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Lyndon B. Johnson: Special Message to the Congress: The Nation's Capital
Lyndon B. Johnson
71 - Special Message to the Congress: The Nation's Capital
February 27, 1967
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1967: Book I
Lyndon B. Johnson
1967: Book I
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To the Congress of the United States:

Our goal for the Nation's Capital is a city of which all Americans can be proud.

As I said two years ago, this city and its government must be, for its residents and the entire world, "a living expression of the highest ideals of democratic government." It should be a city of beauty and inspiration, of equal justice and opportunity. It should be a model for every American city, large and small. It should be a city in which our citizens and our friends from abroad can live and work, visit our great National monuments, and enjoy our parks and walk our streets without fear.

The District of Columbia is the Nation's ninth largest city. It is the center of the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, with a population today of 2.5 million. As such, its citizens have all the problems--and are entitled to all the rights-of the citizens of any large city in this country.

The District of Columbia is also the capital of our Nation, and the seat of every major agency of the federal government. As such, there is a significant Federal interest in the affairs of this city.

Since I have been President, I have addressed myself to the difficult problem of balancing the interest of the residents of the District as citizens of a large city with that of the National government as representative of the people of the entire country.

The actions of the 89th Congress demonstrate that it shares my concern that both these interests be fairly served. While the 89th Congress did not move forward in every field as many of us would have preferred, its accomplishments do illustrate our mutual interest in making the District of Columbia a place in which we can all take pride:

--A new four-year college and a technical institute were authorized to bring better education and training to our young.

--A mass transit system was authorized to serve the city and its suburbs and an interstate agency was created to plan and build the system.

--A comprehensive minimum wage law was enacted.

--Urban renewal was started for the commercial area in the heart of the city.

--Two new Museums, the Hirshhorn and the Air and Space, were authorized.

--A Commission to plan a Visitor's Center was established.

These actions are an important, and a very historic beginning.

The District's programs for housing, education, health, welfare and recreation must be expanded and improved. Its war against crime must be sharply stepped up.

The 1968 Budget for the District calls for increased efforts in each of these areas. The budget would finance long-delayed school construction projects. It would provide the personnel and equipment needed to enhance the quality of education. It would provide resources vitally needed by the police and it would enable us to combat crime at its source with improved housing, education, training, health and rehabilitation services.

But prompt action on the 1968 Budget alone is not enough.

The citizens of the District are entitled to:

--Elect the Government which serves them.

--Efficient and effective Government machinery.

--Representation in the Congress of the United States.

--Streets and homes that are free from crime and the fear of crime. The citizens of our Nation, as well as those of the District, are entitled to a Capital that is:

--Inspiring, dignified and beautiful.

--A place where the great scholars of the Nation and the world can come to work, study and learn.

--A hospitable location for the scores of foreign governments which are represented here.

--Accessible by transportation convenient to all who visit here.


The District of Columbia, as a major American city and the center of a large metropolitan area, faces all the problems of explosive urbanization--a rising crime rate, traffic congestion and parking shortages, decaying buildings and homes and inadequate health and education services. To meet these needs, the District must have the most responsive and efficient government we are capable of providing.

I recommend a three-point program to bring new vitality and strength to the District's government:

--Home rule.

--Reorganization and strengthening of the District government.

--Representation in the Congress.


To provide a system of government appropriate for the .people who live here and worthy of our heritage, the residents of the District of Columbia must be given a voice in the selection of their local officials.

The citizens of the District today have no voice in the Government of their city. Despite the principle so long cherished in this country, they are taxed without representation. They are asked to assume the responsibilities of citizenship and at the same time denied one of its most fundamental rights.

This continuing denial of democracy is an affront to our traditions and to the citizens who make the District their home.

The need for home rule stems from practical considerations as well. Management of any large metropolitan center, in this era of rapid technological and social change, must be promptly responsive to new demands and new conditions. The Congress, preoccupied as it should be with the problems of this great Nation, cannot be expected to provide the day-to-day management that should be provided by locally elected officials. The 535 members of Congress should not be expected to serve as city councilmen for the city of Washington.

The bill to provide self-government for the District, which I transmitted to the 89th Congress, was designed to afford local citizens a full voice in their affairs and at the same time provide adequate safeguards for the legitimate interest of the Federal government in our Nation's capital. The Senate passed that bill. While the House of Representatives did not pass the bill I submitted, a majority of its members clearly went on record in support of the principle of home rule.

