Summertime is notorious for elevated crime rates. Officials in the legal community of Prince George’s County are taking a new approach to crime prevention this summer, however, and hope residents who were once locked up can help.
According to The Washington Post, the police in PG County are focusing on five different high crime neighborhoods: Langley Park, Riverdale, Suitland, Hillcrest Heights, and Glassmanor. These areas have been pinpointed as having a high concentration of parolees and prior offenders, which law enforcement says is an indicator of future criminality.
Fifty-six people in PG County have been murdered since January 1. That’s twelve more than the same time last year. Many of those involved—both victims and suspects—had priors on their record.
Within these five areas, law enforcement selected 233 people to attend a meeting, all of which had previously been convicted in connection with a violent crime and were out on parole or probation. They were alerted to the meetings by their supervising officers and warned that their attendance was mandatory.
During the meetings, law enforcement and Maryland prosecutors delivered stern warnings to the groups, telling them there would be no lenience offered for new offenses and encouraging them to stay crime-free. But the meetings weren’t all about threats and harsh words—job training and educational programs were offered as incentive.
In 2004, the Maryland recidivism rate was estimated to be around 48.5 percent. This means that within three years of being released from prison, 48.5 percent of offenders would be locked up again. Using this data, officials hope to curtail at least some of the recidivist crimes.
Similar programs have been instituted in other cities across the country. High Point, NC., a relatively small town with a relatively large crime problem, has been using a similar system since 1997. Since that time, they’ve seen a 47% drop in the violent crime rate. (How much of that drop can be attributed to the prevention program is unknown.)
People who are out on parole or on probation normally understand that a judge and even the police won’t give them the same lenience as someone with a criminal record. But sometimes a reminder is necessary. David Kennedy with the Center for Crime Prevention and Control says, “The record is really, really clear that they respect that and they respond to it. What happens when you have these meetings is that word spreads like wildfire on the street.”
Facing criminal charges is frightening enough. But when you have a criminal history the potential consequences could be even more severe. If you are accused of a crime and are in need of a local defense attorney, contact my offices today.