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providing insurance protection against radiation hazards, and more recently, our alliance with the Export-Import Bank in providing foreign credit insurance. We stand ready, as always, to help the government in filling security gaps which are beyond our power to control from a private business standpoint. Our current conversations with HUD and other representatives of government concerning a flood insurance program are further evidence of this willingness. However, we believe a valid distinction must be made between these past cooperative efforts, where human control of the perils is not possible, and catastrophic exposure to loss exceeds our underwriting capacity and the problem of crime protection which is, or should be, within the control power of government and the catastrophic exposure does not exist. We are not convinced either that there is a market problem here or that government intervention of an insurance nature is the best remedy. For more than three decades, the insurance companies that comprise the American Insurance Association have sponsored a broad and intensive effort to combat the types of crime that are related to insurance. Each day there are literally hundreds of investigators, many of them former agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who are working in such problem areas as arson, automobile theft, accidents staged to collect insurance monies, and theft of property. These efforts, which are closely coordinated with the law enforcement agencies, will be continued vigorously.
The member insurance companies of the American Insurance Association, individually and through their several organizations, recognize the essential need of continuing close cooperation of private industries with governmental bodies to intensify the fight against crime. To this end, the resources of the American Insurance Association are dedicated.
Honorable JOHN L. MCMILLAN,
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,
Chairman, Committee on the District of Columbia,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in response to the request of Congressmen Hagen and Adams for the views of the Department of Justice on H. R. 6143, a bill "To provide a comprehensive program for the control of drunkenness and the prevention and treatment of alcoholism in the District of Columbia."
H.R. 6143 would amend or repeal the existing criminal laws of the District of Columbia relating to intoxication and the rehabilitation of alcoholics, so as to differentiate between the criminal offender and the non-criminal alcoholic, and to establish a comprehensive program for dealing with alcoholism primarily as a public health problem.
Title II would amend 25–128, District of Columbia Code, to provide as follows: (a) Intoxication that endangers the safety of another person or property shall be a crime.
(b) Drinking in public will constitute a criminal offense only if it causes a public disturbance, and if the person who is drinking refuses to stop his drinking and disturbance when requested by the police. However, drinking in a vehicle remains a criminal offense.
(c) No criminal charges will be brought against inebriates under the disorderly conduct, loitering, vagrancy or other related misdemeanor provisions of the Criminal Code. Disorderly intoxication absent danger to persons or property will be handled under the bill's provisions for non-criminal alcoholics.
(d) In lieu of making an arrest for violations of section 25-128, the police are authorized to take an intoxicated person home or to a public or private health facility.
Title III would repeal Chapter 5 of Title 24, District of Columbia Code, [Rehabilitation of Alcoholics] and add a new chapter to Title 6 [Health and Safety] prescribing programs for dealing with alcoholics and alcoholism, and stressing the public health aspects of the problem. It would establish a Bureau of Alcoholism Control within the Department of Public Health, to effectuate the policies and coordinate the programs that the legislation anticipates. The bill calls for the construction of one or more detoxification centers with at least 200 beds, an in-patient facility with at least 500 beds, which may not be a part of or at the same location as a correctional institution; out-patient after-care facilities, including residential
facilities with at least 2000 beds, and other supportive facilities. There are provisions for the protective custody of incapacitated inebriates, including those who are merely drunk and those who are charged with serious criminal offenses; for the diagnosis and in-patient treatment of chronic alcoholics; for voluntary outpatient and after-care treatment; and for civil commitment of chronic alcoholics whose behavior constitutes a continuing danger to the safety of themselves or others.
H.R. 6143 has been tailored to carry out the major recommendations of the District of Columbia Crime Commission. Like Title VIII of the District of Columbia Crime Reduction Act of 1967 (H.R. 7327), it deals with the noncriminal treatment of alcoholics. But whereas the Administration bill limits itself to amending the intoxication laws so as to require a danger to the safety of another's person or property in order to constitute a crime, and to authorize the protective custody of inebriated persons, H. R. 6143 goes further in amending the criminal laws and establishing new treatment procedures and facilities.
