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Sunday, September 20, 2015

HOW ARE WE GOING TO SOCIAL WORK OUR WAY OUT OF AN HOMICIDE EPIDEMIC?




It played like an old vinyl 45 rpm record, scratched across the middle, worn from too many times we became inebriated because we had neither general concern for the alternatives of life nor the care to explore them.  Each panel, composed of the sage offerings of their time, chorused the same refrain as the baton tongues wagged in front of them, successfully leading soldiers across the well worn paths that avoided the improvised explosive device (IED) planted in the fields by those seeking to restrict the ideologues from marching forward.  

"Mass Incarceration, We Must Stop the Mass Incarceration!"


A leader in the brigade, baritone voice emanating across the room, solemn yet glaring hopefully into the eyes of the inquisitive chieftain, affixed himself to a truth that only a few knew, sensitively, adhering to the proverbs of Cato, he spoke.


"We incarcerate more people than the nations of Russia and China.  We must not incarcerate.  We must consider this a public health crisis."


A regal woman sits before the chieftain, adorned in the finest of gold, extracted from beneath the glass casing of a successful merchant, tightly fitted, ornate dress, this is that moment we must be exact and refine, the addressing of the chieftain before so many seen and unseen, they must know power which is heighten by the precise attention to detail from the stilettos to the tempered highlights, they must see me, they must know me, I am unknown, she speaks. 


"We can not arrest our way out of this crisis.  We must not incarcerate.  Too many poor black families are suffering because men are arrested and put in prison.  We must see this crisis for what it is--a public health crisis.  We need to give them jobs."


Onlooking, head down, words fly pass me like the breezes that comfort me on my porch, I sit there drinking my favorite draft, reminiscing, they were so young, laughing, feisty little ladies, giving as much as they took, politics, fashion, music, who's the latest with his hair so curly, dancing and singing pop candy songs about first love, missing you, losing you, my daughters grew up so quickly, we have heard this all before, we must address the breaking of the rules with a jobs program and the victim and their family must be silent that real healing can begin.


The real problem in dealing with DC's homicide crisis is that 90% of that District subscribes to a unique philosophy that "derives knowledge from the senses".  In order for something to be useful, it must "feel" right.  It must "look" right.  It "must fit" with what we are most comfortable.  It must "sound" right.  It must "smell" like a flavor I am acquainted.  The remedy for the breaking of the rule of law is to appease the breaker and contort the broken.  What matters is making the solutions to that which perplexes us fit the acceptable norms of the science of our ideas.  We have already figured this out, so the problem must fit our solution.  It has been decided.  The answer is what has always been the answer.  It is the answer when the threat is foreign or domestic.  


When those in power come across a situation or circumstance that does not neatly fit their accepted narrative then, they double down on the doctrinal principles that helped them arrive at their place of pondering.  The great loss could not be the confidence of the citizens or law enforcement.  If it were, why wait until the 111th homicide to hold a public hearing?  The greatest loss of those in power is the loss of subscription to the way you think which sustains you in the webbing of their doctrine and them upon the platforms in which they sustain their power.  The greatest loss that could be incurred during a homicide crisis is one that exposes the frailty of strategy built upon the framework of ideology. 


What will eliminate homicides in the District of Columbia?  Maybe we should turn to the thought of using the economic engine to deter the sincere will of an individual or group to break the rule of law and steal, kill and destroy.  Yes, a job will do it!  The State Department said it will work for urban America just as it has worked for the countries of Iraq, Syria and Turkey.



"We're killing a lot of them, and we're going to keep killing more of them. ... But we cannot win this war by killing them," department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on MSNBC's "Hardball." "We need ... to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs, whether --" 

At that point, Harf was interrupted by host Chris Matthews, who pointed out, "There's always going to be poor people. There's always going to be poor Muslims." 

Indeed, Ken, the War on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)--firstly, not an Obama War because he only gets America out of wars--is a high-level, above pay grade kind of circumstance.  Obviously, we should never Nation Build like under the Bush Administration.  However, we should build a Department of Employment Services (DOES) in Iraq and Syria and make certain that high speed Internet is delivered to every radical jihadist's home.  How will he ever apply for employment without the civil right of access to CareerBuilder, Monster Jobs or the DC Favorite--USAJOBS. The reality is that no government initiative, including jobs training, will deter ISIS from its pursuit of world domination.  Just think Pinky and the Brain and you get the point.  



Homicide in the District is defined as "killing of another purposely, or otherwise, with malice aforethought".  It seems, for some, that the prudent response to the District of Columbia's homicide crisis, likened unto military conflict with ISIS, is to spend $25 million on social work and jobs training programs.   By the way, I thought Obama Care solved our health crises.


"It's going to be difficult to point a finger at precisely what one or two things is causing the crime. But I'm more interested in solutions," Kenyan McDuffie, [DC City Council Judiciary Committee Chairman] said. "We have a crisis on our hands here in the District of Columbia and we need to treat the violence, particularly the homicides like the health epidemic that it really is. We need to take a broader approach than simply focusing on law enforcement."