I again endorse the home rule bill.

As I said in my Message on the District of Columbia Budget, "I believe that the last Congress should have granted home rule to the citizens of the District, and I urge the present Congress to give them home rule."


Improvements in District government need not await the passage of home rule legislation. Interim action under the Reorganization Act can bring urgently needed improvements to make the present unwieldily structure into an efficient and effective instrument of municipal government.

I will shortly transmit to the Congress a reorganization proposal to strengthen and modernize the government of the District of Columbia.

The present District government organization was established almost a century ago. The District was then a community of 150,000 people. Less than 500 persons were employed by its government.

Today the District has 800,000 residents. Its government employs some 30,000 people. Its 1968 budget is more than half a billion dollars. This major metropolis cannot be properly governed with the cumbersome machinery of an archaic and obsolete structure.

The District is entitled to have the best and most efficient municipal government we can provide. The Nation's Capital should lead the country in applying the techniques of modern management to the organization and administration of its programs.

The reorganization plan I propose would create a mayor-council form of government-the form which has been found most successful in the Nation's 27 largest cities.

Under the reorganization plan, the President, subject to Senate confirmation, would appoint from among District residents a single Commissioner as chief executive and a Council of nine Members.

The single Commissioner would serve at the pleasure of the President. Council members would serve two-year terms, five to be appointed one year and four the next. The staggered terms would insure continuity of experience on the Council.

The powers and responsibilities which the three-man Board of Commissioners presently have would be apportioned between the single Commissioner and the Council. The Commissioner would be assigned the executive functions now vested in the Board of Commissioners. Like most mayors, he would be given responsibility and authority to organize and manage the District Government, to administer its programs and to prepare its budget of revenues and expenses.

The Council would be responsible primarily for making local rules and regulations-the District's city ordinances. This would include the quasi-legislative functions which are now performed by the Board of Commissioners, such as licensing rules, the issuance of police regulations and the establishment of rates for property taxation. It would also review and approve the Commissioner's budget for submission to the President.

This reorganization would unify executive and administrative authority in a single Commissioner. While the District has been fortunate in the caliber and dedication of men who have become Commissioners, divided executive authority cannot provide effective management for the municipal affairs of a city of almost one million people.

The Capital City of this Nation can no longer afford government by three heads-each wearing several hats. To achieve their maximum potential, District programs--and Federally-assisted programs in the District-require clear-cut executive authority and flexible government machinery at the local level--not divided authority which too often produces prolonged negotiations and inaction. A single executive can bring effective management, direction and control to the task of meeting increasingly complex needs.

But reorganization alone will not assure the Nation's Capital the best municipal government. The District must also be able to attract and hold top men in the widely varying fields required for effective city government.

I recommend legislation to give the District Government an ample quota of its own top executive level positions--supergrades and Levels IV and V. The District government must be able to offer attractive salaries and opportunities for career advancement if it is to draw the caliber of person which the government of the Nation's Capital deserves.

As these fundamental changes are made, it will be possible to effect further improvements, both in the structure of the District government and in its relationships to other agencies serving the Nation's Capital.

These proposals in no way substitute for home rule. The single Commissioner and the nine-man Council will give the District a better organized and more efficient government, but they will have no functions beyond those the three Commissioners now possess. The new structure will make the transition to self-government easier, but only home rule will provide the District with a democratic government-of, by and for its citizens.


A proper complement to locally elected District officials is locally elected voting representation in the Congress.

I recommend that the Constitution be amended to authorize one representative for the District of Columbia in the House and such additional representation in the House and the Senate as the Congress may from time to time provide.

Upon ratification, this would give the District of Columbia at least one sure voice-the minimum possible voting representation-in the Congress. At the same time, it would provide, through the Congress, the ability to adjust the representation for the District as population increases and as other changes make such adjustments appropriate and fair.

Ratification by the States and enactment of the necessary implementing legislation will take some time. But District citizens should not be left completely without a voice in the Congress during this vital interim period. They are entitled to some representation in the Congress now.

I recommend legislation to permit the citizens of the District to elect a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives. Such a delegate would be comparable to the delegates who formerly represented Hawaii and Alaska and to the present Resident Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

A delegate from the District in the House of Representatives would be of benefit to both the Congress and the District in providing a more adequate line of communication on District matters. A collateral benefit would be the opportunity for District citizens, through the experience of biennial elections, to develop additional local leadership and more effective political organizations responsive to the citizens who live here.


