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Bowser wants to tweak DC's revised criminal code

Mayor Muriel Bowser said a set of amendments to the revised criminal code will be sent to DC Council within 30 days.

WASHINGTON — D.C.'s mayor said community feedback is what is driving her to send a number of amendments to the DC Council for the Revised Criminal Code Act. Bowser had previously vetoed the revised criminal code over concerns it would not make D.C. safer. The Council overrode her veto to pass the first revision of D.C.'s criminal code in more than 100 years. Right now, it would take effect in 2025.

In a press conference Monday, Bowser said she will now send the Council a set of amendments to address concerns and focus on gun crime within 30 days.

"We have heard from a lot of residents and stakeholders about the code, and one thing that we can agree to is that people across all eight wards want us to do more to focus on guns and getting guns out of our communities," Bowser said. "They also want to make sure we are holding people accountable who hurt our city."

It is to that end that Bowser discussed some of the amendments in the new legislation. 

"We must do all the work to send a strong message that we do not tolerate the use of guns or violence to harm or intimidate people in D.C.," Bowser said.

Bowser said the amendments will provide opportunities for the public to give input on major policy changes around jury trials and the expansion of the Second Look Act. Amendments in the legislation would restore penalties for certain crimes of public concern, including carjacking. The legislation would also delay the implementation of the revised criminal code until 2027.

Bowser said that after receiving feedback from D.C. Courts, the Revised Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2023 would delete the expansion of the Second Look Act so that it can receive a stand-alone hearing.


"A lot of the feedback and concern that I've heard from D.C. residents are around changes to penalties in the updated code," Bowser said. "While no one believes that penalties alone will solve crime and violence, right now we must be very intentional about the messages that we are sending to our community."

Bowser shared some examples to the changes her amendment legislation would make when it comes to criminal penalties. One example Bowser shared Monday was someone who was caught carrying a gun after previously having committed a robbery.

Right now, they face a minimum sentence of three years. Under the RCCA of 2022, Bowser said they would not face the same accountability again. 

"The amended act would close this gap," Bowser said.

Bowser said the amended act would also restore the current penalty for a carjacking where the victim is not injured.


The legislation would also move the effective date of the revised criminal code until Jan. 1, 2027. Bowser said this is to allow enough time for training and system changes across the criminal justice system.

"This is not just about adding penalties... This is about sending a clear and unified message to anyone who is willing to use guns or commit acts of violence in our city, that our system will hold you accountable," Bowser said. 

Bowser said the amendments will be submitted to the council within 30 days, and will continue to work on any additional changes. 

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