DC Council to vote on Second Look Amendment Act next week

The D.C. Council is on the verge of passing a bill that could put some violent offenders back on the streets.

It’s called the Second Look Amendment Act, and if passed, people who committed crimes before the age of 25 could ask a judge for early release once they’ve served 15 years of their sentence.

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For Jeff Magill, the legislation hits home – because it could potentially apply to the person who is accused of randomly murdering his daughter, Margery, when she was out walking a dog on Irving Street NW in August 2019. At the time, that suspect was 24 years old.

“I just can’t believe that they would after 15 years tell somebody, ‘Hey, you know what, you’re going to get a second look, a second chance.’ My daughter doesn’t get a second look or second chance,” Magill told FOX 5 Friday. “This takes the justice, the rule of law, those kinds of things out of it. And so if you have that, what do you have? You have nothing.”

Magill noted that he wouldn’t oppose this type of bill for people who’ve stolen cars or even robbed a bank, but he said letting violent criminals out early is going too far.

“I think that you’ve got to draw the line somewhere,” he added.

Patrice Sulton had a different take.

“It isn’t an automatic get out of jail free card at all,” the DC Justice Lab director explained.

Sulton advocated for the bill, and in an interview Friday evening, noted that it doesn’t force judges to let criminals out of prison, it gives judges the chance to reconsider sentences based on a variety of factors many years after those sentences have been handed down. She also noted that the Second Look Amendment Act expands on the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act, which is already in place in D.C. and applies to those convicted of crimes committed before they turned 18.

Sulton also expressed hope that the Second Look Amendment Act would incentivize criminals to own what they’ve done, admit it, potentially give grieving families some semblance of peace in the process.

“The idea that the current system is providing justice, I think is a flawed view,” Sulton said. “Our justice system is broken not just for the people who have perpetrated crimes, it’s broken for the victims too. It’s not serving anyone that way that it should be.”

A final vote on the Second Look Amendment Act is scheduled for Tuesday.