Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund

Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund

The Washington Post: In D.C., the Federal Government Gives Released Criminals Many Chances to Fail (Part 6 of 6)

Originally published by The Washington Post on December 28, 2016

Written by Aaron C. Davis


SECOND-CHANCE CITY This is part of a continuing series that examines issues related to repeat violent offenders in the District of Columbia.

Over two years, 23-year-old Steven Pugh violated almost every condition of his court-ordered probation for carrying a gun in the nation’s capital: He tested positive for PCP, was charged with assault for allegedly dragging his girlfriend across a floor and pleaded guilty to committing a robbery in Maryland. For months, he had disappeared entirely from his probation officer’s radar screen.

Still, Pugh’s probation was not revoked, sparing him from a year in jail. In August 2015, Pugh was still failing to show up for drug tests and other appointments, but his probation officer did not press for him to be locked up. The next month, a father of three in Southeast was shot and killed. Pugh was arrested fleeing the scene and later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

A version of Pugh’s case plays out frequently in the District. About 150 times a year, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency loses track of offenders it classifies as high-risk, the agency acknowledges. Several hundred additional offenders classified as lower-risk also go missing, and scores of them turn up as suspects in new crimes, according to court records.

But the problem does not stop there.