Press Release

The Sentencing Project Condemns First Vote of Secure DC Bill By DC Council

The Secure DC Bill will increase criminalization in the District of Columbia through the expansion of mandatory sentencing minimums, further contributing to mass incarceration, and politicize the sentencing commission.

Related to: Incarceration, Sentencing Reform

Washington, D.C.  – Today, the DC Council held the first of two votes needed to pass the Secure DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2024 (Bill 25-345) into law. Introduced by DC Councilmember Brooke Pinto last year, the sprawling bill includes more than 100 criminal laws. If passed by the Council again it can be signed into law by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Liz Komar, Sentencing Reform Counsel for The Sentencing Project, issued the following statement:

“All Washingtonians deserve safety and justice. That’s why The Sentencing Project and many other organizations in the District urged the DC Council to improve the ‘Secure DC’ bill before it was brought to a vote this afternoon.

Just last year, DC was poised to eliminate almost all mandatory minimums with the Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA). The Secure DC plan expands what crimes will require mandatory sentencing minimums and is a significant step backward.

The evidence on mandatory minimums is clear. Mandatory sentencing has been a key driver of mass incarceration by dramatically increasing the lengths of imposed sentences and has contributed to DC recently ranking eighth among states in its incarceration rate.

Research has also shown that prosecutorial charging decisions disproportionately impose mandatory sentences on Black Americans. That’s why a wide array of organizations – including the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund – have proposed eliminating mandatory minimums.

The Secure DC bill would also change the composition of the DC Sentencing Commission in two troubling ways: by giving the mayor more appointees and by giving even more weight to law enforcement perspectives. The Sentencing Commission should remain balanced so it can continue to make decisions rooted in research and best practices.

Ahead of the final vote, we encourage DC residents to let their Councilmembers know they want a stronger community, not more mass incarceration.”

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