DC Mayor wants to put "Stop & Frisk" on steroids for former crimnals
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is looking pass a law that would potentially violate the consitutional rights of the citizens of the nation's capital. Ms Bowser seeks to grant questionable new powers to law enforcement. If these new powers are granted, District of Columbia residents on parole or in probation will face the possibility of having their person or property searched at any given time with little pretext. If found in violation of their parole or probation, an individual could wind up spending as much as 72 hours in detention without charge.
The potential new policy appears similar to New York City’s infamous “stop and frisk” operations, which was ruled unconstitutional in 2013. Like New York City’s abandoned “stop and frisk” policy, Bowser’s policy would be a blatant assault on Fourth Amendment. However unlike “stop and frisk” is the ability to detain individuals for a 72-hour period and conditions needed to make such an arrest being unclear, in today's climate this new policy would most likely lead to abuse opening the door to violations of Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process and the eighth Amendment that guards against cruel and unusual punishment. Once released from prison you arguably paid your debt to society many legal scholars have wrestled with the question of if on parole are you still paying your debt or are you to be afforded the same rights as everyone else.
Many have argued that parolees’ and probationers’ rights are more pliable than others’ rights. However the way our legal system is designed, no citizen is guilty until proven so by a jury. Past bad acts has no barring on the ability for law enforcement to violate the rights of American citizens. Legally speaking, though parole or probation may be part of the sentence but what about the people who live in the homes with these former criminals? What happens if a law enforcement officer enters a shared domicile and a roommate or family member refuse to let them in or refuses to allow the police to search a separate or ajacent room?
Bowser’s rational is the spike in homicide in the nation's capital. She claims that if people already known to have committed crimes are subject to random and frequent searches, mainly for firearms, it would curb District of Columbia’s climbing homicide rate. This reasoning is dubious at best and would undoubtedly increase community distrust of law enforcement.
This is also extremely troubling because we know that the obvious targets of this new policy will be directed at the minority population of D.C. and being that the Mayor herself is a an African American it is raising questions as to her motives as well.
Muriel Bowser will speak on Thursday and make her case to the residents of Washington D.C.