WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The D.C. Council could vote on Tuesday to reduce the punishment for carjackings — just as the city is averaging one carjacking a day in the new year.
Mayor Muriel Bowser already vetoed a revised criminal code earlier this month, but D.C. Council is expected to override that veto on Tuesday.
In the new year, crime is continuing to spike across the board in D.C., particularly with carjackings.
“In 2022, we ended up with 485 carjackings, so we were averaging more than a carjacking a day. We are now at a carjacking a day in 2023,” said Denise Krepp, former ANC 6B10 commissioner.
On the 16th of January, Metropolitan Police data showed 16 carjackings this year.
“It’s happening in front of churches. It’s happening in front of stores, it’s happening everywhere,” Krepp said.
Krepp was an ANC commissioner for eight years in her Southeast neighborhood. She says getting rid of mandatory minimums and reducing maximum sentences, prosecutors will be put at a disadvantage.
“When you have to negotiate with somebody when you’re pressing charges, you want the highest maximum, to say, look, you’re going to get up to 40 (years). But if you drop it down to 24, you’re not going to 24, you’re probably not even going to go to 10.”
In April, there was a carjacking in front of her house.
“I walk out the door every day looking left and right going ‘will I be armed carjacked? Will somebody take my car?'” Krepp said. “But while I’m doing that, looking left and right, I’ve got the council going, ‘everything’s fine. Everything’s great.'”
D.C. Council unanimously passed a revised criminal code last year that would reduce penalties for carjackings, burglaries and homicides.
Before Mayor Bowser vetoed it in November, Chairman Phil Mendelson said, “While I appreciate that she had concerns I think the concerns are misplaced. There will be a layering of charges in there for a layering of possible sentences and I think that’s been misunderstood by a lot of folks.”
Both Bowser and Police Chief Robert Contee III have expressed concerns about reducing accountability.
Last month, Krepp wrote to Congress asking them to disapprove the bill.
“It’s going to be very ugly because Congress is going to come and ask the questions that many of us have been asking all along,” Krepp said. “Why is it a good idea to decrease the carjacking maximum? Why is it a good idea to release murderers early?”
The D.C. Council meets Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. Only nine of 13 members are needed to override the veto.