incomes; in
Wards 5 and 8, more than 4 percent of people are in need of but not receiving treatment and
these two wards have median household incomes that are significantly lower than the city


From 2005-2006 about 16,000 D.C. residents reported needing but not receiving treatment for
substance abuse.58 Lack of access to treatment can not only be detrimental to the health of an
individual, but also may make them more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice


About 34 percent of people under supervision of the Substance Abuse Treatment Branch
(SATB) of the D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency have co-occurring
substance abuse and mental health conditions.59 SATB is the specialized unit that directs
CSOSA’s mental health referrals and supervises people with mental illnesses and co-occurring
disorders. Since 2000, the number of people identified by the SATB with a mental health
condition has increased 40 percent.


Approximately 25 percent of women supervised by D.C.’s Court Services and Offender
Supervision Agency (CSOSA) identify as having various mental health conditions. About 40
percent of CSOSA women reported histories of substance abuse and addiction in 2009.60


Increasing investments in job training and employment will reduce incarceration
rates, improve public safety and promote community well-being
Increased employment is associated with positive public safety outcomes; states with lower rates of
unemployment also have lower crime rates.61 Conversely, high rates of incarceration in a community are
also associated with reduced job opportunities, creating a toxic cycle of poverty, unemployment and
incarceration. Creating jobs for people in disadvantaged communities that pay wages that can support a
family will improve public safety and promote better life outcomes.

As of March 2010, the unemployment rate in D.C. was 11.6 percent, compared to the national
average of 9.7 percent.62 Unemployment figures only include people actively looking for work,
and neglect to include who have given up looking, often in areas of persistent poverty. There are
stark differences in unemployment among the eight wards:

The highest rates of unemployment are in communities of color: over 28 percent in
Ward 8, 20 percent in Ward 7, and 15 percent in Ward 5.


In contrast, Wards 2 and 3, which are majority white, have unemployment rates of
about 6 and 3 percent, respectively.63


D.C. has the second highest cost of living in the nation, and a “basic family budget” for a family
of three in D.C. is about $61,000 per year; a low-wage single earner family making $10.80 per
hour would earn $22,000 a year, which is only 37 percent of the basic family budget.64


In 2004, the District had the greatest income inequality of any major city in the country, with
the average income of the top fifth of the District’s households —$186,830 —31 times higher
than the average income of the bottom fifth of households —$6,126.65


The poverty rate in D.C. has risen by 19 percent since 2007. Currently, close to 19 percent of
D.C. residents are at or below the poverty line.66 One in 10 D.C. residents lives at 50 percent of
the poverty level, categorized as “extreme poverty.”67


African Americans residents of the District are 3 times more likely than white residents to live
below the poverty line.68


Almost 30 percent of D.C. children live in poverty.69

Recent increases in unemployment have not occurred concurrently with increases in crime, which is
contrary to traditional thinking that increases in unemployment would increase the crime rate; however,
investments in job training and employment over incarceration will bring about long-term positive
results for communities and in terms of public safety. Having a job is an important factor in whether a
person is successful in re-entering the community from incarceration.


Healthy and safe communities require more than just examining crime rates. A whole host of issues
influence individual life outcomes and family and community prosperity. Addressing the myriad factors
contributing to community health and wellness and improving public policies will have a lasting impact
on communities. For healthier, stronger and safer communities, the Justice Policy Institute proposes the
following recommendations to improve D.C. policies and practices:
Focus law enforcement resources on addressing serious public safety challenges rather than ensnaring
people in the criminal justice system. Arrest rates are climbing despite falling crime rates and people
from communities of color are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of such policies. An end
to targeted policing in low-income communities and communities of color would help reduce the
disproportionate representation of people of color in the criminal justice system and better utilize public
1. Focus law enforcement resources on the most serious or violent offenses, rather than low-level
and “quality of life” offenses.
2. Consider local ordinances that make minor offenses and simple possession of marijuana
citations rather than arrests.
Ensure that all residents have access to quality, affordable housing. As stable, affordable housing is the
foundation for education, employment and access to other social programs and services, people in such
living environments are better able to make investments in themselves, their families, and their
neighborhoods. With quality, affordable housing, families can afford other necessities such as health
care, education and healthy food. Communities with affordable housing enjoy the benefits in public
safety, cost savings, and long-term community enrichment.
3. Increase incentives for expanding Section 8 housing unit availability.
4. Increase access to Housing Choice Vouchers.
5. Work with local housing and homelessness organizations to eliminate housing discrimination for
households that include people with arrest histories or felony convictions.
Ensure that all children have access to quality public education in their neighborhood. A long-term
investment in education creates lasting changes for communities in terms of economic development,
civic involvement and improved public safety. Quality education, especially for students from lowincome families, not only promotes social justice, but it also improves public safety and overall
6. Hold schools and school officials accountable for enacting a serious plan to improve student
academic achievement and graduation rates, particularly in schools that are facing the greatest


