Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969

Author: Richard M. Nixon  | Date: October 9, 1969

Remarks With Participants in the Bipartisan Congressional Leadership Meeting on Crime in the District of Columbia.
October 9, 1969

LET ME OPEN the meeting by saying that, in speaking of crime in the District of Columbia, everybody around this table knows that we speak of an issue that is certainly not partisan. What we are talking about here is a problem that is national, and it is a problem in which the Congress traditionally has had a function which is very special in relation to the District and also special in relation to what the District can be in its example to the Nation.

I have noted in reading the statements that all of us have made in campaigns, and on the subject generally in nonpolitical speeches about crime in this country,that we have pointed to the fact that the Nation’s Capital, the first city in the world, should really be an example to the Nation and to the world of a safe city, a city in which not only the citizens of this city but the ambassadors and others who visit this city can feel safe, within reason, at least, having in mind the problem that any city, any place, is going to have some crime.

We all know that the situation with regard to crime in the District in the past, going back over several years, has not been one that we can be proud of. This is not said in any partisan sense. It has run through all administrations and today it has reached crisis proportions, as the presentation by the Chief will indicate.

Now, what we do about this is something we will discuss after the presentation has been made. But I will simply summarize my opening remarks by saying what is done is certainly related to the actions of three different groups.

First, the Congress has a responsibility. We are, in a sense, the legislative body of the city. It is true that home rule is now being established, but the Congress has the primary responsibility in terms of legislation in this field.

Second, the city government has some responsibility. It can take some action that will be indicated in this briefing.

Third, in the administration of justice, the Department of Justice has some responsibility, and we will have the Department of Justice here to make a presentation with respect to how they are going to meet their responsibilities.

All I am saying here, I emphasize, is simply to present in a preliminary way the situation as I see it. This is not a partisan question, it is a national question. It is a question which I think we want the facts on. We want to know what to do and then it is time to get going and to do it because nobody feels comfortable about sitting on what I think is an explosive, and frankly, when we see these statistics, a disgraceful situation with regard to crime in the District of Columbia.

We cannot point our finger to the other cities or the national crime statistics unless we do something about crime here where we are and where we have the responsibility.

Chief, you tell us the facts.

CHIEF OF POLICE JERRY V. WILSON. Mr. President, Members of Congress, members of the press:

I have a few statistics here, but this is not a statistical presentation, because I think all of you are generally familiar with the statistics, but it is merely to set a stage for the problems we have.

This is the data of criminal index offenses, January through June of 1969. As you can see, the District of Columbia is second in actual number of offenses and second in offenses per thousand population.

In the more problem areas, for example, robbery, we were first, but there are other cities that are close to us. It is a national problem, as the President said. Baltimore is close and San Francisco is close behind. The San Francisco area has a higher rate than we have in the Washington area, but we do have an extreme problem with robbery in this city at this time, and with crime across the board.

We have also presented data which has been published in the press of comparisons of crime in the District, January through June of 1968 and 1969, showing a 22 percent increase in crime in D.C. and suburbs, compared to a national urban increase of 9 percent, an increase in ourown metropolitan area of some 9.6 percent.

I would point particularly to the problem in robbery. We have, again, a real problem area in this city at this time of robberies. In this we have nearly a 50 percent increase in robberies during this period.

To put it in perspective with the past, I have presented data for 1958, 1962, 1966, and 1969. I want to say at the outset that our data for the past years has some question to it. I am not sure how much, precisely. When we say that 1958 was our low year for crime in the city, I am willing to say to you that we were fudging on our statistics some then.

I will give you a 10 or 15 percent edge, and say that our crime may have been 10 or 15 percent more than it is now, but even if you wanted to say that robberies were double in 1958—which was 348, and I don’t believe it would double—we have had a tenfold increase in robberies. These are not pickpockets and purse snatching, these are FBI robberies which include force and violence and armed robberies.

