Criminal law

Criminal law in the capital city faces an uncertain future as the city prepares for a new battle


Dozens of House Republicans also gathered in the Capitol’s Statuary Room on Friday to celebrate Congress blocked D.C.’s revised criminal code, and made one thing clear: D.C. must buckle up.

Representative Andrew S. Clyde (R-GA), who led the campaign in the House of Representatives: “This is a huge win for House Republicans, as it’s the first step in maintaining our commitment to making sure we have a safe nation.” House of Representatives to repeal the crime bill. “And we start with our capital.”

Framing efforts to block Washington, D.C.’s once-in-a-century reform of criminal sentencing laws as part of a national goal, Republicans have signaled that they will push harder on the gas to use D.C. to make broader political points — which they have already done. for years but was accomplished with unprecedented bipartisan success this week. Dozens of Democrats in the Senate Join the Republicans In voting to disapprove the city’s revised criminal code, a decision made by President Biden Signature is expected.

Biden says he will sign the GOP-led resolution banning the D.C. crime bill

On Friday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republicans view efforts to pursue crime legislation in D.C. as sending a message to the city — and the entire nation.

“We’re making history,” McCarthy said during the bill’s registration ceremony. “What today really means is we’re sending a message to every city, every county, every state that Washington will no longer be soft on crime. We no longer defund the police. We no longer reduce sentences.”

The bipartisan rebuke has left city leaders and criminal justice advocates wondering whether they should try to rewrite the criminal law bill to allay concerns raised by critics — or whether the political landscape Republicans have created renders any attempt futile.

And before city officials can go back to the drawing board, House Republicans on Thursday launched a new plan effort to Key legislation prevented police accountability in the city, It seems to force the city into a constant defense of its crime and police bills. Congress has the final say on city laws, thanks to a provision in the Constitution.

D.C. Council Speaker Phil Mendelson (D) said the new effort against the police bill made it clear that Republican targeting of D.C. will not abate, making it difficult to assess what the city should do with its criminal code.

House Republicans have launched a new effort to block the D.C. police bill

The Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2022 faced repeated attacks from Republicans for eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nearly all crimes and reducing statutory maximum penalties for some violent crimes, although the law also included new improvements to less-discussed penalties and allowed “stacking” of charges to increase sentences. The mayor was Muriel E. Bowser (D). He vetoed the legislation unsuccessfully over concerns about reducing some maximum penalties and overburdening a court system burdened with other changes such as restoring the right to misdemeanor trials.

A spokeswoman for Bowser said in a statement that the mayor believes “all three branches of government” and the community need to work together to “get this right.”

“Throughout this process, including the amendments I sent to the council last month, the mayor has made clear what changes should be made to the criminal law legislation,” the spokeswoman said, adding that Bowser also plans to send a package of “safer and stronger DC legislation to address public safety concerns.” She did not clarify the details of this proposal.

A violent night in the capital as the Senate votes on the crime bill

Jin Woo Park, executive director of the D.C. Criminal Law Reform Commission who helped write the legislation, remains optimistic that there is a way forward for at least some version of the updated law to make it through Congress. But he’s not sure what that would look like in light of bipartisan attacks that he saw as a mischaracterization of its essence.

“A lot of the criticism I’ve seen at the congressional level has been far from the truth of the bill,” he said. “Even if we are If they took up one line of criticism, who’s to say they wouldn’t go find something else?

The roughly 275-page criminal code bill that was before Congress was a years-long effort with input and support from both prosecutors and public defenders. It comprehensively updates most of D.C.’s criminal law for the first time in more than 120 years, much of it updating language and restructuring provisions to align with laws across the country.

5 outdated D.C. laws that are technically still on the books after the crime bill was repealed

Going back to the drawing board will require a lot of resources, Park said, noting that this is a “time-consuming project.” But he still hopes there is a way to put forward a version of the bill “with the same basic courage, the same basic infrastructure, and improved clarity.”

“It’s all things that everyone seems to agree are overdue,” he said. “I think it’s possible. Unfortunately, I don’t know when.”

