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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Crime-Ridden Prince George Apartment Complexes in Maryland: A Microcosm of Nationwide Crime Problem

Prince George County, Maryland Executive Jack B. Johnson reports that about 24 dilapidated apartment complexes generate most of the county's crime.  Johnson (D) told a local radio station (WTOP) that if these complexes fail to better secure their facilities, with better lighting and security guards, among other measures, he will encourage the use "of eminent domain to tear down some of these complexes."  According to Johnson, some of the complexes even allow people whose names aren't even listed on the leases to live in the units, deal drugs, and carry guns.  The Washington Post reports: "Johnson first raised the possibility of tearing down crime-ridden apartment complexes in January in his midterm address. He said then that a report, written by [Police Chief Melvin] High, identified 10 locations that accounted for 117,000 of the 500,000 calls for service received in 2004. The police department later said the figures were incorrect and taken out of context."  Back in the 60s, when they were built, most of these complexes were prosperous apartments, built to accommodate DC residents who no longer wanted to live in the city.  But by the late 90s, they were considered "breeding grounds for poverty and crime" and "warehouses of misery."  County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D), introduced a policy to city government to encourage their owners to tear down the units instead of rehabilitating them.  His theory, shared by Executive Johnson, is that if the number of these complexes are reduced--and their tenants forced to live elsewhere--this group of individuals responsible for a considerable portion of the County's homicides, robberies, and carjackings, would be dispersed, eventually improving the image and safety of the community held hostage by this concentrated group of criminals. The full story from Washington Post [Mark Godsey]

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