On May 15, 2023, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser introduced the Safer Stronger Amendment Act of 2023. According to Bowser, this legislation is a response to “the gaps that exist in our public safety ecosystem.” The act will make it easier for courts to keep people accused of violent crimes in jail before their trials. It will also increase penalties for some violent crimes and illegal gun possession charges. The legislation immediately faced backlash from local and national organizations. These groups have rightfully argued that these regulations will target communities of color and contribute to mass incarceration.
The Mayor’s legislation also proposed additional barriers to the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA). IRAA gives incarcerated people the opportunity to ask for a reduced sentence if they were under 18 when the crime they were convicted of occurred and have served at least 15 years of their sentence. In 2021, the Second Look Amendment Act (SLAA) expanded eligibility for IRAA to include people who were under 25 at the time of the crime.
JPAP intern Nora Rosario (She/Her) worked on written testimony to submit to the DC Council to contest the proposed changes to IRAA. Nora did not need to submit her testimony because the DC Council, thankfully, dropped these IRAA provisions from the legislation. The work of local organizations and public outcry ensured the ongoing protection of IRAA.
Source: DCist/WAMU. Image description: Advocates and residents wait to testify against Mayor Bowser’s proposed legislation. They are sitting and wearing black shirts that say “Protect Second Look. Care Not Cages” in white text.
Published: August 30th, 2023