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'We will hold you accountable' | Mayor Bowser offers changes to DC Criminal Code while Congress vows to strike it down

Mayor Bowser proposes increased penalties for robberies, car jackings, and burglaries.

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans are holding a committee hearing Monday evening, where they promise to dismantle D.C.'s Revised Criminal Code. This comes just hours after Mayor Muriel Bowser offered amendments to the current crime bill.   While Councilmembers and the Mayor disagree on some parts of the criminal code, they agree on one thing: that Congress should stay out of the District's Business.  

After another violent weekend in DC, there is increased focus on the RCC: The Revised Criminal Code. Our criminal code is considered one of the worst in the country," said Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.  

“What we passed was a well thought out deliberated debated legislation it doesn't mean people can't disagree with it but simply overturning it leaves us with nothing,” said Mendelson.

Councilmembers over-rode the Mayor's veto of the bill that rewrote D.C.'s crime laws that date back to 1901. But the Republican Congress now vows to strike down the revisions. 

"I’m reasonably certain that no member of the House of Representatives has read that bill, so they don't know what's in that bill,” countered Mendelson. “So all we're getting is political rhetoric ahead of the 2024 election.”

“We're going to step back and try to fix it and we'll fix it locally,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

Monday, Mayor Bowser offered her changes to the criminal code. The legislation will be introduced to the council this week.

"This is about sending a clear and unified message to anyone who uses guns or commits acts of violence in our city that we will hold you accountable," said Bowser.

Bowser's amendments delete the expansion of the second look act which serves as a parole board of sorts allowing judges to release criminal offenders. Mayor Bowser would like victims to weigh in before that hearing happens.

The mayor also removes the RCC provision allowing a jury trial for misdemeanors saying that would burden the court system. While authors of the RCC said they lowered jail time to reflect what sentences judges actually hand out, the Mayor’s amendment bumps up the penalties for armed robberies, armed carjackings, and burglaries.

MPD recovered 3,000 guns last year. That's 900 more than in 2021. Still, Chief Robert Contee admitted with a police force down 500 officers, their work to keep guns off the street and neighbors safe is becoming more challenging.

"When you talk about the fear of crime people want to see police officers in their communities and when you have that kind of deficit in terms of police officers that is impactful," said Chief Contee. 

The full DC Council sent a letter Sunday to the Speaker of the House and Minority leader urging them not to intervene in the RCC. The Mayor did not sign the letter but said she has had conversations. Mayor Bowser wants the Council to take up her amended legislation “with urgency.”

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