Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony A. Williams has proposed a wide-ranging criminal justice bill that includes more than a dozen new criminal offenses and would increase penalties for several old ones, including gun possession by a felon, car theft by juveniles, and violent crimes that victimize children and the elderly, the Washington Post reports. Williams’s proposal attempts to revive a controversial measure rejected last year by the D.C. Council that would create a separate offense when a juvenile charged with a crime fails to appear in court.
Several council members expressed skepticism, arguing that more criminal charges and longer sentences will do little to protect D.C. residents. Said council member Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “Some of these provisions merely enhance penalties. But to what extent do enhanced penalties deter crime?” On the juvenile court proposal, Council member Adrian Fenty said, “You could create a record for a juvenile even if they haven’t done anything wrong. That’s inconsistent with juvenile justice policy.”