We endorse the goals which H.R. 6143 seeks to effectuate and we urge that the Committee give both this proposal and Title VIII of the Administration bill serious consideration in order to formulate an enlightened program for the control of alcoholism in the District of Columbia. To assist the Committee in so doing, we are enclosing herewith a commentary upon certain provisions of the bill in comparison with Title VIII of the District of Columbia Crime Reduction Act of 1967.
The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there is no objection to the submission of this report from the standpoint of the Administration's program. Sincerely,
COMMENTARY ON H. R. 6143 AND TITLE VIII, H.R. 7327
1. Section 201 of Title II amends the law to provide: First, that intoxication that endangers the safety of another person or property shall be a crime. Second, drinking in public will constitute a criminal offense only if it causes a public disturbance and if the person involved refuses to stop his drinking and disturbance when requested by the police. Public intoxication and public drinking per se are not crimes.
Title VIII of the District of Columbia Crime Reduction Act (H. R. 7327) does not change the law with regard to public drinking. It does change the law with regard to intoxication, by providing that persons who are intoxicated in the District of Columbia shall not be subject to arrest unless they are conducting themselves in a manner which endangers the safety of others or property. Absent any danger to other persons or property, persons who are intoxicated may be taken into protective custody.
Under present law, merely being intoxicated in public is a crime. However, under Easter v. District of Columbia, 361 F. 2d 50 (D.C. Cir. 1966) chronic alcoholism is a legal defense to the charge of intoxication and may result in the release of the person so charged. The decision requires a new approach to the problem of chronic alcoholism to replace the traditional punitive approach.
H. R. 6143 is in substantial accord with Title VIII, except on the issue of whether public drinking, absent a disturbance of the peace, should constitute a crime. H.R. 6143 reflects the view that it makes no sense to do away with public intoxication as a crime but to retain public drinking as an offense. We admit the logic of this position, but we believe it is for the legislature to decide whether citizens will condone drinking in streets, parks, and other public places.
2. We seriously question the desirability of the prohibition in this section against arresting any intoxicated person under 22-1107 (unlawful assembly— profane and indecent language), 22-1121 (disorderly conduct), 22-3302 et seq. (vagrancy) or related misdemeanor provisions of the D.C. Code. Under these exclusions the person who is nonintoxicated may be arrested for using obscene language, being disorderly, or being a vagrant whereas the intoxicated person cannot be. Although we are sympathetic with the purpose of these provisions, which is to prevent the possibility that arrests under these sections of the Code will replace arrests previously made under the public intoxication statute, we cannot endorse them. We believe that all defendants-intoxicated or not-should be subject to arrest upon the same conduct and that those who are intoxicated should be taken to a detoxification center or otherwise afforded medical treatment. If
remedial legislation is considered desirable in the field of vagrancy law, it should apply equally to all offenders.
3. Section 202 of Title II contains specific authorization for a member of the police in lieu of making an arrest to send home or to a public or private health facility any person who is intoxicated and in violation of section 25-128. We recommend that the same provisions be extended to persons who are intoxicated and violating sections 22-1107, 22-1121, and 22-3302 et seq., and that the test be revised to assure that persons dangerous to themselves or others will not be sent home or to private facilities.
Title VIII of H.R. 7327 does not contain a comparable provision, but under existing law the Metropolitan Police Department has reaffirmed a regulation of 1939 which declared:
"District Inspectors shall direct Commanding Officers to instruct members of their commands, whenever reasonable and proper, to permit a person under the influence of alcoholic beverage to go home instead of arresting him. Provided, however, the person's condition is such that he is not likely to injure himself or others and is not likely to be a source of public complaint or a subject of a police report."
4. Section 6-1401 of Title III would permit an inebriate to be held at a detoxification center "until he is sober and no longer incapacitated, but in any event no longer than 72 hours". We believe that this length of time may raise a question of infringement of a patient's civil liberties We think that a patient should be involuntarily confined only until such time as he is no longer incapacitated, and that "incapacitated" should be clearly defined to prevent any potential abuse. He may be encouraged voluntarily to remain longer for such treatment as is necessary or beneficial. Title VIII of H.R. 7327 provides simply that a person taken into protective custody may be "detained until he is no longer intoxicated."