We have had an increase in burglary from 1,700 to 10,000 offenses in I I years, and in auto theft, some 900 offenses to some 4,600 offenses.

This is a projection of trends based on our data for 1966 through 1969, showing a projection indicating that we will rise, unless something is done, from 55,000 annually as of 1969, to some 80,000 offenses annually as of 1972. Note that in our total offenses and in our offenses against persons, we are already going ahead of the trend. That would indicate we may have even more.

These have been statistics, and again, I am not willing to make a statistical presentation. I want to talk a little bit about what crime is subjectively to people who live and come through the city. I want to talk about Safeway stores, and I don’t mean to advertise them, but Safeway stores as a grocery chain, have a large number of inner-city chain stores—42 and since July 1 they have had 53 holdups.

They have tried to combat this with armed guards. The consequence has been that they have had one armed guard killed and another shot. They have difficulties now hiring them. These holdups range from one individual who holds up a checkout clerk and the manager doesn’t know she is held up until he is gone, to an incident 2 weeks ago in Northeast where five armed men go in and make 100 customers lie on the floor until they rob the store.

This does something to the stores. They can’t get competent help to work in the store. It forces the residents of the downtown area to go to the suburbs to shop because they are afraid to go to the neighborhood store.

Safeway will have a quarter of a million dollars in holdups this year.

I will talk about High’s stores, 156 holdups since July 1. It is a favorite of the holdup men. In this case, they tend to hire low-paid women who live in the neighborhood. These women often know who held them up, but they are afraid to tell the police because the man is often back on the street. So it is impossible to find out who held them up.

Liquor store holdups are generally down this year. The holdup man has learned that when he goes to the liquor store he is taking that man’s money, and that man is going to shoot him. So they go to Safeway’s, High’s, or the deliverymen on the route.

THE PRESIDENT. What do you mean they know that the man is going to shoot them? Do you mean they are armed?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. The liquor store people are armed. It is their money. In the High’s store it is the clerk who is hired. The store has a good policy, I would suggest, of saying, give them the money, and the cleaning truck driver on the street is going to give it up, but when they go to the liquor store it is that man’s money.

Let’s talk about the downtown merchants. If you go downtown, you will see that the clerk is going to have a key on a chain around his neck, because the cash register is locked. They have groups of keys—10 or 15. They go into stores and take what they want and go.

Shoplifting is a problem, but it is not the old pilferage shoplifting, it is going in and grabbing and running. It is a real problem. We have worked hard with the downtown stores with this, because the city cannot afford to lose these stores to the suburbs, and this is what happens. The stores give up and move to the suburbs.

Talking about poor people, I had a call yesterday afternoon from a community leader of the Barry Farm Welfare Mothers. The woman was almost crying, saying that the mothers lose their money. The burglars go in and take furniture and appliances. She was telling me about the problem they have in public housing with the children on dope, the 12- and 13-year-olds.

This is the problem throughout our city. Two weeks ago a court of general sessions judge called me and said: "My God, I don’t know what is going to happen. These holdup men stand in front of me and smirk because they know I have to let them go."

I went to U Street 2 months ago, to one of the real estate offices. He had a sign: "All rent must be paid by check. No cash accepted." The door is locked and the clerk comes to see you before you go in.

I went to a Baptist church service. They had signs throughout the church: "All officers and employees are prohibited from leaving money on the premises." That is so the burglar will know there are no valuables on the premises.

Even prostitution is rampant in this city, and we arrest prostitutes who tell us they are brought to town with the promise that they are not going to get jail terms on the first or second arrest; they will get fines that they can pay.

Let’s talk about the factors that have led to problems of crime. I will not beat the dead horse of the Mallory Rule.1 That happened a long time ago. Our crime has come up. We had a ban on investigative arrests in 1962. We have had some crime increase since then.

1Mallory v. United States, 1957 (354 U.S. 449, 77 S. Ct. 1356, 1 L.Ed. 2d 1479).

There are other factors at work in crime. We have had crime throughout the city where these factors didn’t come to work. It is very pointed though, that following enactment of the Bail Reform Act of 1966, crime has shot skyward, beginning in June or July of 1966, and again last fall, as I will discuss later, but largely when the many thousand cases from the April 1968 riots went to court.

These are the long term trends. I think there has been in effect just a general tendency to look towards hard law enforcement or firm law enforcement as being a bad policy.

Another factor that has come about has been an explosion of the narcotics problem,and this occurred in 1966. Part of the narcotics problem, of course, is the fact that we have no facilities in this city for treating narcotics. We have no facilities that realistically treat the narcotic addict.

There is a statute on the book which permits the involuntary hospitalization of the addict, but it has never been fully implemented. It was dropped almost entirely in 1966.

Again, I suggest we have poor sentencing policies. We have a policy in this city where all persons get concurrent sentences. The word is, when a man is arrested for a holdup, he knows he is free and he is going to get out on bail reform, and while he is out he might as well live high because he will get concurrent sentences for anything he does after that.

The growth of the juvenile problems has to be mentioned. That amounts to 45 percent of our robberies, 13 percent of the burglaries and 60 percent of the auto theft. All of these problems were accentuated by the 1968 riots, which clogged the total criminal justice system.

I am one who believes that the total criminal justice system is one that has to be treated. I do not believe that treating the police department is going to solve the problem. But the problem is, we don’t have swift justice. Chief Justice Burger said that many people will be deterred from serious crime if they believe the justice is swift and sure. Nobody believes that now, and they are right.

With robbery, we had our long term trend of crime which literally exploded in our face last fall, especially in armed robberies. In November, December, and January our armed robberies went to unusual highs, from the level of about 300 a month to a level of almost 700 a month.

We had an abrupt drop in February, March, and April. What happened, of course, we think, is that the clogging of the courts from the riot cases probably made the holdup man know he was not going to get to trial.

The other thing was, of course, during Thanksgiving; in response to this, we beefed up police patrols, but in January before the drop came, Judge Hart 2 gave a 15-year-to-life sentence to an armed holdup man and said he would give it to any armed holdup man who came before him.

2Judge George L. Hart, Jr., of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

At the same time, a general sessions judge, with a petty larceny case, gave the man 2 years.

I think no doubt most important, the court of general sessions in February obviously began disregarding the Bail Reform Act of 1966. This change is clearly reflected by the fact that in April, just before our robberies jumped up again, the court of appeals footnoted their letters and opinions by saying they had more repeals under the act than they had during the entire preceding 8 months.

Mayor [Walter E.] Washington pointed out in August that something must be done. We need, as the President has said, movement on all fronts; legislative movement, appropriations movement. We need treating of the whole justice system.

I recommend, Mr. President, that the thing that we need most at this time is pretrial detention. I think the conclusion is inescapable ’that early action has to be taken on change of the Bail Reform Act of 1966. I think this action alone might abate our armed robberies.

We also need court reorganization, butwe know that that will take a year or two before it takes effect. We need stronger sentences. We need more than anything else, other than the Bail Reform, to institute the involuntary hospitalization for narcotic users. We need to take them off the street. Our estimates at this time are that as many as 35 to 50 percent of our holdup men are narcotic users. If we can get them off the street, it will be a lot harder for the pusher.

In police manpower, in August the mayor authorized us to spend a quarter of a million dollars in overtime for policemen; but frankly, we have not seen that much effect from it. I don’t think this is really an economical way of achieving change. The total justice system has to be treated and I can’t emphasize that too much. My greatest fear is that Congress may go home without this being done.

SENATOR JOSEPH D. TYDINOS.3 Chief, I wonder if you would give the President an idea of how many—a conservative figure—narcotic addicts are released each month pending trial, without any facility whatever.

3Chairman of the Senate District of Columbia Committee.

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. I have no count of the number.