In my message to the Congress on Crime in America, I said:

"Lawlessness is like a plague. Its costs, whether economic, physical or psychological, are spread through every alley and every street in every neighborhood. It creates a climate in which people make choices, not out of confidence, but out of fear."

That plague has struck our Nation's Capital. But, as I said in that same message:

"We can control crime if we will. We must act boldly, now, to treat ancient evils and to insure the public safety."

In my 1965 Message on the District of Columbia, I announced the establishment of the Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia and asked for:

--Additional policemen.

--Special incentives to attract and hold first-rate policemen.

--Improvements in our courts to handle the growing criminal case load.

--New correctional techniques to break the cycle of crime, prison, release and crime. The Congress responded and in the past two years there have been significant advances. Working together, we have increased police salaries, authorized overtime compensation for police officers, provided additional judgeships in the Court of General Sessions, established a work release program for misdemeanor offenders and created the District of Columbia Bail Agency.

Through the Law Enforcement Assistance Act, the Department of Justice has provided funds to support:

--Development of a model police radio communications system.

--A police planning bureau.

--An in-service police training program for all staff levels.

--A computerized law enforcement information system for the metropolitan area.

--Additional mobile units.

The District of Columbia Commissioners have issued orders reorganizing the Police Department and the Department of Corrections to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.

These are significant steps forward. But more--much more--remains to be done.

In December 1966, the President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia submitted a comprehensive report on the nature and extent of the District's crime problem and on the quality of the District's response to it. The report assembled facts, carefully explored alternatives and presented a broad and practical program for action.

--The Crime Commission reported that since 1960:

--The rate of homicides and housebreakings in the District has doubled.

--The rate of robberies and auto thefts has almost tripled.

--The rate of grand larcenies has increased by more than 50 percent. The Commission's Report emphasizes that any meaningful attack on crime involves comprehensive and persistent action over a period of several years. The Report makes the priorities clear. We must:

--Develop new programs to deal with juvenile delinquency.

--Develop and use the most effective law enforcement machinery available.

--Strengthen our courts and prosecutors so that persons charged with crime can be tried quickly and fairly.

--Guarantee that our rehabilitative efforts reflect the wisest experience in the field of corrections, so that we can break the vicious cycle of crime, prison and more crime.

--Develop an information and evaluation system which permits rapid appraisal of our efforts to control crime.

Measured against the demands of these goals, piecemeal efforts will not suffice. Crime will not be controlled by strengthening just one or two agencies in the field. All parts of the government with law enforcement and criminal justice responsibilities must be strengthened. Private citizens must participate at every level--from support for the police and promptly reporting crimes, to testifying in court and employing good risk offenders.


Crime in the sixties and seventies can no more be fought with inadequate budgets and obsolete tools than with words of public indignation. The District of Columbia needs financial resources to provide the manpower, training, new facilities and equipment and information systems--to prevent crime before it occurs, to process offenders swiftly and to develop programs which prevent repetition of crime by offenders and return them to useful lives.

Equally important, the police and government officials of the District need the personal support of every citizen who lives here and of the Congress. So long as I am President, I will take every step necessary to control crime in the District and to make it a community of safe streets and homes, free from crime and the fear of crime.

My message on the District's Budget described some of the efforts we must make:

--A further increase in police salaries.

--Additional funds to improve police planning, communications and transportation.

--More police officers, particularly sergeants to improve supervision.

--Additional funds for our efforts to curb juvenile delinquency.

--Expanded assistance for the planning, construction and modernization of our courts and correctional facilities.

To support these efforts, I am requesting $11.6 million--a 20% increase in the Fiscal 1968 appropriations for the District police, courts and correctional activities. I urge the Congress to act promptly on this vital request.


Action on the District's Budget alone is not enough. Our laws--and the weapons of those who enforce our laws--must be strengthened. I propose a ten-point program to achieve this objective.

1. Gun control

Pistols are relatively easy to purchase in the District of Columbia. As the Crime Commission found, "almost anyone who is willing to fill out a form and wait for 48 hours can buy a hand gun." The only persons who may not purchase hand guns are minors, the mentally ill, drug addicts and convicted felons. It makes no difference whether the individual has any need to purchase a pistol. Pistols may also be purchased by mail without restriction.

