(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser was joined by Acting Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah, and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert J. Contee, III to announce proposed amendments to the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022. At the press conference announcing the legislation, the Mayor made clear that while the community is united around the need to increase opportunity and address root causes of crime, residents are also seeking more accountability for those who commit crimes in DC.
In November 2022, the DC Council passed the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, a bill modernizing and overhauling the District’s criminal laws. In January 2023, Mayor Bowser vetoed the bill, resulting in a Council override of the Executive veto.
Over the past several months, residents and partners in the public safety and criminal justice community expressed concerns about some provisions in the updated code, including lower penalties for certain crimes. The updated code would expand eligibility for the Second Look Act from youthful, convicted violent offenders to people of all ages; it would also expand the right to a jury trial for those charged with misdemeanors but facing jail time, which is expected to exacerbate the already stretched capacity of the court system; and it would reduce maximum criminal penalties for violent crimes like carjacking and robberies.
The Mayor’s amended legislation would allow for stand-alone hearings for the expansion of jury trials and the expansion of the Second Look Act. The DC Second Look Amendment Act of 2019 currently allows people sentenced for a violation of DC criminal code that occurred when the individual was under the age of 25 to petition the court for resentencing after the individual has served 15 years of their sentence.
Mayor Bowser’s proposed amendments seek to remove the provisions for which there remain divisions and concern within the public safety and criminal justice community and District residents and address the timeline for which the bill is scheduled to be implemented. The Revised Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2023 will:
- Create opportunities for the public to provide input on policy changes around jury trials and expansion of the Second Look Act;
- Restore penalties on crimes that the public has expressed significant concerns about in recent months; and
- Allow sufficient time for training and data systems changes across the criminal justice system by updating the implementation date to January 1, 2027.
Following today’s announcement, the proposed legislation will be introduced to Council and proceed through the District’s legislative process.