“[I]t can be difficult to find agreement on anything in criminology, but opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing laws is one area that appears to enjoy unanimous agreement among experts.” —Kevin Ring, FAMM | Watch the video >>>
The RCCA does not include any mandatory minimum sentences.
As explained here, mandatory minimum statutes serve as ineffective deterrents, exacerbate existing racial disparities in the criminal justice system, contribute to mass incarceration, and precipitate wrongful convictions.
“[The right to a jury trial] can provide additional space for the community to have in the criminal legal system, knowing that their voices can be represented in the actual deliberation box as they’re hearing testimony and evidence presented by the government.” —Will Snowden, The Juror Project | Watch the video >>>
The RCCA would restore the right to a jury trial in many misdemeanor cases.
Most states (35) have a right to a jury trial in virtually all criminal prosecutions and the District used to do the same (between 1926 and 1993).
Some people have expressed concern that this change in law would overwhelm the District’s court system, however:
There is no reason to predict that significantly more than 5% of misdemeanor cases would convert to jury trials under the RCCA;
This change in law would not take effect until 3 years after the RCCA is enacted; and
“While the criminological research is clear that youth and emerging adults are especially prone to criminal activity and amenable to rehabilitative interventions, this doesn’t mean that we should foreclose the possibility of redemption for others.” —Nazgol Ghadnoosh, The Sentencing Project | Watch the video >>>
An opportunity for review is especially important in the District because federal law eliminated the District’s Parole Board, limits Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reductions in incarceration for good behavior, and deprives the Mayor of commutation and exoneration powers.
“[T]he District’s current felony murder doctrine treats people who have no intention of killing anyone like the most heinous, intentional murderers in our system, breaking the normal considerations of proportionality that should inform gradation in a criminal code.” —Donald Braman, The George Washington University Law School | Watch the video >>>
Today in D.C, an accidental death that happens during a felony is punished as severely as a planned, intentional killing.
The RCC classifies these accidental deaths as second degree murder.
Under the RCCA, a person can only be convicted of felony murder if they commit the lethal act. This means that they cannot be punished for someone else’s conduct.
Blameworthy conduct can still be punished under other parts of the RCCA. It still allows accomplices to be punished if they acted intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly to cause the death of another.
Some states have abolished felony murder altogether and many opponents of the felony murder rule argue that it gives prosecutors a shortcut to conviction in cases where they cannot meet their burden of proof.
BE The first comprehensive revision of the D.C. Code since THE YEAR 1901.