UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
October 26, 1999
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
LEO GONZALES WRIGHT DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan, United States District Judge
The issues discussed at the status conference held June 14, 1999 are indeed serious, and in the opinion of the Court, require further investigation and the implementation of remedies to correct the problems. The Department of Corrections' policies and procedures for housing, commitment, release, and furlough, including escorted trips, of convicted murderers will not make a mockery of the administration of justice in the District of Columbia. Although it is commendable that the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General will conduct an investigation into these problems and make appropriate recommendations for changes in policies and procedures, I would be remiss in my responsibilities as a United States District Judge if I did not enlist the aid of the Department of Justice to investigate these very serious problems and to take whatever action is appropriate under the circumstances to correct the problems.
Accordingly, I will direct the Attorney General of the United States to conduct an appropriate investigation into the problems regarding the commitment of prisoners to the Bureau of Prisons, the so-called Memorandum of Understanding regarding the placement of individuals sentenced for local and federal offenses, the security classification and housing of prisoners by the Department of Corrections, and the policies and procedures for the housing, transfer, release, and furlough, including escorted trips, of prisoners under the control of the Department of Corrections.
The Court is mindful that the Department of Corrections, insofar as supervisory authority for felons is concerned, will be under the control of the federal Government by no later than December 31, 2001. However, in view of the woefully inadequate manner in which a twice-convicted murderer has been processed by the Department of Corrections, and in view of the additional concerns that have been discussed this morning, it would be a dereliction of responsibility for this Court to order that an investigation not commence until 2001. This is especially true at this time in this city when a debate is ongoing as to whether or not there should be more prisons in the District of Columbia. The citizens of the District of Columbia need to feel safe and secure that responsible decisions are being made in the Department of Corrections by responsible decision-makers, and it is the duty of the federal and local governments to provide those assurances to our citizens. Moreover, my colleagues and I need to know that when we sentence and commit individuals to the federal Bureau of Prisons, those commitments will be carried out in a timely and professional manner.
Under the circumstances, I will take under advisement the show cause order issued to Warden Crose, and give the Department of Justice an opportunity to look into these matters, and hopefully the Department of Justice, along with the local offices of the Inspector General, Corporation Counsel and the U.S. Attorney, can address these issues in a timely manner and make appropriate recommendations to the Court for their resolution.
Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that the United States Department of Justice shall file the results of its investigation by no later than October 5, 1999; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that a status conference is scheduled for October 15, 1999 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 11.
Attached to this Order is a self-explanatory letter this Court received from Joanne D. Slaight, Esq.
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