District of Columbia

Judicial system

All judges in Washington, DC, are nominated by the president of the US from a list of persons recommended by the District of Columbia Nomination Commission, and appointed upon the advice and consent of the Senate. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia functions in a manner similar to that of a state supreme court; it also has original jurisdiction over federal crimes. The court consists of a chief judge and 8 associate judges, all serving 15-year terms. The Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the trial court, consisted in 1999 of five divisions and 16 judges, also serving for 15 years. Washington, DC, is the site of the US Supreme Court and the US Department of Justice. The District of Columbia is the only US jurisdiction where the US Attorney's Office, an arm of the Justice Department, and not the local government, prosecutes criminal offenders for nonfederal crimes.

According to the FBI Crime Index, the total crime rate in the District of Columbia in 2001 was 7,709.6 per 100,000 population, including a total of 9,931 violent crimes and 34,154 property crimes in that year. DC prisoners numbered 5,388 in June 2001, a decrease of 37.2% from the previous year. The incarceration rate stood at 592 per 100,000 inhabitants. The last execution took place in 1957. DC residents voted 2-1 against the death penalty in 1992. There is a provision for life without parole.