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Monday, February 1, 2016

TO THE LEGISLATURES: BINDING OUR REPRESENTATIVES TO JUSTICE FOR THE VOICELESS


Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.
W. H. Auden

Returning home in the very late evening from the State of the Union Address, my good friend, Upward Bound Promotions LLC CEO & Founder Henderson Long, sent me a note via Facebook.  His message, as true friends will do, reminded me that the Battle to bring awareness and solutions to unresolved homicides, missing persons cases and exploited child cases is never ending.  Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's (D-DC) invitation was a tremendous honor to the Open Heart Close Case Movement.  "Too many D.C. residents and other Americans across the country have experienced the overwhelming pain of losing a loved one to gun violence," Norton said. "I am welcoming Mr. McClenton to the State of the Union to honor the memory of his daughter and other families."  I would have preferred Charnice Milton covering the Address as the esteemed journalist that she was.  However, the honor allowed me the comfort of imagining her sitting in the Gallery, writing in her long pad, planning the early morning preparation of an article for her Hill Rag and East of the River Editor Andrew Lightman.  The persons for which this Movement was founded spurs me in fighting this battle against our culture of fear and death.  Charnice and Relisha Rudd will receive the justice due their names.

Ideas matter. Legislative proposals matter. Slick campaigns and dazzling speeches can work for a while, but the magic always wears off.
Charles Krauthammer

Without the combined advocacy of parents, faith leaders and neighborhood activists, legislatures and and administrations will continue the dance that results in hundreds of murders.  Pandering to believers that there are not enough laws on the books, politicians avert public policies that will enable police and prosecutors to perform at the highest level of public service.  Law Enforcers are ridiculed on streets and, now, even highways, by all terrain vehicle and off road motorcycle riders.  Criminals rule without fear of reprisal.  They are legitimized by "don't chase" policies and residents that uphold their leisure protests as sincere nullification of the law.  For January 2016, the District of Columbia suffered six murders.  Of the lot, four are unresolved.  The message is clear.  The Lack of Arrests and Prosecutions seemingly gives license to those that murder.  Without fear of resolutions and penalties, areas of the City where the culture of fear and death prevail are subject to the perils of domestic terrorism.   Children fear the loss of their loved ones.  Parents, unable to defend their families, live out their days in neighborhoods that hope the State will eventually provide the protections promised.  The criminal element double down and further enforce their unrestrained terror.  Wash, rinse and repeat!

When once a certain class of people has been placed by the temporal and spiritual authorities outside the ranks of those whose life has value, then nothing comes more naturally to men than murder.
Simone Weil

Political pandering heightens the concern that Government must do something and that the crime victims' communities offer the best petri dish for societal experimentation.  In the District of Columbia, Crime Bill Proposals like Mayor Muriel Bowser's and Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chair Pro Tempore, offer the status quo responses that leave citizens concerned that their constitutional rights will be infringed upon or that a Social Workers' Utopia will be presented for PowerBall-like funding in the Budget.  Only those that face this challenge directly can solve this prudently.  We don't seek panderers.  We don't seek profiteers.  We seek Justice.  The privileges of the criminal should never exceed the rights of crime victims.  It is in the seats of the power of the people that we can hold administration's accountable, repel the ambitious desires of noblemen seeking higher office and   As for Henderson's late night message, nothing could propel a man more than the question: "What's Next?"

To the Legislatures!

Across the country, state, city and local legislatures are assembling to do the people's business.  Some lobby for the well being of their interests and others for their collective noble endeavors.   It is time for the voiceless--unresolved homicide, missing persons and exploited children victims' families and advocates--to advance upon the assembly leaders and demand accommodations.  Advocates in urban centers that have seen significant increases in violence and decreases in the resolution of violent crime cases must demand better of those sworn to serve us.   
In St. Louis County, Missouri State Highway Patrol Total Active Missing lists 148 persons.  Of the lot, only 36 have pictures.  Literally, we know that 112 persons are missing but we do not know what they look like.  What is even worse, without the victims' picture, there is no corresponding poster.  How might information be disseminated to the public and social media outlets that seek the recovery of missing persons.  "When a child goes missing, the first 3 hours are the most crucial in finding the child safely. Approximately 76.2% of abducted children who are murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction".  This is complicated by the fact that "it can take over 2 hours to get information about a missing child from a panicked parent."  St. Louis County is not the only state, city or local agency failing to meet the singular requirement of making certain that the public has as much information about suspects and missing persons as possible.  We encourage Alderman Jeffrey Boyd and other legislators to fund and monitor improvements to the dissemination of public information about unresolved homicides, missing persons and exploited child cases.