7. Provide the needed funding to make the improvements in teacher quality and resources that
schools need to improve.
8. Increase quality in-school support and counseling services for students who have experienced
trauma, or who have learning disabilities and/or emotional disturbances.
9. End over-policing of schools and “zero-tolerance” policies that result in more youth, particularly
youth of color and those from lower-income families, in the criminal justice system.
Create opportunities for all residents to engage in substantial employment as well as increase their
job skills through training programs. People with more employment opportunities and earning
potential would be better able to make other investments in their communities, their families and
themselves. Ending employment discrimination against people who have been involved in the justice
system would enable them to be successful and make the changes necessary to contribute positively to
the community.
10. Create jobs that pay well and increase job training programs in areas of the city that need them
the most.
11. Change D.C.’s tax system, which is regressive and taxes low-income residents at a higher rate
than high-earning residents.
12. Increase funding and access to unemployment insurance to support families and individuals as
they look for a new job.
13. Work to end employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated people.
Ensure that all people have access to health care, mental health care and substance abuse treatment
in their communities. People who are healthy and have access to treatment for mental illness and
substance abuse are more likely to be productive citizens, less likely to participate in illegal activities,
and more likely to invest in themselves, their families and their communities.
14. Ensure mental health and substance abuse treatment for those who are uninsured,
underinsured, or covered by the city’s insurance plan (D.C. HealthCare Alliance).
15. Encourage doctors and hospitals to increase their locations in underserved areas, such as Wards
7 and 8.
16. Increase reimbursement rates for those who are covered by the city’s public insurance plan so
that low-income residents can afford to access care.
17. Support the public/private partnership called Medical Homes D.C. which seeks to improve
access to quality primary care in the District’s medically underserved neighborhoods.
Create more opportunities for youth to be involved in positive activities during after-school time and
throughout the summer. After-school and summer time activities, mentoring programs, and

employment increase a youth’s academic, social, and emotional wellbeing and reduce the risk of
involvement in illegal behaviors. Youth would have opportunities to help improve their communities,
reduce crime and improve public safety.
18. Invest more in city departments, such as Parks and Recreation, which provide critical afterschool and summertime programming for youth.
19. Increase affordable and accessible after-school and summertime activities for youth from lowincome communities and communities of color.
20. Increase accountability and oversight for the effective operation of the Summer Youth
Employment Program.
Ensure that all community members have access to affordable public transportation options. Public
transportation is particularly critical in low-income neighborhoods where residents may not own cars.
Affordable transportation would allow people to access jobs and services that may not be available in
their community, improving their quality of life and public safety.
21. Expand affordable public transportation options for people in underserved communities.
22. Evaluate recent changes to Metro fares for their impact on low-income residents.
Invest in green spaces and recreational facilities for residents to enjoy. A thoughtful design of the
physical environment of a community improves public safety. Abandoned buildings should be
repurposed, vacant lots developed for uses such as a community parks and community gardens, street
lighting replaced or increased and graffiti removed.
23. Attend community meetings hosted by the Office of Planning to encourage the prioritization of
the needs and voices of residents of low-income communities when undertaking
“beautification” or “revitalization” projects.
24. Create or refurbish parks, community gardens and playgrounds in disadvantaged

The Justice Policy Institute is a non-profit research and public policy organization dedicated to reducing
society’s reliance on incarceration and promoting fair and effective solutions to social problems. To read
the full report and other reports on public safety, please visit
This report would not have been possible without the generous support of the Open Society Institute and
the Public Welfare Foundation. This report is the culmination of interviews with many people in
Washington, D.C., including community leaders and advocates, as well as research and data analysis.











