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FOIA News: Bake sale to fund FOIA request

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Capitol Hill Residents to Hold Bake Sale to Raise Money for FOIA Request

By Jackie Bensen, NBC Washington, Nov. 30, 2015

Some Capitol Hill residents want to know whether a "revolving door" of justice is playing a part in their neighborhood's crime problem -- but actually getting the answer will come with a daunting price tag.

So they've come up with an unusual way to get that information: a bake sale. 

For months, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Krepp, who serves the Hill East area, has been trying to find out how many of the thousands of arrests made by police have actually resulted in prosecution.

"I want to know why we have criminals on the street when they should be locked up," she said, wondering if her neighborhood's rising crime rate is because too many criminals are being let back out on the streets.

Last month, hundreds of residents gathered for an anti-crime meeting, after the Hill area was rocked by a series of street robberies, a home invasion rape, and a fatal shooting, all in a two-week period. After officials were unable to answer questions about the prosecution rate, Krepp filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice.

The department responded to say that providing the information would be costly: $40 an hour, for what could be hundreds of hours of research.

"You know what happened when I told my residents that I was going to pay $1,000 [of my own money]?" Krepp asked. "They said, 'No, you're not. We're going to help you.' So we started thinking of ways to raise the money. We're going to do bake sales."

The date of the bake sale has not yet been determined, but will take place at Eastern Market.

Krepp said the fact that authorities didn't have the information in the first place is deeply concerning.

"But if you have no idea how many cases you've prosecuted, then you have no idea what the crime level is in Washington, D.C.," she said. "And if you don't, who does?"