Washington Lawyers’ Committee Statement Regarding the Secure DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2024

On March 5, 2024, the DC Council is expected to cast the final vote on the Secure DC bill, the culmination of several crime bills known as the Safer-Stronger/Active Act Now Act under consideration by lawmakers. In anticipation of the passage of the omnibus crime bill, the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs issued the following statement:

“Over the past nine months, the Washington Lawyers Committee has advocated for proven data-driven policing to address violence. In testimony, we pushed back against transparency rollbacks and proceeding with warrantless searches. Despite these two areas of success, the omnibus crime bill gives us many reasons for concern.

“Secure DC turns the tide back to mass incarceration. Stacking criminal penalties on top of already illegal acts does not prevent or deter crime. Longer sentences only make rehabilitation harder.

“Pre-trial detention and modifying the body-worn camera rules are two more bad ideas in the legislation. Only a small percentage of violence is from people who are out of jail before trial. This form of over-incarceration puts more people in contact with the deadly medical care at the DC Jail. The rule changes to body-worn cameras raise concerns about additional and unnecessary stop and frisks, another failed method of crime deterrence.

“Like the rule changes to body-worn cameras, drug-free zones are an exercise in harassment. Police officers can already arrest open drug dealers. Drug-free zones should be considered pure security theater.

“Secure DC is not a crime-fighting bill. We need to address the root causes of violence, poverty, inequity, mental health, and a lack of access to essential services.”

Read a joint open letter regarding the crime bill to the DC Council here.

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