SENATOR TYDINGS. Would 500 be a conservative figure?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. There are at this point some 1,600 persons out on bail release at this time, and our data, which is not good data, indicates that about 50 percent of these serious offenders are probably narcotic addicts.

THE PRESIDENT. Fifty percent?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. Of all serious offenders, probably 50 percent.

SENATOR TYDINGS. Would it be fair to say that in the last 8 to 12 months that the narcotic addict has moved into the field of armed robbery, away from just burglary?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. And no real sir. There is no question that the narcotic addict who formerly was involved strictly in crime against property has moved to armed robbery. There is no question.

SENATOR TYDINGS. As you pointed out, the average robber or holdup man is arrested; he figures he has about I year in which to commit as many more robberies as he wishes because of the concurrent sentencing and because he knows he will not be brought to trial for at least a year.

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. That is correct.

THE PRESIDENT. In concurrent sentencing, as all the lawyers around here understand, the point is that it doesn’t make any difference if he is on that kind of a kick, or how many crimes he commits. He is just going to get the same sentence and that is why you get the double impact, as I understand, the moment you let him out. He has no incentive not to commit a crime.

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. And no real fear of getting caught, Mr. President. I am satisfied that this is why we have not had more policemen shot apprehending armed robbers, because their best bet is to give themselves up.

SENATOR TYDINGS. One more question, if you took 900 or 300 of these people out of circulation, what would happen to these statistics?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. If we could get the right 300 people off the street, I think it would probably almost cure the problem. I think that it would do two things: It would get those committing most of the crimes, and the thing that I am afraid has happened is that we have created an atmosphere that not only perpetuatesthe hard criminal, but also draws into it the youngster who sees it.

THE PRESIDENT. Who are the right 300?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. The narcotic addicts.

THE PRESIDENT. Not the young ones?


THE PRESIDENT. These are the hard, tough ones who are completely hooked?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. Yes, sir, but we also need to do something about the youngsters on narcotics, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I agree, but you are talking about the hard 200 or 300, and treat the others?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. It is relatively few. There are probably less than 100 professional holdup men who repeatedly get out on bail bond, and we could probably lick the problem.

SENATOR MIKE MANSFIELD. Chief, to get away from this concurrent sentencing, some of us have introduced legislation which would make the sentencing mandatory if you used a gun in the perpetration of the crime, and it would not run on a concurrent basis with the crime itself, but you would be sentenced separately and positively.

The first offense would be I to I o years, the second would be 25 years. The judge would have no discretion, and in that way the man would be punished, one, for carrying a gun, and secondly, for the crime he committed, but they would not run concurrently, which is the case in so many places today.

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. There is legislation now for additional penalties for a crime of violence while armed, and I have never heard of it being enforced, although it is on the books.

THE PRESIDENT. We can have more questions later.

At this time Deputy Attorney General Kleindienst and Mr. Santarelli will make the presentation of Justice.

DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARD G. KLEINDIENST. Mr. President, Members of the Congress, and gentlemen of the press:

I would like to divide this presentation into two parts: a brief thumbnail sketch of what the Justice Department has done, and then have Mr. Santarelli, the Associate Attorney General, who has been intimately involved in the details of the problem for the last several months, go more into depth.

In response to the President’s message to the Congress on January 31 with respect to the District of Columbia and crime, the Attorney General brought about his first reorganization of the Justice Department to accommodate and meet this problem. That was done in the Office of Criminal Justice.

In the prior administrations, the Office of Criminal Justice had been a philosophical thing, with two or three people dealing conceptually with the whole problem of criminal justice in the United States.

On February I, the administration converted this into an action team, addressing itself to the problem of crime in the District of Columbia. Instead of three persons thinking about the problem, we have a permanent staff of five persons, headed by Mr. Santarelli, together with a task force of ten lawyers who have been working continually on the problem, and together with the assistance of other persons and departments of the executive branch.

