The House of Representatives yesterday approved the transfer of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to District of Columbia ownership and passed a bill giving the District parole authority over about 1,200 persons convicted of D.C. offenses but jailed in federal prisons.
Saying that all prisoners housed at federal facilities should be treated the same way, the Reagan administration opposes the parole authority bill. City officials argue that all D.C. offenders should be treated the same, regardless of where they are jailed.
The House also approved a measure, which sponsors said is technical and uncontroversial, to allow the city to continue to borrow from the U.S. Treasury for capital improvements through fiscal 1984.
All three bills were passed by voice vote after little discussion and no expressed opposition. They now go to the Senate for consideration.
The stadium transfer and borrowing authority bills are not expected to have any trouble getting through the Senate, but it is unclear whether the parole authority bill will receive opposition there. A House District of Columbia Committee staff aide expressed confidence that the administration's concerns could be dealt with.
The transfer of RFK Stadium is in line with the recommendation of a White House task force in 1977 that the city take ownership of the facility after paying off half of the $19.8 million cost of building it. The city at that point already had paid $12.8 million in interest on bonds used to finance the construction of the stadium, built in 1961.
"This reflects the view that the local government should own and control local facilities within its boundaries," said D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy in explaining the bill on the House floor.
Under a $1-a-year lease with the National Park Service the D.C. Armory Board now manages and operates the stadium. The legislation prohibits the city from selling the stadium or turning it into some other kind of facility.
The parole authority bill aims to address a discrepancy between the treatment given D.C. prisoners jailed in city facilities and those jailed in federal prisons. Currently, federal authorities make parole decisions on prisoners in federal facilities, and the D.C. Parole Board makes the decisions on those confined in D.C. facilities.
Court cases filed by offenders in federal prisons have contended that their parole reviews are harsher than those of prisoners at D.C. facilities, but the results of those court cases did not resolve the issue.
The House already had passed a D.C. budget bill that included $115 million to be borrowed from the U.S. Treasury, but the legislation approved yesterday was necessary to give the city the authority to borrow the money.