Mendelsohn said he plans to sit down with Council Member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), who chairs the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, to weigh in on several key questions: “Do we think the odds of another bill being passed in the next two years will change? be better? how? What can we do differently to improve prospects?

In response to all these questions, he said, “I don’t know at the moment.”

“I hope there is some leadership in Congress that realizes that reforming a 120-year-old law is necessary,” Mendelsohn said. But he wondered whether Republican politicians would conduct a good-faith study of any changes the House could make to the bill, for fear they would continue to do so. Focus on the campaign’s tough anti-crime messages. “If we send another bill, how can we be sure that the leadership will protect the district from a demagogue campaign?” He said.

In an interview after the ceremony, Clyde said he wasn’t quite sure what kind of revisions House Republicans would accept if D.C. introduced a new criminal law.

“I don’t know that it needs to be fixed right now — you know, I don’t know if it needs to be fixed or not,” Clyde said of the current law. But she certainly doesn’t need it that – that,” referring to the amended version that was rejected by Congress.

What to know about D.C.’s (apparently doomed) criminal law.

A. said The change he would accept is if D.C. enacts a law allowing people to carry guns without a license, known as constitutional carry, arguing that more people could obtain guns for self-defense. And it is unlikely that this policy will be adopted by the deep city council.

Speaking at the ceremony, Clyde thanked a D.C. resident who had contacted him with concerns about the revised criminal code and prompted him to step in: Dennis Cribb, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner who lives in Hill East. Cribb, a Democrat, said in an interview that she had to write to Clyde about her concerns about how rape would be handled under the amended law. The maximum penalty for first-degree sexual assault has been reduced from life in prison without parole to 24 years, plus improvements. Cribb said she believes convicted rapists should be serving long sentences without a chance for early release.

Of her decision to involve Clyde in blocking the revised criminal code, she said, “It kills me because I’m in favor of statehood in D.C.” “But here’s the thing: Am I going to allow the D.C. Council to pass a law that harms a rape victim?”

Mendelsohn said he is open to assessing all objections to the crime bill.

Pinto, who was not available for an interview on Friday, said in a written statement that she remains determined to update the criminal code and will begin meeting with local leaders “to define a plan for moving forward that achieves our goals while recognizing the reality of the political situation we’re in.”

“I think it’s in our interest to pause to assess the situation and formulate a long-term strategy with allies,” she said. But she added that the Public Safety Committee is also busy with a number of other priorities, such as preventing domestic violence and hate crimes and helping residents returning from prison find a “productive path forward”.

“We cannot allow the machinations of Republicans with our criminal code to monopolize our time and prevent us from pursuing the rest of our vital public safety agenda,” she said.

D.C. now faces the Republicans, Mendelsohn said And in efforts to repeal police accountability legislation, city leaders need to think carefully about their messaging. He said City leaders “lost control” of the letters during debate over the criminal law bill, which was complicated by Bowser’s veto of the bill.

Simply urging Congress to keep its hands off D.C., he said, would not be enough now. He intends to focus on messages defending the merits of the legislation, which was drafted in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, and stressing that it is about police accountability.

The bill includes provisions such as banning neck restraints, requiring public release of body camera footage after an officer is shot, and creating a database of certain police misconduct that will be open to public inspection if allegations of misconduct against an officer are proven.

Mendelsohn noted that many of these provisions have already been enacted on a temporary or emergency basis since 2020, and Congress has not intervened to prevent them in the past. The bill recently passed by the House, without Bowser’s signature, makes many of the changes permanent and adds others.

However, even though congressional Democrats broadly support the federal George Floyd Police Justice Act — and the D.C. state — Mendelsohn said the city can’t assume Democrats will support home rule in D.C. based on what happened with the crime bill.

“I’m afraid we’ll see more of this during the remainder of this Congress. I’m working hard to prepare,” he said. “We’re running late, which I didn’t expect. So I don’t think our democratic friends will protect us in this case.

Emily Davies contributed to this report.


An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the provision in the city’s police accountability legislation. This provision creates a database of certain cases of police misconduct that will be open to public inspection if allegations of misconduct against an officer are substantiated, but it does not require the public to file an application. The article has been corrected.


Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button