As a result of their efforts, working some 60 hours a week for some 5 months,within a 5-month period of time, they have put together nearly 500 pages of carefully thought-out legislation in response to the President’s message on January 31 dealing in a comprehensive manner with the whole problem of crime in the District.

I would like to outline for you, just by name and description, the present status of this legislation which was presented to Congress on July 11, 1969.

The first bill was the bail reform bill to which the Chief alluded. It is in the Congress as Senate bill 2600 and in the House as House of Representatives bill 18036. So far as we know, no action is planned on it in the Senate. In the House, there is a hearing set on it on October 16. The second bill is the court reorganization bill and criminal law reform bill.

THE PRESIDENT. The hearing is in the District Committee?

MR. KLEINDIENST. It will be in the Judiciary Committee.

SENATOR TYDINGS. The Urban Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights.

THE PRESIDENT. I would like to have you tell us the committees.

MR. KLEINDIENST. That is the only bill that is not in the District Committee. It is in the Judiciary Committee. All the other bills I will be referring to are in the District Committee of both Houses.

The next bill is the court reorganization and criminal law reform bill. In the Senate that is divided by the Senate District Committee into two parts, the court reorganization part, which was passed on September 16, 1969, with slight modification, and the criminal law section of it remains in .the Senate and is subject to scheduled hearings in the Senate.

SENATOR TYDINGS. The hearings are complete. It is subject to markup.

MR. KLEINDIENST. In the House, the bill has remained intact in both of its parts, and it is subject to hearings, and so far as we know, there are no immediate prospects or plans for hearings with respect to the entire bill in the House.

The public defender bill is pending in both Houses before the District Committees.

SENATOR TYDINGS. Hearings are completed in the Senate and we are pending markup on the public defender bill.

MR. KLEINDIENST. The fourth is the bail agency bill. The Senate passed a similar version of the administration’s bill on July 8. The administration’s bill was introduced on July 11, and both bills are scheduled for hearings in the House.

Then on September 26, a juvenile court and law reform bill was submitted to the Congress. The delay in the juvenile court bill was necessitated by virtue of its comprehensive nature and, although significant and important just in terms of priorities for congressional action dealing with the crime problem in the District, it was felt it would ’take less priority position so far as crime.

I would also like to make a comment with respect to a request by this administration for increased appropriations from the Congress. We have requested on behalf of the Department of Justice a loan of $1 1/2 million additional to permit the Department of Justice to address itself to the specifics of crime in the District of Columbia, and the District government itself has requested an additional $8 million to deal specifically in terms of increases in crime in the District of Columbia. That $8 million would be part of a total package of $20.6 million.

The Department of Justice requests have passed the House and are before theSenate and neither House has passed a request of the District of Columbia with respect to those increased appropriations.

At a later time, we might concern ourselves, Senator Tydings, with these requests for appropriations, particularly looking to the narcotics problem and the treatment of narcotic addicts in the District of Columbia.

That is a thumbnail sketch, Mr. President. I would like to have Mr. Santarelli briefly describe, in depth, the significance of each of these pieces of legislation.


We will start with the bail reform proposal. By way of understanding the context of this, I think it is important to recognize that since 1789 we have assured the right of bail in capital cases. Over the years capital cases eroded, and now almost no serious offense is capital except murder.

Now under the reform of the bail law, there was enacted a statute which made it mandatory to release persons in noncapital cases, pending trial. The problem with this is that for 176 years, the courts devised a method by which to detain dangerous people. By doing that, the court detained persons prior to trial.

Since 1966 this is no longer possible. Now all persons who are no longer charged with capital offenses are released prior to trial, and since we now have a delay factor of up to 10 months to a year in the District of Columbia for serious felonies, this means that all persons are released.

We have proposed comprehensive legislation to revise the bail law that was passed in 1966. This bill, which Mr. Kleindienst mentioned, does a number of things. It specifically allows the court to take into consideration dangerousness to the community by the defendant’s release when it sets those conditions of release, or in the alternative, it can detain persons prior to trial in the event that the court finds them to be dangerous.

