D.C. Criminal Justice Advocates Push Legislative Agenda To Overhaul Policing, Public Safety

legislative agenda to transform public safety in the District of Columbia.
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Photos: Twitter\YouTube

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 25, 2022 - A collective of more than 20 community organizations, dozens of criminal justice reform advocates, and policy experts including former Police Reform Commissioners and members from the Task Force on Jails and Justice Friday released Solutions for a #SafeAndFreeDC, a Black-led, evidence-based, shared legislative agenda to transform public safety in the District of Columbia.

The legislative agenda, finalized at Friday morning’s Safety Summit 2022, prioritizes 9 existing bills and 9 proposals to improve public safety and quality of life for all District residents that await D.C. Council action or introduction. The event, attended by over 350 residents and individuals, was convened as an urgent response to the D.C. Council’s inaction to address outdated and ineffective policies that propagate one of the biggest, Blackest and most expensive criminal legal systems in the country.

“We organized this summit to make clear that the D.C. Council has a meaningful role to play in designing a District that is safer, freer, and more equal,” said Patrice Sulton, founder and Executive Director of DC Justice Lab. “Despite the loudest calls for transformative changes we’ve seen in a generation, the Council has not passed any consequential legislation for more than a year. The movement for a #SafeAndFreeDC aims to change that.”

“D.C. Councilmembers have made many promises and commitments to take steps towards real criminal justice reform, but we have not seen any meaningful action or developments,” said Courtney Stewart, founder and CEO of the National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens. “Our legislative agenda is simple: change these draconian laws, make Returning Citizens a protected class, and repair the damage done to the Black and brown community. We implore the Council to pass these measures that are urgently needed now.”

In 2021, the D.C. Council commissioned three comprehensive blueprints for transforming the criminal justice system through the Police Reform Commission, the Jails and Justice Task Force, and the Criminal Code Reform Commission. Of more than 50 proposals reviewed by the Council’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, many of which have overwhelming public support, the Council has enacted only a ban on flavored tobacco.

In addition to unveiling Solutions for a #SafeAndFreeDC, the Safety Summit educated community members about the current status of criminal justice-related legislation in the District and current Councilmembers’ activity on the community-supported bills. The Summit also announced a April 14 D.C. candidate forum and summer advocacy workshops to support residents in demanding that the D.C. Council advance stalled public safety legislation.

“We call on members of the D.C. Council to review its progress on policies related to criminal justice reform and community safety and take principled action to ensure that campaign promises are fulfilled,” said Makia Green, co-conductor of Harriet’s Wildest Dreams. “We look forward to continued dialogue with councilmembers to help transform our community-driven legislative agenda into policies that actually make a difference. ”

The Safety Summit 2022 was organized by DC Justice Lab, National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens, and Harriet’s Wildest Dreams. Access Solutions for a #SafeAndFreeDC legislative agenda along with a full list of supporters here: bit.ly/SafeAndFreeDC.

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