McDuffie says in the midst of a spike in violent crime, it's important to remember that prisons are already overpopulated and arresting more people won't fix the underlying problems.

Let us explore this valiant concept of social work and jobs training reducing violent crime.



Our Culture of Fear and Death has shown an incredible spotlight on political servants during the DC Homicide Crisis.  Mayor Muriel Bowser has received enormous criticism for her seeming lack of constitutional understanding in demanding expanded powers.  Police Chief Cathy Lanier has been criticized for her ever evolving reasons for the increase in homicides from synthetic marijuana to now, gang violence.  I would truly like to be so humble as to say that I influenced her but I will settle to say that we are at least on the same page in the hymnal now.  Three Council members, two sit on the City's Judiciary Committee, are uniquely concerned about  the "optics" of a homicide surge in their citizens' Police Districts.  The members are Kenyan McDuffie (W-5), Yvette Alexander (W-7) and LaRuby May (W-8).  They have a very tricky tight rope to walk.  Their ideology says that law enforcement, although union based and strong political supporters, are the enemy to the victim narrative propagated within their Wards' borders.  They are not the solution for the ideology represented in their most at-risk communities.  The rule of law and law enforcers are biased, prejudiced and discriminate.  Any attempt to enforce the rule of law is to destroy families, impoverish neighborhoods and to honor "Jim Crow".  The only trusted sources of relief are community activists that rail against the "villains" and "traitors" of society and social workers that keep order among those that receive subsidies to sustain them in poverty.  It is a difficult walk because the ideology protects those that disturb the precious balance of society and insults those that try to keep the scales weighted evenly.  The narrative pandered about in their wards is that gentrification is squeezing people out of "affordable" neighborhoods, jobs are not being created no matter how much government officials try and the police are no longer serving and protecting those in greatest need which is why we need the Nation of Islam.  The unfortunate thing is that the narrative does not fit the circumstances behind the homicide surge.


Councilman / Police District 09/17/2013 to 09/17/2014 09/17/2014 to 09/17/2015
Councilman Kenyan McDuffie (D-W5)

5th District Homicide 18 27
5th District Violent Crime 915 1054



Councilman Yvette Alexander (D-W7)

6th District Homicide 28 23
6th District Violent Crime 1491 1345



Councilman LaRuby May (D-W8)

7th District Homicide 30 50
7th District Violent Crime 1258 1139


Wards 5, 7 and 8 are distinguished from the remaining City Wards for the merciless level of unemployment.  While the Nation boasts an unemployment rate of 5.1%, DC's neighbors Virginia celebrates a rate of 4.5% and Maryland, 5.1%.  The District's unemployment rate is 6.8%.  Only Nevada's and West Virginia's rates are higher.  Ranked 49th in the Nation, DC's Wards 5, 7 and 8 have far worse rates.  However, as the 


Councilman /Unemployment Rates June 2014 June 2015
Councilman Kenyan McDuffie (D-W5)

Unemployment Rate 10.10% 8.50%



Councilman Yvette Alexander (D-W7)

Unemployment Rate 13.60% 11.70%



Councilman LaRuby May (D-W8)

Unemployment Rate 16.50% 14.10%


unemployment rates have fallen in the District, the homicide rate has risen.  


The District is not under-spending in the process of job creation.  The City spends federal and state taxpayers' revenue to the tune of $115 million to subsidize training programs, education initiatives and human support services.  According to the District of Columbia Fiscal Policy Institute, the DC Government has "more than 30 programs across a dozen city agencies that help prepare residents for work and assist them in job searches and placements".  The breakdown of the largess reveals the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) spends $61 million, Human Support Services spends $27 million, Public Education spends $26 million and Public Works, $1 million.  In spite of the wealth transferred, the Wards have the highest populations of low-skilled, unemployed persons in the City.  If it takes $115 million to reduce the unemployment rate by 2 percentage points then, $25 million will make a nominal difference.  The narrative makes little sense in this area.

My question, a simple one since I am such a very simple man, is how are we going to "social work" our way out of a homicide epidemic if we certainly can not "arrest our way" out of it?  Everyday life can be a trial to even the most well-adjusted person.  The answer for many is to find a way to cope with the conditions and circumstances of life.  Traditionally, we have turned to the Faith community and family and friends to gather the strength to deal with the excesses of lifestyle challenges.  When the waves have overcome the journeyers' vessels then, some captains call upon others to aid them and extend relief.  A social worker--"devoted to or relating to home life", either private or state sponsored, is called upon to offer a life raft to those drowning in the raging sea of tragedy or the harsh tides of mental anguish.  A social worker, according to the US Department of Labor's (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, "help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives".  Their mission is to "diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional issues".  The primary function of a social worker is to "identify people that need help".  Wait a minute!  The narrative says that it is criminal for law enforcement to  "identify" people that may have committed or may possibly commit a criminal act.  However, our best attempt at a comprehensive homicide prevention plan is to recruit social workers to "recognize those with greatest needin the community.    



Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) launched a $15 million “Safer, Stronger D.C.” program in August to try to curb the violence, which authorities say has been fueled partly by petty disputes, more illegal guns on the streets and crimes committed by repeat offenders.

