The Washington, D.C. city council on Tuesday approved a measure to allow certain violent felons to apply for early release, despite a crime wave in the nation’s capital.
The bill, which has been dubbed The Second Amendment Look Act, passed the local government body with a 12-1 veto-proof majority, and will now head to Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser’s desk for approval, according to the Washington Times. The ordinance allows inmates who committed a crime between the age of 18-25 and have spent over 15 years in prison to petition for early release, the Times reported.
Washington, D.C. has experienced 194 murders so far this year, compared to 160 in all of 2019, according to reported crime statistics. The uptick in homicides equates to a 20% rise from last year, the data showed.
Motor vehicle theft has also seen 48% rise and arson is up 63%, according to the statistics.
Approximately 300 felons would be eligible for the release program, and the applicants would need to demonstrate proof of rehabilitation, the Times reported.
If Bowser approves the bill, the law will still need a congressional go-ahead, as is customary for legislation in the nation’s capital, the Times wrote.
Criminal justice reform advocates like the FAMM Foundation, which stands for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, praised the city council’s passage.
“This new law will not let everyone out of prison, but it will stop us from throwing everyone away,” FAMM president Kevin Ring told the Times. “No one is safer when people who pose no risk to the public remain in prison. In order to reduce unnecessary incarceration, reunite families, and give people second chances, we have to revisit extreme sentences.”
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham disagreed with the local government’s decision.
“I can disagree, respectfully disagree, with the passage of this legislation, and I think I will continue to disagree with it,” D.C. Police Chief Newsham said during a meeting of the city council, according to the Times. “But at the end of the day, as a law enforcement officer in the District of Columbia, I’ll have to abide by it.”