Any person who is not a felon or drug addict may possess a pistol in the District. It makes no difference whether he is mentally ill, a minor or a chronic alcoholic, whether the weapon was obtained legally or illegally or whether there is any need for possession of the weapon.

Between July 1, 1965, and June 30, 1966, 1,850 major crimes were committed in the District of Columbia with pistols:

--73 homicides. 440 assaults.

--1,137 robberies and attempted robberies.

No civilized community in the Twentieth Century should permit a situation such as this to exist. Experience in cities that regulate the purchase and possession of hand guns and the studies of the Crime Commission clearly show that strict controls can strengthen our efforts to reduce violent crimes. Such controls cannot eliminate the danger of violence in our society. But they can help keep lethal weapons out of dangerous and irresponsible hands.

As the District Crime Commission emphasized, New York City, with the most stringent pistol control law in the country, has many crimes committed with hand guns, but the relative number of such crimes is significantly less than in the District.

The District had a hand gun murder rate of 9.1 per 100,000 of population in fiscal 1966. New York City had a rate of only 1.7. The hand gun assault rate was 79.8 in the District, but only 20.0 in New York. The hand gun robbery rate was 141.7 in the District, but only 45.4 in New York.

I recommend legislation to:

--Prohibit possession of firearms by minors, chronic alcoholics and the mentally ill, as well as felons and drug addicts who are covered by existing law.

--Prohibit purchase of firearms by chronic alcoholics, as well as minors, the mentally ill, felons and drug addicts who are now covered.

--Require that any person desiring to purchase, possess or carry a pistol in public obtain a license which will be granted only if he can show that he needs the weapon to protect his person or property.

--Prohibit anyone from carrying rifles and shotguns in public, unless unloaded and properly encased.

--Authorize the Courts to impose increased penalties where a firearm is used in the commission of a robbery.

2. Power to arrest without a warrant

At present District police officers are authorized to arrest without a warrant only when they have reason to believe that the person has committed an armed robbery, murder or some other felony, or one of a limited number of misdemeanors, such as possession of narcotics or carrying a concealed weapon. The police today may not arrest a person whom they believe has committed other serious offenses, such as an assault or unlawful entry, without first obtaining a warrant for his arrest.

I recommend legislation to extend the authority of police to arrest without a warrant to additional serious offenses, such as assault, unlawful entry and attempted housebreaking. This will allow the police to respond more quickly and effectively to criminal acts threatening serious harm to our citizens.

3. Witnesses

Of vital importance to crime control and any criminal prosecution is the availability of witnesses and their freedom from threats and intimidation.

Existing laws provide ample protections against intimidation of witnesses--but only after charges have been filed. It is not a crime to bribe or threaten persons with vital information before charges have been filed.

I recommend that the obstruction of justice statute be extended to cover interference with criminal investigations before charges have been filed.

In addition, the power of police to take custody of material witnesses at the scene of a crime must be clarified.

I recommend that the police of the District of Columbia be given authority to take custody of a material witness whenever there is reason to believe that he will not be available to testify in court. After the witness has been taken into custody, he would be promptly brought before a judicial officer who could either set conditions upon his release to insure reappearance or make arrangements for taking his deposition prior to release.

4. Citations before and after arrest for certain offenses

District police today spend enormous amounts of time guarding and transporting persons arrested for minor offenses. Even where the offense is minor and identity of the offender clear, the police must in each case arrest the offender and take him to the station house before he can be released with orders to reappear for trial or a hearing to determine whether a trial should be held. This must be done even if the offense involves nothing more than annoying a neighbor or refusing to move on when asked by some local official. This results in an inexcusable waste of police time and energy and often prevents the police from fulfilling more important duties.

New York, California and several other states have resolved this problem by authorizing the police to issue citations to persons they consider reliable to require a subsequent appearance in court or at the police station.

I recommend legislation to give the police discretion to issue citations for certain minor offenses requiring subsequent appearance by the suspect.

Under this proposal, the Court of General Sessions would determine the types of offenses which would fall within this procedure. The proposal would enable the police to release reliable persons at the place of arrest or the station house, thus conserving valuable police time for more important crime detection and protection duties.

5. Bail supervision

Much can--and should--be done to improve our bail practices.

We are now making every effort to speed up the judicial process, to shorten the periods between arrest and trial and between conviction and appeal. This would limit the period during which the suspect is at large pending trial or appeal.