DC Councilmember McDuffie has presented “a public health approach to crime prevention” that will cost the city $3.9 million in the current fiscal year and $25.6 million through the end of 2019.  The District’s Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt said, "the city also does not have the funds to implement it."  We applaud the fact that legislators want to do something to reduce crime.  Wonderful!  Beautiful!  However, crimes have been committed.  They have gone unsolved.  "Most investigators agree that the first 48 to 72 hours are critical to solving a homicide case. Witnesses are easier to locate, and their recollections generally prove more accurate soon after the incident.  Research has shown that in 66 percent of solved murder cases, police take a suspect into custody within 24 hours.  If the case is not solved within 48 hours, the chances of it ever being solved fall markedly."  There are more succinct and cost effective modes of solving crimes and preventing future violence than inviting the local university professor to sit in a kumbayah session with a group of  fiends seeking to blame their ancestors for their modern choices of deceit and death.

DC's Cold Case Unit is an 8 member team responsible for bringing to justice culprits that have hidden in the shadows to avoid arrest and prosecution.  Through the Violent Crime Case Review Project, they review all homicides that have occurred in the District of Columbia – going back as far as records are available.  The review process is systematic – with years being reviewed in turn.  It is a slow process and is expected to take several years to complete.  Cases are pulled and reviewed out of turn when: (1) The family of a homicide victim makes an inquiry about the status of their loved one’s case; (2) New information – including forensic information – becomes available; an (3) An outside law enforcement agency makes an inquiry about a case.  Yet, the burden is greater than a mere 8 detectives could possibly handle.  In the past 14 years, the DC Metropolitan Police Department has recorded approximately 642 unresolved homicides, averaging 46 yearly.  That's right Mr. and Ms. Legislator, 46 killers a year go back into the shadows of our City.  Unmolested by police inquiry.  Unaffected by tireless prosecution.  Awaiting your sincere bid to fund their job searches and stipend their studies.

To all legislatures, I proffer three remedies.  Hire more cold case detectives.  Tell me how many cases can reasonably be handled 8 detectives.  Sincerely, is the District desirous of sending a potent message to Urban American domestic terrorists when they have a ratio of 80 unresolved homicides to each 1 detective.  The DC Cold Case Unit should be at least tripled with the new detectives sited in the areas where violent crime is more prominent.  Secondly, open the doors legislatively to private detectives  partnering with public detectives.  The District of Columbia has about 70 detectives handling homicide cases.  They do a tremendous job in closing murder cases.  However, the criminal industry's production outstrips the abilities of public detectives to keep up.  


Howard Comen, Comen International Detective Agency, was moved upon coming to knowledge of the loss of my daughter Charnice and the extenuating circumstances behind the missing Relisha Rudd.  His compassion led him to seek assistance from his peers in resolving unresolved cases in Urban America, especially to potential clients that could, because of financial lack, never afford high quality private investigative work.  Upon public appeal, Comen received the pledges of over 70 private detectives from around the world to commit to 20 hours a month of pro bono efforts in solving the most hardy unresolved cases.  The detectives have investigative experience from such institutions as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Treasury's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Secret Service and even the Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (KGB).  Yes, even the KGB!  Imagine if each of these detectives could partner with the DC MPD on behalf of impoverished homicide victims' families.  Bringing closure after 1 year, 5 years, 20 years in absence of an answer.  When The Open Heart Close Case Campaign extended this gift, this tool, to the DC Detectives leadership, we were greeted with boisterous "NO!"  Why?  DC MPD does not trust outside groups, do not want to share case information and do not want to verify the licences of all these detectives.  There are those that privately seek to bring closure that a limited government can not offer.  Our legislatures must pursue public-private partnerships in serving justice and securing the rights of victims.

Finally, both culprit and victim's family should be assured as speedy and just an investigation as a legal decision.  I propose that the DC City Council create Criminal Courthouses in Wards 5, 7 and 8.  As the federal government cuts budgets, justice must be meted and affirmed for prosecution and defense alike.  The Courts' greatest responsibility is to uphold the Rule of Law.  Abiding by this duty separates it from the modern social services agencies, private and public.  Judges, while agents of the state, are not supposed to express fidelity to social philosophy as mode of rendering verdict.  Judges are to provide an environment by which both sides, without corruption, act within the confines of procedure.  It is the judge's purview to sentence in accord with the Law.  Juries, diverse in selection, are entrusted with the decision as to the guilt or innocence of an individual based on fact, not fiction or philosophy.  Courts are responsible for the people, from whom power is received to create laws, are those empowered to make certain their voices and laws are adhered by rule.  It does not help that politicians seek to protect criminals from lengthy incarceration.  When murder reigns unrestrained, civility is threatened.  No social worker or infringement of the Constitutional rights of the citizenry will secure the society as men and women upholding the Rule of Law in their community.  Building these courts acknowledges that the people have the power to rule and to prosecute those that seek to terrorize them.  Civility settles neighbors.  Injustice keeps men at war.

Our legislatures must renounce their contempt for solving crime by confounding us with expensive experimentation in crime prevention.  Legislators must fund and monitor improvements in disseminating public information about unresolved homicides, missing persons and exploited child cases.  Our legislatures must pursue public-private partnerships in serving justice and securing the rights of victims.  We must also build courts where they are needed most.  The temporal gain of subsidized peace pales in comparison to people governing themselves in peace.  

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