Biden Bails on DC Penal Code Reforms

A District of Columbia penal code revision intended to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and reduce the consequences for crimes, such as robbery and burglary, has been withdrawn by the DC City Council Chairman after President Biden announced that he would sign a bill to block it.  Because the District of Columbia is not a state, Congress has the last word on its policies. After the district’s council passed the revision last year and voted to override democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto, it still had to be introduced as a bill and approved by Congress.

Joey Garrison of USA Today reports that a Republican-backed bill to reject the revision passed in the House last month with 31 Democrats voting in support.   Facing bipartisan support in the Senate, last week the President announced that, while he supports DC’s right to govern itself, if the bill blocking the revisions landed on his desk, he would sign it.  Responding to this,  progressive squad leader Alexandria Ocasio Cortez tweeted, “This ain’t it. DC has a right to govern itself, like any other state or municipality. If the president supports DC statehood, he should govern like it.”  Progressives always frame their sentencing reforms as necessary to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system.  2022 was the second year in a row that there were over 200 murders in DC.  Robberies and carjackings also increased last year.  The overwhelming majority of victims were African Americans as were the offenders.  How does reducing sentences advance racial justice?