In April 2019, the District Task Force on Jails & Justice, an independent body of 26 members, launched a major effort to ensure that any jail in D.C. is only one part of a just and equitable system. The Task Force committed to a process of deep engagement with justice-involved people – individuals, families, and communities most directly impacted by incarceration whose voices are so often left out of policymaking. Guided and inspired by residents across the District and informed by the expertise of our Members, the Task Force developed a mission and vision reflecting the values and priorities of our city. During the course of the Task Force’s first year, we made 17 recommendations published in Jails & Justice: A Framework for Change.
In this report, the District Task Force on Jails & Justice offers a plan that can begin shaping D.C.’s budget and policies now and, if implemented, will result in a transformative system overhaul within ten years.
Although the impetus for reducing the District’s incarcerated population was to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this rapid decarceration has transformed the perception – even within the Task Force – of our capacity to change how D.C.’s justice system operates.
Black people compose 47% of D.C.’s population but 86% of the people we arrest, 92% of the people we jail, and 95% of the people in prison serving D.C. Code sentences.
The Task Force found that unsentenced Black people in D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) custody had a longer median length of stay than white people for nearly every charge category.