D.C. City Council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1), chairman of the judiciary committee, yesterday proposed broad changes in the city's criminal laws that would extend the statute of limitations for some crimes and allow wives to bring rape charges against her husbands.
Clarke's proposal comes in the face of a surge in the homicide rate here and heightened community concern about the crime rate in general.
Clarke's proposal is the result of a two-year study of the city's criminal laws, and is not, he asserted, merely in reaction to the growing concern about crime and criminals.
Clarke, a possible candidate for mayor or council chairman in 1982, has been perceived by many of the council and in the community as being lenient on the crime issue. He pointed out yesterday that his proposed package of crime legislation was "neither liberal nor . . . conservative." He also emphasized that the penalties he proposes for various crimes are heavier than those now in effect.
He decided to withhold for the time being a proposed provision affecting adults who possess small amounts of marijuana, a provision that would direct issuance of a criminal citation calling only for a fine, rather than arrest and trail leading to possibly more serious penalty. Clarke said he would introduce that controversial measure, which was passed by the council and vetoed by Mayor Walter Washington in December 1977, after he felt he had majority support in the council.
Clarke did include a proposed narcotics section that would establish five categories of narcotics. Clarke's bill proposes a range of penalties for use and possession of various drugs, with the possession and use of the most serious narcotics calling for four-year prison sentences.
Clarke's narcotics bill also proposes a 20-year maximum penalty for anyone who provides heroin to a juvenile.
Clarke's proposal also would allow police to arrest and to search without a warrant anyone they have "probable cause" to believe has committed a crime involving narcotics.
Under Clarke's "sentencing improvement" bill, he proposes courts make greater use of restitution and community service, rather than invoking mandatory prison terms, as is proposed by some council members. Clarke also wants to give judges the power to allow prisoners to serve their terms on weekend only. Those positions set Clarke at odds with several of his colleagues.
In other council action, Chairman Arrington L. Dixon yesterday nominated former council budget analyst Otis H. Troupe, now a small business and economic development specialist with the office of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, to be the next D.C. Auditor when Matthew Watson leaves that post in March. The nomination of Troupe, 35, and a resident at 5121 4th St. NE, must be approved by the full council.