Mayor Bowser proposes changes to DC's controversial criminal code

Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed amendments to D.C.'s controversial criminal code. Congressional Republicans recently took a vote disapproving the bill passed by the D.C. Council. 

Mayor Bowser is looking to address what she says are three significant problems with the code. First, she says, we need to return to higher maximum penalties for carjacking, armed robbery, and burglary.

"MPD is recovering more and more guns," Bowser said Monday.  "Part of our presentation to ANC commissioners a couple of weeks ago was how many more guns they are collecting and that the whole ecosystem of public safety has to be ready to work with those arrests. That includes our prosecutors, our judges." 

Police Chief Robert Contee III echoed Boswer's concerns Monday saying MPD recovered more than 3,000 firearms last year, which is more than 900 from the year before. Jinwoo Park, who heads up the revised code reform commission, says the new penalty maximums for those crimes are still higher than what the majority of judges are sentencing.

READ MORE: DC Council approves changes to controversial criminal code

Bowser also wants to kill two provisions in the code so that each can receive separate hearings: The expansion of the second look act that allows prisoners to ask for a reduction in their sentence after serving 15 or 20 years depending on their age when the crime was committed. The revised criminal code expands eligibility to ask for early release for those under 25 to people of all ages.

Bowser also has an issue with allowing nearly all individuals charged with a misdemeanor the right to a jury trial. She cited a letter from DC's chief judges to the council chairman last November raising concerns that increased jury trials could significantly threaten the courts' ability to manage its workload.

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A spokesperson for D.C. courts said the courts take no position on the revised code but have reminded and will continue to remind all stakeholders of the staff and resources the courts require so that we can continue to provide fair and timely justice to all.

Watch Mayor Bowser announce the revised Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2023 below: