Congress aims to exert control over D.C. crime with new bill

Congress aims to exert control over D.C. crime with new bill

A year after Congress blocked D.C.’s revised criminal code, complaining it was soft on crime, the House has gone a step further by passing its own D.C. crime bill.

The House passed the D.C. CRIMES Act on Wednesday with 225 votes, garnering support from Republicans as well as 18 Democrats. Proponents said the intention of the bill is to “immediately make everyone safer” in the District of Columbia. 181 no votes were also cast.

One of main components of the bill would adjust D.C.’s 1985 Youth Rehabilitation Act, which allows judges to grant those under the age of 25 lighter sentences and remove convictions from their records if their sentences are served.

“This bill requires that we treat adult criminals like adults, like the rest of the country does,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, (R-Fla.) chief sponsor of the bill during the Wednesday evening floor debate before passage.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting member of the legislative body, took issue with this assessment ahead of the vote.

”D.C. is not the only jurisdiction to have such a so-called young adult offender law. Alabama, Florida, Michigan, New York, South Carolina and Vermont have such laws,” Norton said. “The sponsor of this bill is from one of those six states.”

The bill would also require the D.C. attorney general to establish and maintain a website with data on juvenile crime.

“The progressive policies of the District of Columbia city council are simply not working,” Donalds said, adding that this bill would combat what he claims are the city council’s “soft on crime sentencing policies.”

“Citizens of D.C. and visitors of the nation’s capital deserve to feel safe,” Donalds concluded.

Opposing the bill, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) called it “a naked power grab against Washington,” and not helpful in the federal city where crime is already on the decline.

“It permanently strips D.C. of authority over any of its criminal laws. There’s been a 26% reduction in violent crime in 2024 and a 22% reduction in homicides. In other words, local democracy works,” Raskin said.

You can read the full article at WTOP News.