On Tuesday, the D.C. Council approved a controversial overhaul of District’s century-old criminal codes.
FOX 5 D.C. reports that the council unanimously voted for the 450-page Revised Criminal Code Act of 20201. This Act modernizes many District criminal offenses and represents the first comprehensive revision of D.C.’s Criminal Code since 1901.
Although officials came to a common agreement on most of the legislation’s provisions, some were concerned about the provision to reduce maximum sentences and eliminate almost all mandatory minimum sentences. Also, the expansion of jury trials for misdemeanor accuseds was a concern.
D.C. U.S. attorney Matthew Graves admitted that his office voted for Bill 24-416 in October despite “serious concerns” about a number recommendations.
“We remain concerned about multiple aspects of the bill and believe some provisions could undermine community safety or impede justice administration in our courts. He stated that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia supports the bill going to mark-up despite these concerns.
FOX 5 reported that an earlier bill had called for the elimination of all mandatory minimums. However, the council’s version made an exception for first degree murder charges and Graves’ office had proposed a harsher maximum penalty for the first-degree burglary.
Charles Allen, a Council member, thanked Graves and defended the provision.
DCist reports that Allen stated that the revised code contained changes to address gun crime and provide appropriate penalties.
The bill also provides for the right to a jury trial for any offense that carries a sentence of more than 60 consecutive days in jail.
According to The Washington Post, Allen stated that “We have to ensure we have a full complement, but it is also important that people have the right to a jury.” “D.C. is an extreme exception. We are the only state that doesn’t have the right to a jury.
Allen had previously stated to the outlet that the final product would fail to reflect all concerns. A Brooke Pinto amendment that would have increased sentences drew objection from Allen and other colleagues.
“Survivors/victims do not exist in a single group. Some survivors do not support mandatory sentences. The RCCA gives survivors more freedom in sentencing. This allows for survivors to have a greater voice,” tweeted The Network for Victim Recovery of D.C.
The bill will now be sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser — and then to Congress — but she and Chief Robert J. Contee III of the Metropolitan Police Department opposed its reduction in sentence count.
Bowser stated previously that she opposed putting a burden on Washington courts – something that resonated well with lawmakers and chief judges of D.C. Court of Appeals and Superior Court – and that reducing sentences sends “the wrong message to… residents” when we are using every resource within our government to reduce crime.
DCist reported Bowser said that she would consider vetoing if certain changes were not made.
If she does, however, the council could override it.
Fox News Digital did not receive immediate responses to Bowser’s and the Metropolitan Police Department’s requests for comments.
Fox News Digital’s Ronn Blitzer contributed this report.