Press Release

The Sentencing Project Condemns Senate Vote Blocking DC’s Criminal Code Modernization

The Senate and White House blocked the modernization of D.C. criminal code from going into effect, which would have brought proportionality and greater fairness to the District's legal system.

Related to: Sentencing Reform, Incarceration

The Sentencing Project Executive Director Amy Fettig released the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of a disapproval resolution, which President Biden has promised to sign, blocking a comprehensive modernization of D.C. criminal code from going into effect:

“Today’s bipartisan Senate vote rejecting common sense criminal justice reform signals a widespread abandonment of racial justice and evidence-based policy in favor of political posturing.

The Revised Criminal Code Act is a sensible, balanced, long-overdue modernization of D.C. code. It would raise many penalties, lower others, and make sentences more proportionate – all in the interests of good governance and public safety.

But the facts didn’t matter to many in Congress, nor do they appear to matter to the White House. This vote and the President’s remarks are a deeply concerning return to the scare-tactic politics of the 1990s. President Biden has called the 1994 Crime Bill a mistake. He pledged to cut incarceration rates in half. He vowed to end mandatory minimums. But two years into his term, federal prison populations have risen and those promises appear to be empty rhetoric.

This year we’re marking 50 years of mass incarceration – 50 years of failing victims, communities, and families. I urge President Biden to veto this bill and work toward meaningful change, lest we have 50 more years of bloated prisons and broken communities with no benefits for public safety.”

The Sentencing Project testified in favor of the code changes in 2021, has supported the process of updating the code, and joined a broad coalition of civil rights and criminal justice reform organizations in urging Congress to oppose attacks on the revised criminal code bill.


About The Sentencing Project

The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice. You can find our media guidance on crime coverage here.

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