Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is hesitating on whether to sign a bill into law that updates and overhauls the city's criminal code, reports The Legal Forum. It passed unanimously in the heavily Democratic D.C. Council last week. but Bowser expressed concerns that it advances soft-on-crime policies that could contribute to a rising crime rate. She agrees with 95 percent of it but was “disappointed with several provisions." Her greatest criticism focused on reducing prison time for carrying a pistol without a license and being a felon in possession of a gun.
The revised code eliminates nearly all mandatory minimum prison sentences, including some for the gun crimes blamed for the worst of the capital's violence. Many concerns mentioned by Bowser are being repeated in other cities. Other provisions of the D.C. criminal code revision would require jury trials in nearly all misdemeanor cases and reduce maximum penalties for offenses such as burglaries, carjackings and robberies. Chief Superior Court Judge Anita Josey-Herring told Bowser that the guarantee of jury trials in more cases would overburden the courts. Her court has 14 vacancies.