Breaking: D.C. Council Overrides Mayor Bowser’s Veto of Bill That Reduces Max Penalties for Violent Crimes

The Washington, D.C. city council on Tuesday voted to override Democratic mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto of a progressive public-safety bill that would reduce maximum penalties for certain violent crimes.

The council voted twelve to one to override the veto and impose the measure, which Bowser and her fellow critics argue will exacerbate crime in the district. In November, the council unanimously approved the new criminal code.

The mayor rejected the measure in early January in a letter to chairman Phil Mendelson, voicing her opposition to certain provisions, most of which dealt with the lenient punishments for serious offenses. For example, the code reduces sentences for robberies, carjackings, home invasion burglaries, and illegally gun possession, Bowser noted.

“The Council has gone far beyond the modernization of our criminal laws to include controversial policy proposals best addressed in stand-alone bills where the public can review them and offer their thoughts,” the mayor wrote.

At a minimum, she said, the council should increase the maximum penalties for first and second degree burglary, third degree armed and unarmed robbery, and crimes of violence committed with a firearm.

Before the veto letter, Bowser sent an initial letter the council urging the members to scrap the provisions she deemed problematic and counterproductive — an opinion shared by the United States Attorney's office.

“I hear from DC residents daily who are most concerned about being attacked in their home, car, or on our streets. Reducing the current legal penalties for these violent offenses sends the wrong message to our residents when we are using every resource in our government to drive down crime,” Bowser wrote.

Council members were defiant about passing the legislation when they convened for session Tuesday. They said it was a product of compromise and consensus over many years. Last week, council member Charles Allen, who led the effort to update the District’s criminal code, said the council intended to override Bowser’s veto.

“It is irresponsible for the mayor to have characterized this bill as ‘it does not make us safer,” one congressman said Tuesday. “It is well researched that the length of sentences has zero deterrent effect.”

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D.C. Council Overrides Mayor Bowser’s Veto of Bill That Reduces Max Penalties for Violent Crimes

The mayor objected to the measure’s reduced penalties for carjackings, burglaries, and ... READ MORE

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