DC Mayor Vetoes Bill to Overhaul Criminal Code

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has vetoed the D.C. Council’s bill to overhaul the city’s criminal code, citing concerns that it would reduce penalties for some crimes and overwhelm the district’s court system. The legislation was unanimously passed by lawmakers two months ago, seeking to completely rewrite the city’s criminal code.

Bowser argued that enacting the legislation without listening to the criminal justice community and judicial branch fails to uphold the duty of elected officials. She noted that reducing penalties for certain crimes would create an imbalance in the criminal justice system, and that the court system would be overwhelmed if all misdemeanor cases had to be heard by a jury.

The rewritten legislation would eliminate most mandatory minimum sentences and establish jury trials for misdemeanor cases. Proponents of the bill have criticized Bowser for her promise to veto, with several lawmakers vowing to override her decision. They argued that mandatory minimum sentences are often too harsh for minor offenses and disproportionately affect minorities.

The D.C. Council now has the option to override Bowser’s veto with a two-thirds vote. If they do, the legislation will become law and the criminal code in Washington will be completely overhauled. It remains to be seen how the Council will respond, but it is clear that Mayor Bowser is taking a firm stance on the issue.

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