We have also provided in that bill for extensive due process procedures to assure that no person will be detained improperly. The court has to go through a series of findings before it can order detention, and then only for 60 days, and the trial shall be expedited in those 60 days, over and above other less dangerous persons.

We have provided in that bill additional conditions for bail jumping and we have provided that they are consecutive rather than concurrent in their application. That is in the Judiciary.

We have provided a comprehensive proposal for court reform. This applies to the District of Columbia. Presently, it is in the District Committee. The proposal would transfer all of the local, State-like felony crimes and civil jurisdiction from the present United States District Court to a newly created superior court of the District of Columbia.

The superior court would consist eventually, over a period of 3 years, of 50 judges. That is 23 more judges than presently sit on the court of general sessions.

The superior court would incorporate into it the court of general sessions, and we would have a very large court, hopefully able to keep very current with its calendar. We would also expand the present District of Columbia court of appeals and create a unified court system, trial court, appeal court, and the appeals going directly to the Supreme Court. Wewould no longer have a double appeal in the local appeals court and the U.S. Court of Appeals which we presently have.

The jurisdiction would be transferred in stages over a period of 2 to 3 years. In the first stage, 15 or more felony crimes, and finally all civil jurisdiction over the 3-year period.

The new court would have some unique aspects to it. We would give life tenure to the judges of this superior court subject to mandatory retirement at age 70, and subject to good behavior removal. We would create a removal commission which would have the power to suspend, remove, or retire for cause judges who are convicted of crimes, who fail to perform their duty or conduct themselves in a manner prejudicial to the administration of justice and tend to bring disrepute to the office.

This panel would consist of seven members: one judge, three members of the bar, and three residents of the District of Columbia, two of which could be members of the bar.

Another aspect that it would have would be a chief executive for administration. This executive would have very broad powers to administer the court in the most technologically advanced and specific manner available.

We wrote into the bill that computers would be used to the greatest extent to calendar cases. We would have a comprehensive director of social services in charge of all the social programs in the court, both probation and in the family court structure. Part of this new court would consist of a family court division, a rather novel situation in which juveniles and their families could be treated together in one comprehensive civil type procedure with a civil remedy of sanction and injunction rather than criminal penalties in a family situation.

A very significant part of the court reform bill is procedural change. We strongly believe that it was not enough to simply add more judges, but we have to have more efficient and fair procedures rather than to rock along with the obstacle-like procedures that we presently have.

We have changed the rules of evidence and changed the rules relating to mental health commitments. We have provided a local wiretap statute, a local conspiracy statute, which we do not have in the District of Columbia.

We have provided for recidivist statutes, including life status for three-time felons. We have rewritten the arrest power and made clear what the power of the police is to deal with crime. We have provided for citizen arrest provisions, a prohibition on resisting arrest, new notions on search and seizure, and new powers for the prosecution, including prosecution appeal.

Another aspect of our court reorganization and juvenile bill which was submitted on the 26th of September is a totally new treatment of the juvenile problem. We have made waiver of juvenile persons accused of crime to adult courts a much easier practice. We have lowered the age to 15, so those few hard-core 15-year-olds could be waived to adult prosecution.

We have provided that 16- and 17-year-olds charged with violent felony crimes shall be prosecuted as adults, and we have required the practice of requiring jury trials in juvenile cases.

We have elevated the standard of proof requiring new evidence, and we have safeguarded their rights, rights to lawyers, rights to medical examinations andrecord-keeping confidentiality.

We have provided a bail agency bill. In this case we are very much concerned that persons who are released prior to trial on pretrial release, with or without a condition, have no effective sanctions against them for their conduct prior to trial. If they do not conform to the condition put on by the court, no one is to know the difference. If they commit crimes, no one is to know the difference.

Therefore, we propose to establish an agency for those people to insure that their conduct conforms to the order of the court.

