Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the District of Columbia Crime Bill.

December 27, 1967

LAST YEAR I withheld my approval from a D.C. crime bill. In my judgment, that bill would not have served the people of Washington as an effective crime-fighting weapon. Moreover, it would have seriously invaded individual rights.

I have given the most careful consideration to the bill before me now. I find it in many respects a substantial improvement.

It contains provisions which will clearly help the fight against crime. --The District policeman will now be able to issue a simple citation to a person he arrests on a misdemeanor charge, instead of wasting time taking the offender to the station house.

--The city will now have a clear and forceful antiriot law.

--For the first time since the turn of the century, the District's criminal code will be given a comprehensive review.

On the other hand I must call special attention to two provisions--one virtually unchanged from last year's measure, the other modified.

The first specifies minimum sentences for certain crimes. As I pointed out last year, minimum sentence requirements are a backward step in modern correctional policy. They deprive our judges of the discretion-traditional in our system of law--to fix sentences on the basis of an individual's record and character.

The second provision allows 3 hours of questioning by the police before the arrested person is taken to a judicial officer.

The effectiveness of this provision will depend on the quality of its administration and the spirit of fairness with which it is carried out. In our system of government, statements taken from an accused can never be a substitute for careful and painstaking work by law officers.

In the last session of the Congress, I recommended a Safe Streets and Crime Control Act to help local communities meet their local responsibilities in fighting the causes of crime. This measure demands the most urgent attention of the Congress upon its return.

That measure emphasizes what we all know--crime is a local problem.

That is true in the District of Columbia, as in every other city of this land.

The bill before me today has the support of the mayor and the administration of the city of Washington.

I am signing this bill in the belief that their careful attention to all its provisions will assure an effective campaign for the public order.

I am confident that if the administration of the law reveals the need for change, that need will be reported--and subsequently met.

No more serious domestic problem faces America than the growing menace of crime in our streets.

I hope the Congress in the next session will address itself to the business still undone:

--Strict gun control legislation to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

--Higher police salaries for which funds have already been appropriated. I hope that the Congress will also look beyond the Capital City to the problem of crime in all cities.

The will to solve this problem must engage us all. Public order is the structure on which any society grows and prospers.

The bill I sign today recognizes the seriousness of the problem and affirms America's intention to win this fight.

Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 10783) is Public Law 90-226 (81 Stat. 734). The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 was approved by the President on June 19, 1968 (Public Law 90-351, 82 Stat. 197).

Public Law 90-226, "An Act Relating to Crime and Criminal Procedure in the District of Columbia," was the final bill signed by the President during 1967. Earlier, on December 16, the White House made public a report on the legislative record of the first session of the 90th Congress, as follows:


By all yardsticks, this session was productive. This Congress continued the chapter of progress begun by the 88th and 89th Congresses. But its steps forward in the first session were not as great as the 89th.1

1 Additional information on laws passed later by Congress has been supplied in brackets by the editors of this volume.

Many of the measures passed--including the Wholesome Meat Act, the Air Pollution Act, the Flammable Fabrics Act, the Social Security benefits and the Public Television Act--will better the lives of millions of Americans for years to come.

But important unfinished business still remains-some of it most serious, like the failure of the Congress to pass the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act and the tax legislation. We hope that the unfinished business of the first session will be transformed in the second session into a record of achievement for the American people.

In this report we list first the unfinished business. We then set out principal measures that were passed.


1. The Tax Surcharge--to combat inflation and prevent a high interest rate spiral. [Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968, approved June 28, 1968; Public Law 90-364, 82 Stat. 251]

2. The Safe Streets and Crime Control Act--to strengthen local police forces in every city and community. The House passed the measure, although not in the form the Administration recommended. [Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, approved June 19, 1968; Public Law 90-351, 82 Stat. 197]

3. The Gun Control Law--to keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands.

4. Truth-in-Lending--to require the seller to fairly and honestly disclose his interest charges. It passed the Senate. [Consumer Credit Protection Act, approved May 29, 1968; Public Law 90-321, 82 Stat. 146]

5. Pipeline Safety--to protect homes and crowded cities against the hazards of pipeline explosions. It passed the Senate.

6. Election Reform--to increase public confidence and participation in the electoral process. It passed the Senate.

7. Civil Rights--no action on fair housing. The Senate passed a bill requiring fair Federal jury selection. The House passed a measure affording greater protection to persons exercising their lawful civil rights.

