A quarter of all arrests recorded at D.C. Jail last year were offenders out on release in connection with another crime, according to a newly released police report.
The annual report on recidivism outlined a larger problem as well. In many cases, police officials said, the figures do not represent different individuals, but offenders who were charged with separate crimes several times during the year. As a rule, the officials said, 10 to 15 percent of the entire criminal population are considered to be chronic offenders.
For example, 1,231 persons identified as recidivists were reported responsible for nearly 3,000 criminal offenses last year. In some cases, defendants were arrested six or more times during the year, each time after being released pending trial on a previous charge.
In some crime categories, persons on release accounted for a large proportion of all arrests last year. Nearly 25 percent of those identified in the report had been released in connection with two or more other criminal cases. In 42 percent of the arrests, the previous charges involved a felony crime such as robbery or murder.
"From the aspect of violent crime, recidivism is probably one of the thorniest problems we have to deal with," said U.S. Attorney Stan Harris. "The number of crimes being committed is greatly disproportionate to the number of people committing them, and that has a lot of the people in the community concerned."
Police officials expressed disappointment with the recidivism rate but noted that the figures for 1981 vary little from those of previous years.
Police Chief Maurice T. Turner has announced plans to form a unit composed of 70 officers to attack the recidivism problem by concentrating on the activities of people identified as chronic offenders.
Of 22,267 defendants processed at the jail last year, 5,908 or 27 percent had charges pending against them in another criminal case or were on release as a result of a prior conviction, police said.
In one case cited in the report, a defendant charged with first degree murder was released on personal recognizance after his case was continued in court. Two months later he was arrested on a narcotics charge and released on personal recognizance when the case was continued. A month later he was arrested again for carrying a dangerous weapon and released after posting bond. Three weeks later he was arrested again for assault with intent to kill.
Individuals arrested while on pre-trial release numbered 1,062. Of those, 731 were on personal recognizance when they were arrested on the new charge. Only 11 percent, or 225, had been required to post bond.
Those who were on post-trial release, such as parole or probation, numbered 2,194. Nearly 250 of those were on probation from D.C. Superior Court. However, the report does not give specific numbers for all release programs in which recidivists were involved.
The report specifies numbers of individuals involved in nine types of crimes: aggravated assault, auto theft, burglary, homicide, larceny, narcotics, rape, robbery and weapons violations.
In those categories, police reported 16,958 defendants processed at D.C. Jail, of which 4,421, or 26 percent, were on release in connection with other crimes.
In the months October through December, for instance, persons on release were responsible for 693, or 41 percent, of all narcotics-related arrests during that period. They were also responsible for 175, or 33 percent, of all arrests for robbery.
Viewed in another way, the figures also show a high rate of repeat offenses in the same types of crime. Of 865 arrests for narcotics violations, for example, 596, or 63 percent, involved persons who previously had been arrested on narcotics charges. Forty percent of those arrested for robbery had records of previous robbery arrests. The rate of recidivism in burglary arrests was 33 percent.
On the average, seven months elapsed between release and a new arrest.