SENATOR TYDINGS. That is the bill that passed the Senate in July.

MR. SANTARELLI. That is correct. We submitted our July letter somewhat different than yours, Senator.

We would also provide for a Public Defender’s office in the District of Columbia, a comprehensive office, capable of representing 60 percent of the indigent persons accused of crime. We have a small agency now which represents 10 percent.

THE PRESIDENT. But no public defender. Is there any other city where there is not one?

SENATOR TYDINGS. Yes, Mr. President, but this is a good bill.

THE PRESIDENT. I was thinking of San Francisco and New York, for instance.

MR. KLEINDIENST. They are not adequate in any city, frankly.

THE PRESIDENT. This goes further?


THE PRESIDENT. It .also goes back to the point we made earlier, and some of these are highly technical matters which lawyers can argue on the committee and on the floor, but what appeals to me about the program that has been presented is that it moves into areas in which you are looking around the country and picking the most advanced kinds of approaches. Things that have been tried before and didn’t work, you have thrown out, and things that have been tried and worked, you have incorporated. Also there are some new approaches which brings us to this fundamental point that the District of Columbia could well be a city where we set an example for the rest of the major cities, and particularly because you have here, let’s face it, on the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate, and on the House District Committee, people from all over this country, people who should have the capability and also the responsibility to lead rather than to simply follow.

I think that is really the point. That is the spirit in which I think this has been prepared. I know when we talked about the matter earlier, I urged the Department of Justice in its recommendations to come up with a program not to just patch up some of the old laws we have, so that this city could be an example.

MR. KLEINDIENST. We think that is what this program is, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Incidentally, I want to say to Senator Tydings, we don’t consider it to be the end result. I think your suggestion in terms of the treatment of the juveniles in the narcotics field is an area where we ought to be in the leadership, also. I think that is an area we ought to discuss.

MR. SANTARELLI. The bail agency bill would provide for new concepts in the representation by the Public Defender’s office in all areas: parole, probation, juvenile representation which is not presently existing in the District of Columbia in all misdemeanors.

Turning to appropriations, I think it issignificant in view of the interest expressed here this morning to note that presently pending in the District of Columbia, in the government’s request for a narcotics treatment program, is a request for $400,000 in addition for their narcotic treatment programs, and also a request for a reprogramming of $900,000 previously requested into a narcotics treatment program.

With respect to correction, which everyone is interested in and does not lend itself to substantive specific legislation, but far more to appropriation legislation, the District Government has in its present budget $8 million in additional funds for an improved correctional system for almost 500 additional positions for persons in the system, for new administrative techniques, work-release programs, and a training academy for correctional officers.

In addition, the police budget for the District of Columbia has a $4 million request for 1,000 new police officers which the President called for back in his message.

THE PRESIDENT. I have one fundamental question. In this field of crime, as all of us who are lawyers are quite aware, it is imperative to have a balance between an approach which emphasizes stiff penalties and an approach which gets at what is perhaps the heart of the problem, the repeater.

In other words, it is the treatment of the first-offender and the treatment of those who commit a crime and then go out and commit another one.

Do you consider this program to have that proper balance?

MR. SANTARELLI. Yes, Mr. President.

MR. KLEINDIENST. I think we have also addressed ourselves to the essential interest in the care of the innocent at the same time.

THE PRESIDENT. Do you have a figure in the District of Columbia with regard to the percentage of crimes that are committed by people who have committed crimes before?

MR. KLEINDIENST. The recidivism rate in the District is one of the highest in the country.

SENATOR T¥DINGS. I think it is something like 67 percent within 5 years and maybe a little less within 1 or 2 years.

THE PRESIDENT. That gets to the heart of the problem. The Chief mentioned a moment ago that if he could get the 300 most wanted that you could break the back, you think, of this crime wave in the District. I think, also, would you not agree, Chief, that in addition to getting those 300, that if we could have a new approach to the person who commits a crime and then who is going to continue to commit crimes, a new approach to attempt to reduce that tendency, that would also be helpful.