8. Higher Education Act--to help America's colleges build the classrooms to educate the growing numbers of students. [Higher Education Act of 1965, amendments, approved August 3, 1968; Public Law 90-460, 82 Stat, 634]

9. Juvenile Delinquency Prevention--to help communities fight delinquency and prevent potential delinquents from becoming actual delinquents. It passed the House. [Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control Act of 1968, approved July 31, 1968; Public Law 90-445, 82 Stat. 462]

10. Right to Privacy to guard against wiretapping and other invasions of privacy.

11. Export-Import Bank--to help finance our exports and ease our balance of payments problem. It passed the Senate. [Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, amendments, approved March 13, 1968; Public Law 90-267, 82 Stat. 47---Export-Import Bank loans, extension, approved July 7, 1968; Public Law 90-390, 82 Stat. 296]

12. The Fire Safety and Research Act. It passed the Senate. [Fire Research and Safety Act of 1968, approved March 1, 1968; Public Law 90-259, 82 Stat. 34]

13. Electric Power Reliability to guard against massive power failures.
14. Mutual Fund Legislation.

15. Interstate Land Sales to protect the buyer against fraudulent land transactions.

16. Various Conservation Measures which passed the Senate (Redwoods National Park, Apostle Islands Park, North Cascades Park, National Water Commission, Scenic Rivers) or both Houses (San Rafael Wilderness). [San Rafael Wilderness, Calif, approved March 21, 1968; Public Law 90-271, 82 Stat. 51--San Gabriel Wilderness, Calif., approved May 24, 1968; Public Law 90-318, 82 Stat. 131]

17. Elected School Board for D.C. which passed both Houses. [District of Columbia Elected Board of Education Act, approved April 22, 1968; Public Law 90-292, 82 Stat. 101]

18. Highway Beautification which passed the Senate. [Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968, approved August 23, 1968; Public Law 90-495, 82 Stat. 815]


For the Consumer

1. The Wholesome Meat Bill
2. The Flammable Fabrics Bill
3. The Product Safety Commission
4. Clinical Laboratory Improvements

For the Cities

5. Rent Supplement Funds (but less than we sought)
6. Model Cities Funds (but less than we sought)
7. Urban Fellowships--to help train more City planners
8. Rat Extermination
9. Urban Research Funds (to help create an Institute of Urban Development)

For Education

10. Elementary and Secondary Education Act
11. Education Professions Act--to help train school administrators and other education workers
12. College Work-Study Program
13. Teacher Corps
4. Library Services
15. Public Television

For Health

16. Air Pollution Act
17. Partnership for Health
18. Mental Retardation
19. Mental Health
20. Vocational Rehabilitation, including Deaf-Blind Center For the Older American
21. Increased Social Security Benefits--Almost $4 billion, the largest increase in history
22. Older Americans Act
23. Age Discrimination

For the Needy

24. 1967 Summer Programs ($75 million supplemental)
25- Food Stamps
26. Appalachia Regional Development
27. The Poverty Bill (but with less funding than we sought)
28. Strengthening the Federal Credit Unions

For the Economy

29. Interest Equalization Tax (to help balance of payments)
30. Debt Ceiling Increase (a measures: FY 67-FY 68)
31. Restoration of Investment Tax Credits 32. Settlement of Nationwide Rail Dispute
33. Silver Certificate Redemptions (to help curb silver speculation)

34. Stockpile Bills--returning $32 million to Treasury
35. Strengthening Assistance to Small Business

For Conservation

36. Saline Water Program
37. West Coast Desalting Plant

For our International Commitments

38. Foreign Aid Bill (but with substantially less funds than we sought)
39. Food for India
40. Outer Space Treaty
41. Consular Treaty with USSR
42. Safety at Sea Treaty
43. Narcotics Treaty
44. Inter-American Development Bank Authorization
45. Peace Corps Authorization

For Better Government

46. Civilian and Postal Workers Pay Increase
47. Modern Government for the Nation's Capital 48. Postal Rate Increase
49. Postal Modernization and Improvement

For our National Security and Veterans

50. Vietnam Veterans Benefits Bill
51- Extension of the Selective Service Act (but Congress did not authorize the FAIR system)
52. Military Pay Increase


53. Extension of Civil Rights Commission 54. Federal Judicial Center
55. Supersonic Transport Funds
56. Highway Safety Funds
57. Obstruction of Justice to fight organized crime

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the District of Columbia Crime Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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