D.C. Council Overrides Bowser’s Veto Of Crime Reform Bill

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Devan Bugbee Contributor
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The Washington, D.C., Council passed the Revised Criminal Code Act on Tuesday, a criminal reform bill that Democratic Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser previously vetoed.

The bill softens penalties for several offenses, including violent crimes involving a gun. It passed in the D.C. council 12-1, reversing Bower’s Jan. 4 decision to veto the reform, ABC7 reported. The council had previously voted to pass the bill unanimously in November, with Councilmember Trayon White switching his vote. The council only needed a two-thirds majority to override Bowser’s veto, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Teen Mom And Her Baby Among Six Fatally Shot In Home ‘Massacre’: Police)

Critics are concerned about the impact of the bill’s reduction of maximum sentences, elimination of nearly all mandatory minimum sentences, and expansion of the right to jury trials to those accused of misdemeanors, according to Fox5. The bill also softens the penalties for carjackings and burglaries, Fox News noted in an earlier report. It is the first comprehensive revision of D.C.’s legal codes since Congress created them in 1901.

“The Mayor is the only elected official listening to District residents on crime and violence. This law, once enacted, will lead to violent crime rates exploding even more than they already have,” the D.C. Police Union stated, Fox5 reported.

The council’s decision comes as crime in D.C. has seen a 23% uptick, according to data from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police. In 2023, D.C. has already seen a 100% increase in murders and a 200% increase in sex abuse, though violent crimes are overall down by 9%.

“The Revised Criminal Code Act represents years of work by the Council, the Executive, the Attorney General, public safety and criminal justice experts and advocates, and other District stakeholders to modernize our criminal code … I am moving to override the Mayor’s veto of this legislation. Sustaining the veto would unravel years of careful and thoughtful work over disagreements with a small percentage of the bill,” D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto said in a Jan. 10 letter.

In her statement defending the veto, Mayor Bowser referred to the reform as a “complete overhaul of our criminal code.”

“I believe it’s more important to get this opportunity right than to add policies & weaken penalties,” she added.