WASHINGTON — Virginia's attorney general is praising D.C.'s mayor for a revised plan to combat crime in the city, after recently criticizing city officials when a Virginia woman was attacked and killed in a Northeast, D.C. hotel room.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and members of her administration announced new legislation and a mayor's order on May 15, in an effort to reduce crime in the District. The new "Safer, Stronger DC" legislation includes proposals to increase penalties for illegal gun possession, violent crimes against people with mental or physical disabilities, and crimes targeting public transportation workers. It would also make strangulation a felony assault.
Now, Bowser is receiving praise for her proposal from an unlikely supporter.
“Policies like stiffening penalties for illegal gun possession, rebuttable presumption against bond for those who commit a violent felony, and giving judges more discretion to keep violent criminals behind bars are policies that will significantly improve public safety," Attorney General Jason Miyares wrote in a letter to Bowser this week. "In fact, these policies mirror Virginia’s criminal justice and public safety laws prior to 2020. These policies target violent, repeat offenders who have high recidivism rates, which ultimately make our communities more safe. I hope the D.C. City Council quickly passes these reforms.”
Miyares' new letter comes about two months after he accused her and the D.C. council of failing to enforce public safety laws and address crime rates.
“D.C.’s crime problem has become Virginia’s crime problem," he wrote in a separate letter.
Miyares sent the original letter in response to the death of 31-year-old Christy Bautista, a Virginia resident who was in D.C. for a concert when an unhoused man allegedly stabbed her dozens of times in her Northeast hotel room.
“The reason why I sent that letter was to have both a constructive engagement and tell them about our concern,” Miyares told WUSA9. “That initial proposal takes some steps in the right direction that I think will help lower gun violence in D.C.”
Eric Lachica of US Filipinos For Good Governance said while he appreciates Miyares putting his focus on Bautista, he is critical of how the mayor’s office has responded. Lachica has become a conduit for the Bautista family and recently attended her funeral. He claims city officials including the Office of Human Rights have lacked responsiveness.
“The mayor's staff should be more proactive,” said Lachica.
He recently sent a letter to OHR and asked for more participation in neighborhood meetings in Virginia and Maryland and require more outreach to grieving families.
“We haven't received any responses from them,” added Lachica. “She has to be on top of this issue. She has to be more sympathetic. More empathetic to the family of victims in the District, not just Christy’s.”
WUSA9 also reached out to OHR for comment but by the time of publication had not heard back.
When asked Friday if she willing to sit down with Miyares, Bowser responded, "What does he have to do with Washington, D.C.?"
Councilwoman Brooke Pinto, Chairwoman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, said, "I am willing to work with anyone, including regional and federal partners, who is open to a good faith discussion of how we can work together to promote public safety in the District."
Other features of Bowser's proposed legislation include:
- Strengthening provisions that allow individuals to petition for early release to ensure the voices of victims and community receive proper consideration.
- Providing greater discretion for the Courts to determine who should be held pre-trial, including defendants previously convicted of a violent crime while they await trial for a new violent crime.
- Increasing the reimbursement for the District's popular Private Security Camera System Incentive Program which strengthens public safety by increasing the network of cameras available to assist MPD in solving crimes and closing cases.
- Requiring the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to report more data on process and outcomes.
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