Do you agree with a need for that as well? I want this said while the press is here. Chief Wilson has impressed me with his presentation now and also because of his record, and also because he does not approach this simply in the routine way that sometimes very dedicated law enforcement officers do; saying, "more penalties will do it."

He recognizes the penalties and the modifications of the bail reform are needed. But you endorse this kind of an approach which gets at this, particularly these young people who commit a crime and then within a year commit another one?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. Mr. President, I think one of the worst parts of ourcriminal justice system, not only in the District of Columbia, but in the Nation as a whole, because the recidivism rate is 73 percent within 5 years, is really that we don’t rehabilitate criminals. Criminals really just grow too old to get out and commit crime.

What happens is that they come into the system at 16 or 17 or 18 and go in and out of the institutions until 26 or 27 and perhaps get married and settle down because they are too old to get out on the street at night.

This is what rehabilitates crime in the streets now and it is a sad commentary on our system.

I think at this point in time stricter penalties would help. I don’t see that as a long term solution.

THE PRESIDENT. But you need the penalties now?


SENATOR TYDINGS. Between swifter penalties and stiffer penalties, which, in your opinion, would be the most effective?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. If I could get a man I year, 3 weeks after the crime was committed, I would take the I year, if I could get it.

MR. KLEINDIENST. I think the Chief and the Senator have emphasized the due process as a preventive process to the arbitrary bail which is posed by judges on a very arbitrary basis. This gives us precise terms in which you can determine safety in a community with appropriate due process safeguards and I think it would be one of the most significant innovations with regard to this problem.

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. The 16-yearold sees the 16-year-old who held up a store and is arrested and he sees him on the street the next day. Two or three years later he has forgotten the fact when the holdup man goes to jail. If you could get them to jail sooner I think it would remove the idea that nobody goes to jail-and they are right.

THE PRESIDENT. To what extent has the question been raised about the increase in robberies, due to the fact that the narcotics enforcement has become more effective?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. We don’t see that as a large factor, Mr. President. This doesn’t seem to have affected it.

THE PRESIDENT. I noted the speculation in the press to that effect. You don’t see it?

POLICE CHIEF WILSON. Our observation was an immediate rise in narcotics prices which immediately dropped off and it was probably more in the area of profiteering than a real shortage in the market.

We have a feeling that some of the merchants were saying there was a shortage in order to jump the price, but this has dropped off and the price seems to be what it was before.

I think our real problem is almost obviously the problem with the court of appeals and the Leathers 4 decision and the subsequent decisions in June.

4United States v. Leathers, 1969 (412 F. 2d 169).

NOTE: The President opened the meeting at 8:47 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

Also present were: Senators Winston L. Prouty of Vermont, Senate District of (Columbia Committee; Roman L. Hruska of Nebraska, Senate Judiciary Committee; Representatives Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, House Minority Leader; Ancher Nelsen of Minnesota, House District of Columbia Committee; William M. McCulloch of Ohio, House Judiciary Committee; and Glenn R.Davis of Wisconsin and William H. Natcher of Kentucky, both members of .the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on District of Columbia Appropriations.

Also on October 9, the White House Press Office released the text of a news briefing on the meeting by Representative Gerald R. Ford and Jerry V. Wilson, Chief of Police of the District of Columbia.


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Chicago: Richard M. Nixon, "382 Remarks With Participants in the Bipartisan Congressional Leadership Meeting on Crime in the District of Columbia.," Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, 1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1048-1049 772–782. Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2019,

MLA: Nixon, Richard M. "382 Remarks With Participants in the Bipartisan Congressional Leadership Meeting on Crime in the District of Columbia." Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, 1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1048-1049, pp. 772–782. Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Nixon, RM, '382 Remarks With Participants in the Bipartisan Congressional Leadership Meeting on Crime in the District of Columbia.' in Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, 1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1048-1049, pp.772–782. Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2019, from