Violent Crime Down in District

Residents Support Employment and Workforce Development Programs to Promote Public Safety

Washington, D.C.–Youth arrests for violent offenses in the District of Columbia are down from the same time last year, according to an analysis released today by the Justice Policy Institute.This analysis found that despite the fact that youth make up a relatively small percentage of arrests in the District–comprising 6 percent of all arrests from August 3-9, 2008–young people continue to be the focus of current crime trends. 

Although some D.C. communities still experience public safety challenges, statistics show that overall the number of violent offenses reported to police is down 4 percent in the District compared to the same time last year and has fallen almost consistently for the past seven years. Advocates say it’s time for the District to rally behind community-based services as a means of increasing public safety.

“The District has an opportunity to put its full support behind community-based interventions proven to contribute positively to public safety and that are endorsed by the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services,” said Justice Policy Institute Executive Director Sheila Bedi.”The public supports what the research shows–investments in jobs, education, housing and workforce development are the best ways to keep communities safe. “

According to advocates, the relationship between youth employment and crime is not coincidental. Research found that from 1997 to 2004, as the unemployment rate for D.C. youth fell, the referral rate of youth to juvenile court also decreased. Developed under Mayor Marion Barry in the 1980s, D.C.’s youth summer job program is a positive example of policy aimed at employment and job-training for youth.This year, 21,000 D.C. youth signed up for Mayor Fenty’s summer youth jobs program, 7,000 more than in previous years  The positive experiences gained from this employment translate into benefits for both young people and their communities.

A recent poll released by Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner Research found that District residents support providing youth with opportunities to better themselves, including vocational training, mental health treatment, and high school degree assistance as the best way to use public safety dollars. 

“The verdict is in,” continued Bedi.”D.C. communities want the District to invest in the kinds of programs proven to make a difference to community safety and youth development.It’s time for D.C. to embrace the call for smarter approaches to safety and kids.”