In addition, we must minimize the risk to society created by releasing persons before their trial.

I recommend legislation to permit the Department of Corrections to supervise persons released pending trial. This legislation would make possible more careful supervision of persons released on bail and would help the released person obtain needed counseling and assistance.

6. Procedures upon plea of insanity

Existing procedures governing the defense of insanity contribute neither to judicial efficiency nor to protection of the rights of criminal defendants. A criminal defendant need not notify the prosecution or the court that he intends to raise the defense of insanity. He can wait until the prosecution has completed the presentation of its case and then submit this complex defense.

As a result the prosecutor must either make extensive and costly preparations which may not be necessary or enter the trial unprepared to deal with the issue. If the prosecution is not prepared and insanity is raised, a delay in the trial is unavoidable. But even where the trial is delayed, the Government may not have sufficient time to prepare its case properly.

I recommend that counsel for a defendant who proposes to plead insanity be required to give advance notice to the prosecution.

This would protect the public against needless expense, where insanity is not in issue. It would protect the courts, the prosecution and the defendant against needless delay, where insanity is unexpectedly raised.

7. Civil commitment for narcotics offenses

Last year I proposed the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act to permit civil commitment of certain narcotic addicts. As I said at that time:

"Our continued insistence on treating drug addicts, once apprehended, as criminals is neither humane nor effective. It has neither curtailed nor prevented crime."

I now recommend legislation to broaden the Act's applicability in the District of Columbia.

Full criminal sanctions must be retained against the pushers who peddle narcotics-those who corrupt our children and destroy the lives of the young on whom they prey. But we must begin to provide treatment for those who are addicted to drugs. We must attempt "to eliminate the hunger for drugs that leads so many into lives of crime and degradation ."

8. Alcoholic offenses

In fiscal 1965 there were 44,000 arrests for intoxication in the District of Columbia. This represents 50% of all non-traffic arrests. A few of these arrests were accompanied by assaults or other serious offenses. Most, however, involved nothing more than intoxication-and often just the intoxication of a chronic alcoholic.

This represents a tremendous waste of resources--police, courts and prisons. Alcoholism, as both the National and District Crime Commissions pointed out, is not a criminal problem. It is a health problem. Alcoholics should not be arrested. They should be treated.

I recommend that the laws of the District be clarified so that police and Health Department personnel can take intoxicated persons not to a jail, but to a medical facility where they can receive proper treatment. Intoxication would be a criminal offense only when accompanied by conduct which endangers other persons or property.

9. Criminal law and procedure

The criminal code of the District needs complete modernization and revision. It was last codified three quarters of a century ago. The District Crime Commission cites many examples of vague, confusing, archaic and conflicting provisions of substance and procedure. The District should have a coherent and consistent framework for the arrest and punishment of offenders and the control of crime.

I recommend the establishment of a Commission on Reform of Criminal Laws of the District of Columbia to review, modernize and clarify the District's Criminal Code. The eleven-man Commission would be composed of representatives from the House and Senate, from the Courts of the District and from the public at large.

10. Criminal statistics

The District must have a reliable means of discovering the effectiveness of its efforts to control crime. The report of the Crime Commission points out substantial gaps in the criminal information system. Police, courts, and correctional and juvenile institutions maintain separate and uncoordinated records, often creating conflicts in statistics and leaving the community without a comprehensive view of its criminal process. More significant, the policy makers in the District and the senior police officials lack the information essential to evaluate new and lasting crime control programs.

I have asked the District Commissioner to create a Bureau of Criminal Statistics. The Bureau would supply crime control agencies in the District with accurate data essential to their planning and evaluation functions and would end duplication of effort in data collection.


The District must be given the total resources necessary to mount an effective attack on crime. Its laws--and law enforcement officers--must be strengthened. But we must also improve our techniques for crime prevention, for processing offenders and for rehabilitating the convicted.

We must make additional efforts to stop crime where it most frequently begins--with the young offender:

--In the sixteen years from 1950 to 1965, nearly one-third of the persons arrested in the District for serious crimes were under 18.

--In 1965 arrests of youth offenders under 18 for serious crimes increased by 53 percent over 1960; adult arrests decreased 11 percent during this same period.

--In 1965, children 15 years and younger accounted for 36 percent of all housebreaking arrests and 27 percent of all robbery and auto theft arrests.

