Monday, March 16, 2009

Project Disarm: Going "Federal" on the Most Violent Offenders

Today we received an update on a proactive law enforcement strategy that we initiated when I first got to the Commission in 2007. It's called Project Disarm, and it drops the "hammer" on the worst of the worst violent offenders in our County by seeking federal prosecution for federal gun and other charges.

The underlying purpose is to aggressively seek "federal time" for those criminals who, among other crimes, are felons in possession of a weapon (weapons "under disability"), which is a federal crime requiring long sentences. This has a triple benefit: maximum time for the most dangerous criminals and gang members in our community; transferral to the federal system for those sentences (ie. out of our overcrowded and costly county and state systems); and maximum deterrence of committing these crimes in the first place.

I was a big proponent of this approach when I was at the City, and committed to supporting it as much as possible once I got to the County. So in 2007, we added dollars to fund its expansion in the County.

Well, today's report showed marked progress:

  • The prosecutor's office, with an additional prosecutor and an additional investigator, has taken the project countywide, and has now worked with police departments and prosecuted criminals from Elmwood Place, to Springfield Township, and a number of others.
  • The number of cases has more than doubled since we started funding the expanded approach--from 12 in 2005, 25 in 2006, 30 in 2007 (transition to the expanded approach), and 51 in 2008.
  • The average sentence of those criminals who are placed under the "Project Disarm" strategy is 87 months! Far longer than what they would have seen in the state system
  • The "hammer" of Project Disarm has provided other benefits, including: close cooperation with the highly successful CIRV initiative of the City of Cincinnati, the dismantling of several violent street gangs, and the development of significant evidence that has helped solve over 30 homicides, as well as other firearms and narcotics cases (ie. knowing a long sentence is likely, those who face such charges under Project Disarm have given up far more information than they otherwise would have).

In short, this has been a great success, which explains why we have kept funding Project Disarm despite our tough budgets.

Thanks to all, particularly those in the Prosecutor's Office and the United States Attorney's Office, who have helped make it a success.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's great that you are implementing programs like Project Disarm to make our criminal justice system more effective. It's this kind of strategic approach that can make a difference long term in increasing public safety and in reducing Justice Center overcrowding. It also shows great cooperation between Hamilton County, the City of Cincinnati, and other local municipalities, too. This is exciting! Thank you!

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