% People of Color2000










Median Household










Violent Crime (per
1,000 pop.)-2007










Persons Receiving
Food Stamps-2009




















Persons Receiving










% Graduated High










% Graduated










Needed But Did Not
Receive Treatment
For Drug UseAverages 2004-2006










% People of Color, Median Household Income, Violent Crime, Food Stamps, TANF, % graduated High School, %
graduated college: Neighborhood Info D.C., “Neighborhood Profiles: Council Wards,”;
% Graduated High School, % Graduated college: D.C. Office of Planning, “2000 Educational Level by Ward,”,a,1282,q,569859.asp
Unemployment: Department of Employment Services, “Ward Unemployment Rates,” Accessed May 2010.;
Treatment for Drug Use: Department of Health and Human Services, Substate Estimates from the 2004-2006
National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (Department of Health and Human Services; Washington, D.C., 2008).



Angie Rodgers and Ed Lazere, Income Inequality in the District of Columbia Is Wider Than in Any Major U.S. City
(Washington, D.C.: D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, 2004)
L. Johnston and others Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings 2002
(Bethesda: MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2003)
The Pew Center on the States, 1 in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections (Washington, D.C.: Pew Public Safety
Performance Project, 2009).
The Pew Center on the States, 2009.
Metropolitan Police Department, Annual Index Crime Totals 2001-2009,,a,1239,q,543315.asp
Metropolitan Police Department, Office of Research & Analytical Services, July 2010.
Metropolitan Police Department, Annual Report 2008 (Washington, D.C.: Metropolitan Police Department, 2009).
Metropolitan Police Department, Office of Research & Analytical Services, July 2010.
Neighborhood Info D.C., “Neighborhood Profiles: Council Wards,”
Department of Employment Services, “Ward Unemployment Rates,” Accessed May 2010.
Metropolitan Police Department Female Arrest Trends in Washington, D.C.: 2001-2008: A Brief Look at the Growth in
Female Arrests and Its Impact on Our Community (Washington, D.C.: Metropolitan Police Department, Research and
Analysis Branch, 2009)
D.C. Department of Corrections, Facts and Figures (Washington, D.C.: District of Columbia Department of Corrections,
Metropolitan Police Department, Office of Research & Analytical Services, July 2010.
L. Johnston and others, 2003.
Metropolitan Police Department, Office of Research & Analytical Services, July 2010.
DYRS Research & Quality Assurance Division, October 1, 2009.
DYRS Research & Quality Assurance Division, October 1, 2009.
Neighborhood Info D.C., “Neighborhood Profiles: Council Wards,”
Metropolitan Police Department, Annual Report 2007 (Washington, DC: Metropolitan Police Department, 2007).; Metropolitan Police
Department, “Proposed FY2010 Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department,” April 1, 2009.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Nowhere to Go: As DC Housing Costs Rise, Residents Are Left with Fewer Available Housing
Options (Washington, D.C.: D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, 2010).
D.C. Public Schools, “Fenty Administration Highlights FY ‘09 DCPS School Budget and New Pre-K Plan,” March 17, 2008.; Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Quality Counts at 10: A
Decade of Standards-Based Education (Bethesda, MD: Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, 2006).
Justice Policy Institute, Education and Public Safety (Washington, D.C.: 2007)
Track D.C., “HAO,”
Track D.C., “DHCD,”
Track D.C., “DMH,”
D.C. Behavioral Health Association, Press Release: “Press Availability and Comment on Nixon-Peabody Report to the
Committee on Health on Youth Mental Health Needs: Keep Kids and Communities Safe by Addressing their Mental
Health Needs, and Eliminate Barriers to Access,” July 8, 2010.
Elizabeth J. Mueller and J. Rosie Tighe, “Making the case for affordable housing: Connecting housing with health and
education outcome,” Journal of Planning Literature 21, no. 4 (2007).