--In January 1967, there were more youth offenders referred to the Juvenile Court than in any prior month.

The Crime Commission's report stresses the need for improving our efforts to rehabilitate our young offenders and restore them to useful and productive lives. But as the Commission stated, "The most productive approach for both the potential offender and the community is to prevent delinquency before it begins."

It will be neither simple nor cheap to halt the growth of juvenile crime. But we must commit the necessary resources. I have recommended in the budget urgently needed funds to strengthen and improve a variety of District programs-education, recreation, health and welfare, and the Juvenile Court.

I have requested funds for a major summer program which will provide recreation, training and employment for disadvantaged youth.

I have also asked for funds to expand the Roving Leader program which has had such marked success in dealing with gangs and delinquency-prone youth. These funds will permit the expansion of programs removing the causes of delinquency as well as the improvement of the various rehabilitative services afforded the youth in trouble.

Consistency in these efforts, coordination of present youth programs, public and private, and development of new prevention techniques are essential. The Crime Commission proposed that a Youth Services Office be established to carry out these responsibilities.

I recommend legislation to establish a District Youth Services Office to plan and direct all the services needed to combat juvenile delinquency.

This Office, recommended by the District Crime Commission, would encourage maximum efforts by public and private agencies, as well as by private individuals. It would make available through one source all the specialized services--counseling, remedial education, vocational training, employment assistance, and health and recreational services-needed by the young, their parents, school personnel and other persons working with the youth of the District. It would test new ways to prevent and control delinquency and to restore the troubled youth to a satisfying and productive life.


We must make improvements in the administration of justice in the District of Columbia.

The report of the Crime Commission's study of the District courts is particularly disturbing. The Commission points out that offenders are released and not tried--not from any deliberate policy of leniency or softness, but rather from the pressure of sheer numbers and impossible caseloads.

--In fiscal 1966, the number of felony prosecutions was substantially less than it was 15 years ago--in the face of a substantial increase in the amount of crime and the number of arrests.

--In fiscal 1965, only 15 percent of the adult felony charges filed by the police resulted in felony prosecutions in the District Court.

An efficient police department is not enough. We must have a judicial system fully capable of dealing swiftly and fairly with persons arrested by the police.

The courts and the bar are already engaged in serious efforts to find solutions. The District Court and the Court of General Sessions have made significant strides in improving their procedures for handling criminal cases.

The Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit is preparing recommendations on ways to handle the staggering--and increasing--caseload of the Court of General Sessions, and to improve the processing of criminal cases in all of our courts. One promising method being explored is a program for round-the-clock processing of arrested persons and night sessions of court.

The Judicial Council is also at work on another recommendation of the Crime Commission-the proposal for a Family Court which would assume the responsibilities of the Juvenile Court, the Domestic Relations Branch of the Court of General Sessions, and the Mental Health Commission.

The need to find solutions remains urgent. I pledge the continuing cooperation and assistance of the Executive Branch to these efforts. I have asked the District Commissioners and the Acting Attorney General to review promptly any recommendations for improving the administration of justice in the District of Columbia made by the courts or the Judicial Council and to take appropriate action to implement them.


We must make improvements in the rehabilitation of the convicted offender. The report of the Crime Commission makes clear that the problem which the District faces is not too much probation and parole.

The Crime Commission's report revealed that two-thirds of those convicted of felonies in the District have already served at least one prison term. In addition, the Commission found that more than one-half of the felony offenders were unemployed when they committed their most recent crime.

No matter how long the sentences, most prisoners will eventually be returned to the community. The quality of the help they receive in prison and after release in building new lives for themselves makes the critical difference.

The District's correctional system is in need of modern facilities, more specialized personnel to provide counseling and vocational training, "halfway" houses to provide support during the critical release period and community support to provide employment for persons with criminal records.

The Budget I have recommended to the Congress will permit the District to begin to overcome these deficiencies and to plan to meet the needs of the future. It will:

--Permit planning of a modern detention, diagnostic and treatment facility to replace the District jail and the District Receiving Home.

--Allow closer supervision and improved counseling, training and employment services for prisoners before and after release.

--Provide greater services for youth offenders and an expanded work-training program to assist in the transition from jail to meaningful employment.

I strongly urge prompt and favorable action on these recommendations.

