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Capitol Concern: The Disproportionate Impact of the Justice System on Low-Income Communities in D.C.

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2010
18 pages
This brief focuses on how socio-economic status intersects with the criminal justice system in the District of Columbia (DC).
Findings show that despite an increasing need for affordable and supportive housing for residents, the budget for the District's Department of Housing was cut more than 30 percent in the last 2 years, with the Housing Production Trust Fund losing $42 million in 2008 to $18 million in 2010, a cut of more than 50 percent. DC has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country; estimates of the homeless population range from 12,000 to 17,800 over the course of a year, 47 percent of homeless people in DC are "chronically homeless." DC Public Schools continues to struggle to provide quality education to every child, spending on education in the District has fallen 17 percent ($170 million) since 2008; wards with the lowest median income and highest percentage of people of color have the lowest math and reading proficiencies and the most people without high school degrees. The DC Department of Mental Health's budget was cut 17 percent from 2008 to 2010, whereas over 5,000 DC children in need of mental health treatment do not receive it. Funding fell almost 20 percent from 2008 to 2010 for the Department of Parks and Recreation which provides vital youth programming and maintains safe spaces for children to play. In the District's eight wards, wards seven and five with the highest percentages of people of color and the highest unemployment rates saw the highest increase in arrests. This brief includes recommendations to improve DC's policies and practices for healthier, stronger and safer communities. Appendix and references