Justice Policy Institute, Housing and Public Safety (Washington, D.C.: 2008)
Justice Policy Institute, 2008.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, 2010.
Robert I. Lerman and Signe-Mary McKernan, “Promoting Neighborhood Improvement while Protecting Low-Income
Families,” The Urban Institute: Opportunity and Ownership, no.2 (May 2008): 1.
District of Columbia Housing Monitor, Loss of Active Section 8 Multi-Family Housing in D.C: Preservation Summary,
Winter 2008 (Washington, D.C.: District of Columbia Housing Monitor, 2008)
National Alliance to End Homelessness, “Youth,”
The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Homelessness and Poverty: Washington, DC (Washington, DC: The
Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless).
The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless
The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless
The Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee, The 2009 Count of Homeless Persons in Shelters and on
the Streets in Metropolitan Washington (Washington, D.C.: The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments,
Anthony A. Williams and Neil O. Albert, A Strategy for Ending Homelessness in Washington D.C. by 2014 (Washington,
D.C.: National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2004).
Court Service and Offender Supervision Agency, “Mental Health Fact Sheet Substance Abuse and Treatment Branch
(SATB), Community Supervision Services Re-Entry and Sanctions Center (RSC), Office of Community Justice Programs,”
Dennis P. Culhane and others, “The impact of supportive housing for homeless people with severe mental illness on
the utilization of the public health, corrections, and emergency shelter systems: The New York-New York Initiative,”
Housing Policy Debate 13, no. 1 (2002).
District of Columbia Municipal Regulations,
Justice Policy Institute, 2007.
Justice Policy Institute, 2007.
Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Quality Counts at 10: A Decade of Standards-Based Education
(Bethesda, MD: Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, 2006).
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2009 Reading Assessment, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of
Education, 2009)
National Center for Education Statistics, “Numbers and Types of Elementary and Secondary Schools from the Common
Core of Data: School Year 2008-2009, First Look: D.C.”
U.S. Census Bureau, Poverty Status by State 2008. Table showing children under 18 by poverty status.
District of Columbia Public Schools, Office of Data and Accountability, July 14, 2010
D.C. Department of Corrections, 2010.
Treatment Episode Data Set, “Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Referred by the Criminal Justice System,”
August 13, 2009.
National Institute of Mental Health, “The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America,” June 3, 2010.; Doris J.
James and Lauren E. Glaze, Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates (Washington D.C.: Bureau of Justice
Statistics, September 2006).
National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Treating Offenders with Drug Problems: Integrating Public Health and Public
Safety,” March 2009.
D.G. Kilpatrick and others, “Violence and risk of PTSD, major depression, substance abuse/dependence, and
comorbidity: Results from the National Survey of Adolescents,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 71, no.4


(2003): 692-700; Sprague, C. Informing Judges about Child Trauma. NCTSN Service System Briefs; GS Goodman and
others, “Child maltreatment and memory,” Annual Review of Psychology 61 (2009): 325-351.
Jennifer King, Insurance and Uninsurance in the District, (Urban Institute: Washington, D.C., 2004).
Kaiser Family State Health Facts, “District of Columbia Non Elderly Uninsured,” 2008. and U.S. Census Bureau, “State and County Quickfacts:
District of Columbia,” Accessed May 2010.
District of Columbia Behavioral Health Association, “Press Availability and Comment on Nixon-Peabody Report to the
Committee on Health on Youth Mental Health Needs,” July8, 2010.
See Appendix
Office of National Drug Control Policy: Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse, “Washington, D.C.: Profile of Drug
Indicators,” August 2008.
Court Service and Offender Supervision Agency
Willa Butler and Veronica Powell, Female Probationers/Parolees under CSOSA and National Supervision (Washington,
D.C.: Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, 2007).
Justice Policy Institute, Employment, Wages and Public Safety (Washington, D.C.: 2008).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Local Area Unemployment Statistics,” Accessed May 2010. and
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” Accessed May 2010.
Department of Employment Services, “Ward Unemployment Rates,” Accessed May 2010.
Ed Lazere, DC’s Two Economies: Many Residents Are Falling Behind Despite the City’s Revitalization (Washington, D.C.:
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, 2007).
Angie Rodgers and Ed Lazere, Income Inequality in the District of Columbia Is Wider Than in Any Major U.S. City
(Washington, D.C.: D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, 2004).
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Poverty on the Rise in the District: The Impact of Unemployment in 2009 and 2010
(Washington, D.C.: D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, 2010).
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Census Data Show No Major Changes in D.C. Poverty in 2008 Yet
Figures Reveal Large Disparities in Poverty between Different Population Groups (Washington, D.C.: D.C. Fiscal Policy
Institute, 2009).
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Census Data Show No Major Changes in D.C. Poverty in 2008 Yet
Figures Reveal Large Disparities in Poverty between Different Population Groups, 2009.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, D.C. Poverty Demographics (Washington, D.C.: D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, March 2009).