D.C. Jail (Courtesy of dc.gov)
D.C. Jail (Courtesy of dc.gov)

The Sentencing Project, a D.C.-based advocacy group calling for minimizing lengthy terms of incarceration, praised the city council for passage of the first reading of the Revised Criminal Code Act, which would update the District’s penalties for unlawful behavior.

The criminal code hasn’t substantially changed since 1901.

Amy Fettig, executive director of The Sentencing Project, called the legislation “the result of years of research, community feedback, stakeholder input, and negotiation.”

“We are pleased that the D.C. Council voted today to modernize its criminal justice system,” Fettig said Tuesday. “Although there is still more work to be done to scale back extreme sentencing in D.C., today’s action is a critical step towards equal justice and fairness.”

Fettig said research reveals that current policies that produce extreme sentences such as mandatory minimums and life without parole are cruel, costly and counterproductive to public safety.

“Thanks to the RCCA, most mandatory minimum sentences will be eliminated, maximum sentences will be capped at 45 years, sentences can be reconsidered after 20 years of imprisonment, and the scope and maximum penalty for felony murder will be reduced,” she said.

The legislation will face a second vote before it goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser for approval.

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