I also recommend that the Federal Prison Industries be authorized to manage and operate the industrial program of the District's correctional institutions. This agency, which has an enviable record of success in Federal prisons, will provide valuable assistance to the District in improving prison vocational training and employment opportunities.

This is the immediate battle plan in a total campaign to assure law and order for the District. Some parts require legislation. Some require funds. Some require improvements in procedures that courts, agencies and administrators can themselves put into effect. A failure on any front in this war weakens the efforts on all the others. Every course must be pursued. We must not fail.

I pledge myself--and I urge the Congress-to take every step which is necessary to ultimate success in our drive against crime. We must pursue every avenue and use every weapon which holds promise of advancing this effort. We will need the total commitment and cooperation of every man and woman in the District, if we are to have a city where civic order and social justice prevail.

As I said in my message on Crime in America, "Public order is the first business of government."


The District, as the Nation's Capital, must be able to serve the national purpose for which it was founded. Its great avenues must be preserved as a tribute to the past and an inspiration for the future. It should afford unparalleled opportunities for the great scholars of the country and the world. It must make every effort to meet the needs of emissaries from abroad. It must continually explore new ways to improve its overloaded transportation facilities.


Pennsylvania Avenue, the District's most important thoroughfare, is the symbolic link between the White House and the Capitol. Throughout our history it has been the scene of ceremonies celebrating our triumphs and our tragedies.

Yet it has been allowed to wear down and become unworthy of its role. A temporary Commission created by Executive Order 1 is now engaged in bringing to the Avenue the dignity and grandeur which it should have.

I recommend that the Congress support these efforts by prompt approval of the bill establishing a statutory Commission on Pennsylvania Avenue.


The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Commission, created by the Congress in 1961,2 recently recommended the establishment of a Center for Scholars at Market Square as a living memorial to that great President.

The proposal of the Woodrow Wilson Commission has much to commend it. Because of its broad educational aspects, I am appointing the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to the Temporary Commission on Pennsylvania Avenue. I am asking him, in consultation with the Commission, to conduct a study to develop a detailed proposal for the Center. When that study is completed, I will make further recommendations to the Congress.

It is my hope that the Center will serve as a place for bringing together scholars and students from other countries to increase understanding among peoples of the world, as well as an important educational institution.


For the District to serve its purpose as the Nation's Capital, it must provide for the representatives of foreign governments and international organizations. Increasingly, the unavailability of space for the legitimate

1 Executive Order 11210 of March 25, 1965 "Establishing a Temporary Commission on Pennsylvania Avenue" (30 F.R. 4051; 3 CFR, 1964-65 Comp., p. 294).
2 75 Stat. 783. needs of foreign governments is becoming a matter of concern.

Many new countries require but have been unable to secure adequate space for their chanceries. Many older countries which are seeking larger quarters are having similar difficulties. The problem has become an unnecessary irritant in our international relationships.

I recommend legislation which, consistent with the legitimate interests of District citizens, would specify an area northwest of Washington Circle to be available for foreign chanceries and the offices of international organizations. The bill would authorize the Federal Government to acquire land in this area for appropriate disposition, as the Secretary of State may determine, to foreign governments and international organizations.


Last year, important decisions by the Congress and by local government agencies cleared the way for the development of highway and mass transit systems required to handle the growing transportation needs of the national capital region. Meanwhile, the National Capital Planning Commission is recommending that a major transportation center be developed in the vicinity of the Union Station, where railroads, mass transit and highways will come together.

I am asking the Planning Commission to take the lead, in cooperation with other agencies, to conduct a detailed study of this recommendation and to determine how such a center might be designed and brought into being. This study will be closely coordinated with the planning for the Visitors Center which the Congress has already authorized.


It will not be easy to achieve our goal for the Nation's Capital--a city in which all Americans can take pride. The problems to which this message is primarily directed-better government and crime--will not be solved over night. Dedicated and persistent efforts by private citizens, private organizations, private businesses and by the District and Federal government will be required.

The task is difficult and success will take time. We must--and we will--succeed.

The White House
February 27, 1967

Note: For a statement by the President upon signing the District of Columbia crime bill, see Item 575.

For the President's message to the Congress on June 1, 1967, transmitting Reorganization Plan 3 of 1967 on the District of Columbia Government, see Item 247. See also Items 337, 339, 341, 377, 406, 466.

Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Special Message to the Congress: The Nation's Capital," February 27, 1967. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=28662.
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