5. A material difference in the two bills arises in the matter of who shall be taken to detoxification centers. The District of Columbia Crime Commission recommended that all persons arrested for disorderly intoxication or taken into protective custody as incapacitated inebriates should be taken to an emergency care unit for medical attention and diagnosis, followed by appropriate prosecutive action or treatment referral. (Report of the President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia, 1966, at page 503). This plan has been pursued successfully in St. Louis, Missouri, where a model program for alcoholism control has been in operation since 1965, and is the scheme which H.R. 6143 incorporates. Title VIII of H.R. 7327 provides that "absent any danger to other persons or property, persons who are intoxicated may be taken into protective custody." It contemplates that the potentially dangerous inebriates charged with a criminal offense will continue to be arrested and taken to jail.
We recognize the necessity of bringing every person who is intoxicated promptly before an examining physician, whether or not he is charged with a crime. Deaths of neglected alcoholics in cell blocks must not be tolerated. However, whether even a potentially dangerous offender shall be brought to a detoxification center or a penal institution must depend upon whether the centers can provide adequate security to protect the safety of other patients and the public. If all inebriates are to be brought to detoxification centers, the cost of maintaining maximum security at the centers must be taken into consideration, as compared to the cost of providing adequate medical facilities in the jails.
6. H.R. 6143 requires that the registration and other records of a detoxification center shall remain confidential, and may be disclosed only to medical personnel for purposes of diagnosis, treatment, and court testimony. We suggest that a provision also be added to make the records available for use in pre-sentance reports.
Title VIII of H.R. 7327 would not go so far to protect the confidentiality of detoxification records. It provides merely that detention at such a facility should not be considered an arrest, or be recorded as such.
7. H.R. 6143 contains two procedures for civil commitment which are not paralleled in Title VIII of the Administration bill:
First, the chronic alcoholic who is in immediate danger of substantial physical harm may be committed for up to 30 days.
Second, civil commitment may be ordered by the Court for a chronic alcoholic who is charged with a crime and voluntarily requests treatment prior to trial, or who is charged with a crime and acquitted on the ground of chronic alcoholism. or who is committed of drunk and disorderly conduct and found to be a continuing
danger to the safety of other persons. Before civil commitment may be ordered, the court must find that the individual is a chronic alcoholic, that commitment has a substantial possibility for success, and that adequate and appropriate treatment is available. The term of commitment shall be no longer than the maximum sentence that could have been imposed. We find no fault with the procedure thus outlined, but we believe that the limitation thereafter imposed on petition for writ of habeas corpus would be unconstitutional (sec. 6–1407(d)).
Neither in existing law nor in- Title VIII of H. R. 7327 is there provision for the commitment of an alcoholic who is not charged with a crime. The District of Columbia Crime Commission recognized that the constitutionality of a civil commitment law for alcoholics, in the absence of a criminal charge, is unclear due to a division in Federal court opinions. It stated that a narrowly drawn statute, providing for short-term commitment of severely debilitated chronic alcoholics who pose a direct threat of immediate injury to themselves, might prove a useful adjunct to a treatment program. (Report, at page 499.) We believe that the provisions of H.R. 6143 fall within this definition.
For the alcoholics who are charged with crime, the effect of H.R. 6143 is substantially the same as that of the commitment provisions of the 1947 Alcoholic Rehabilitation Act. (D.C. Code 501 et seq.) The Act authorizes the court to suspend criminal proceedings and after a hearing make a renewable 90-day commitment.
8. The proposals differ substantially in that H. R. 6143 is tied into a comprehensive program for treatment after detoxification is accomplished, whereas the Administration's bill is limited to dealing with the alcoholic within the criminal process. In many respects H. R. 6143 takes over where the Administration's bill leaves off. We assume that substantial professional and expert review by medical and alcoholism authorities will be required prior to a final judgment as to the legislative soundness of the rehabilitative provisions, and we will not comment upon them in detail at this time. However, we will be glad to explore the possibilities of legislating a program with the committee. Title VIII does not provide for rehabilitative treatments, but existing law vests authority in the District of Columbia Commissioners to undertake such programs.