Safer, Stronger D.C. launched a community partnership strategy with the intent of supporting neighborhoods where violent crime occurs most often.  Apparently, unaware of the funds that are used by the City for these purposes, the administrators initiate a "new community grant program dedicated to funding non-profits that help improve the lives of individuals and families living in areas victimized by violent crime".  What else will make the City safer and stronger?  Providing intensive and individualized employment services, social services and health services in neighborhoods afflicted by violence.  Now, the Judiciary Committee entertains doubling down on this ideological criminal justice approach.

While we consider this comprehensive homicide prevention plan, the DC Homicide rate has risen from 111 to 114.  Hence, the City has decided that the focus of homicide  should not be on the murderer but on the socio-poli-economic needs of the murderers in the community.  Hmmmm?  I wonder how the social workers missed this one.


The third shooting occurred about 4:05 a.m. in the 2400 block of Elvans Road in Southeast, police said. Officers responded to a report of a man in distress on the street and found another gunshot victim. Deontray Ingram, 22, of Southeast was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ingram’s grandmother Dianne Ingram said the family was perplexed by the killing because her grandson was not involved in drugs and was chatting with friends when he was shot. She said he leaves behind a 3-year-old son and a 10-month-old daughter. He loved cooking and had dreams of being a chef, she said.
“If you wanted something, there was nothing he wouldn’t do to get it for you,” Dianne Ingram said of her grandson. “And he would do it with a smile.”

While it is not a popular commentary, the risks of not considering our options is the loss of many lives, the installation of false expectations and an improper usage of tax revenue.  A comprehensive crime prevention plan should not focus on patronizing community activists and non-profit social justice advocates.  We do not have a public health crisis.  The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to public health as all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole.  If there is a public health crisis, we need to take a look at the efforts of those headquartered at 1108 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036.  Unfortunately, the social workers at this site are not working nearly as hard as they should to prolong life beyond the corrupt pursuits of organizational revenue.

We have a public safety crisis.  USLegal.com defines public safety as the welfare and protection of the general public.  It considers life, liberty and property.  Washingtonians do not feel their lives, their liberty or their property is safe.  Our attentions require a competent--not politically expedient and reactive--approach to the domestic threats that we face.  

We have a gang crises that requires a Council that is entirely soft on crime to forge an intolerance of the domestic terrorism that occupies the neighborhoods identified for social work intervention.  The narrative that identifies the police as the enemy and the social worker and social justice advocates as saviors must be challenged.  Only a neighborhood that knows that it will not be silenced by retaliation from gangs and "lone wolves" or politicians seeking ideological harmony will overcome this epidemic.  

The truth is that citizens are first defenders, police and detectives are first respondents and social advocates are back-end supporters.  It is hard to rah-rah a planner that sought to solve homicides by taking over $25 million from the DC Police Department and now wants to spend over $15 million on socio-poli-economic intervention.  A comprehensive plan must promote the vital role of citizen defense, the essential intervention of Faith organizations and existing social service interventionists and solidify the neighborhood roles of police and law enforcement.  

The City must also admit that its foray into medicinal marijuana has negative impacts on the underground drug market in the Nation's Capital.  While not reported in DC as yet, Californians report:


Patients, growers and clinics in some of the 14 states that allow medical marijuana are falling victim to robberies, home invasions, shootings and even murders at the hands of pot thieves.

There have been dozens of cases in recent months alone. The issue received more attention this week after a prominent medical marijuana activist in Washington state nearly killed a robber in a shootout — the eighth time thieves had targeted his pot-growing operation.

In physics, nature abhors a vacuum.  In business, merchants abhor competition.  While there are many with noble intentions of "recreational and medicinal" usage of illicit drugs, there are those that practice the art of capitalism to the nth extent.  Fear and Death are the trade tools of the underground market.  Innocent citizens are suffering from rivals exploring the immoral limits of supply and demand.  Just as in theater it is difficult to play at once villain and hero, it is somewhat schizophrenic to oppose the underground drug trade while encouraging citizens and their children to plant up to 1000 pots of pot for "medicinal" purposes.  The City must admit that their involvement in the drug trade tenders dangerous risks to the safety of our society. 



During the recent DC Council Judiciary Committee Hearing, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner spoke of her earnest support of the Mayor's and Council's 
"Public Health" approach to criminal justice.  She spoke against "mass incarceration".  She advised that the City needed to respond to the domestic terrorism of murderers by giving people jobs.  Then, she went off script.  She advised that her life was recently threatened by someone in her neighborhood.  She called upon the police to rescue her from the verbal assaulter.  She was gladdened when the police arrived.  They searched the female assaulter and found that she had a knife.  The police arrested the contentious woman.  She admitted that she was befuddled as to what would have happened if the police had not come.  Probably the worst, she imagined aloud.  

Amazing how those with an ideology, a narrative and a office of power find comfort in arresting their way out of a dismal, dangerous circumstance.  However, the rest of the City should seek no such comfort.  Why?  We are going to social work our way out of this homicide epidemic for the good of the public health.






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