A community divided: DC residents split on drug kingpin Rayful Edmond’s release

It was the first of its kind poll, asking D.C. residents to give input on whether a notorious, convicted drug trafficker should be considered for early release.

Hundreds of people weighed in on Rayful Edmond’s resentencing, and the consensus is split.

Of the 510 people interviewed — their names redacted from the report — half favor leniency for the man serving a life sentence without parole, while the other half contend that the streets are safer with Rayful Edmond behind bars.

Edmond infamously ran one of D.C.’s largest drug rings at the height of the city’s crack epidemic in the 1980s. He was convicted of related crimes in 1990. Since then, the Office of the Attorney General said that he has cooperated with prosecutors and provided information that closed several cases.

One person surveyed said, “good deeds can never undo the damage he did.” Another said, “30 years in jail … and help solving multiple murders … He’s paid his price to society and then some.”

The report doesn’t take a stance on whether Edmond should be considered for early release, but it notes this is the first time it has been asked to represent the community’s views in an adult criminal matter that does not have prosecutorial authority.

“Too often, the District’s lack of control over our adult criminal justice system means that residents lack a voice in decisions that profoundly impact our community, but in this case, they are being heard,” Attorney General Karl Racine’s office said in a statement.

“Thank you to all the community members who participated in this process, attended forums, sent comments, or called my office and provided their thoughtful and passionate opinions about this case.”

The brief was submitted to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan after eight months of interviews.

In summary, it found, “certain commenters believed that Edmond was uniquely responsible for the crack epidemic in the District, while others viewed him as a victim of the racial disparities that plague the criminal justice system. ”

The brief went on to safe that, “some [commenters] believed that he had served enough time, and others disagreed. Whether citing the potential impact on District youth, religious beliefs, or other factors, community members weighed each criterion differently — some as advocating for a reduced sentence, and others as counseling caution.”

The court will consider a number of factors in determining whether Edmond will be resentenced, including the facts of his convictions, information about his cooperation with federal authorities, his conduct in prison as well as the views of District residents.

There is no specific time frame outlined for when Judge Sullivan will reach a decision.

Read the full report of comments here.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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