9. A further material difference in the bills is that H.R. 6143 calls for the construction of a number of specifically prescribed facilities such as detoxification centers having a total capacity of at least 200 beds, an in-patient extended care facility with at least 500 beds, and out-patient care facilities housing a total capacity of at least 200 beds, an in-patient extended care facility with at least 500 beds, and out-patient care facilities housing a total capacity of at least 2,000 beds. The Administration's bill will also require the availability of facilities not yet constructed. We are informed by the District of Columbia Commissioners that plans are proceeding for the erection of a 50-bed emergency care unit within the District, and a rehabilitation center for alcoholics which will accommodate 300 to 500 patients at the Women's Reformatory at Occoquan, Virginia. In addition, the 1968 Budget estimates submitted to the Congress are said to include a request for funds for plans and specifications for a facility for alcoholics at an estimated cost of $4.8 million, to house a total of 200 patients under ideal conditions and 400-500 under emergency conditions. The requirements of the construction program will vary according to how extensive a program is undertaken, but the issue of appropriations must not be overlooked.
10. We believe that a comprehensive program for the control and treatment of alcoholism which would combine certain features of H.R. 6143 and of Title VIII of H.R. 7327 could be developed. If the Committee wishes, we would be glad to provide assistance in the drafting of such a measure.
WASHINGTON BUILDING CONGRESS, INC.,
Honorable JOHN MCMILLAN,
Chairman, Committee on the District of Columbia,
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Fully recognizing the immediate need for adequate anti-crime legislation, the Washington Building Congress, representing some 1600 members in the construction industry in this area, urges your support for the speedy enactment of such a measure.
As the largest construction trade association in the area, we represent architects, general and subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers, insurance, mortgage firms and labor representatives.
We are gravely concerned and seriously affected by the ever increasing number of robberies, vandalism and malicious destruction of expensive equipment on buildings under construction. It has become necessary to constantly maintain guards and watchmen on our construction projects, Because of the heavy losses incurred, insurance rates have greatly increased and, in some instances, we cannot even obtain coverage. Because of the repeated destruction of windows by young hoodlums, glass breakage is no longer covered in insurance policies issued to our contractors.
We could cite you hundreds of specific cases, such as sand being thrown into engines and gears of expensive grading equipment; copper tubing ripped out of nearly completed buildings; breaking into heavily locked storage sheds to steal tools and equipment; even instances where water heaters, stores, bath and kitchen equipment have been stolen and hauled away.
Even though guards are hired to patrol these construction sites, many projects are so large it would take an extensive force to keep constant surveillance which is most expensive. There have been instances where guards were mobbed, beaten and robbed, and left tied while the looter ransacked the site.
In addition to the above experiences in the construction industry, we are vitally concerned about the growing dangers to others who are engaged in service to our city, the senseless robberies and murders committed at all hours, and street muggings. It is a sad state of affairs when crime is allowed to run rampant in our Nation's Capital!
The Washington Building Congress earnestly supports efforts to combat crime. We urge immediate and stringent legislative measures to supply our law enforcement officials with the proper judical tools to bring about positive results in this regard.
JOHN J. MCDERMOTT, President, Washington Building Congress.
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR A RESPONSIBLE FIREARMS POLICY,
Washington, D. C., 20002, May 5, 1967.
House Committee on the District of Columbia,
DEAR MR. CHIRMAN: In the absence of an opportunity to testify before your Committee on Title I (Gun Control) of the District crime bill (H.R. 7327), we are presenting this brief statement of our views for the record.
Our organization was established in February of this year for the overall purpose of focusing attention, as part of a broad program of public education, on the importance of a responsible firearms policy that serves and protects the public interest by limiting in effective and reasonable ways the extent to which society sanctions the availability of guns. Enclosed with this letter is a copy of our official "Statement of Purpose", which we trust will also be included in the published record of your proceedings.
We support Title I of the bill as a minimum of the kind of corrective action needed for responsible firearms law in the District and as an essential component of an effective anti-crime program. The District crime statistics, with which we are certain your Committee is familiar, indicate the accelerating importance of gun use in an increasingly serious crime problem. Existing laws are not adequate, in the sense (a) of not covering a sufficient area of disqualification for possession of handguns (e.g., present law on possession does not extend to mental incompetents, chronic alcoholics, users of dangerous drugs, and persons under 21 years of age), and (b) of not providing adequate means of effectively achieving the objectives of the permit requirements for purchasing handguns (e.g., considerable private sales are made to prohibited categories of individuals without the Government's knowledge or ability to penalize).