Last week, Congress decided–and Biden refused to stop them by using the veto (that’s worth a read)–that D.C.’s revisions to its criminal code weren’t punitive enough. Monday, the lazy ass writers for the Washington Post editorial page decided to blame the D.C. Council (and not their own reading comprehension. But I’m getting ahead of myself).
The cause célèbre was the lowering of the maximum penalty for armed carjacking: from forty years to ‘only’ twenty-four years–which is still one third of a life. It’s all the more ridiculous since the stated reason by the commission for doing so is that federally-appointed judges and prosecutors* don’t assign sentences for more than fifteen years, so they decided to lower the maximum to nine years more than is sentenced. And if you want crime and punishment, boy howdy, do the revisions have them (boldface mine):
Or take robbery, which Fox News seized upon as an example of the revision’s putative flaws, claiming the penalty for this crime would become “a slap on the wrist.” D.C.’s current code has just one robbery statute with a maximum penalty of 15 years. It covers everything from nonviolent pickpocketing to beating a victim to the point of near-death. The new code, by contrast, would divide the crime into armed and unarmed robbery, then split each category into first, second, and third-degree offenses. A minor crime, like unarmed pickpocketing, would incur a two-year max, while a major crime, like violent, armed robbery, would incur a 20-year max—higher than the current max. Moreover, the bill would let judges “stack” offenses by running them consecutively. By stacking both robbery and weapons offenses, a judge could send an offender to prison for several decades. Add homicide or kidnapping charges and the offender would effectively face a life sentence.
As these examples illustrate, a key goal of the bill is to make prosecution easier by clearly defining crimes that are currently ambiguous. It also facilitates prosecution by increasing various penalties. The bill would jack up max sentences for various sex crimes and gun offenses while boosting the max for attempting murder from five years to 22.5 years. It even introduces a new crime, endangerment with a firearm, to cover any individual who fires a gun in public, helping prosecutors charge shootings when they cannot prove intent to injure or kill (a problem that currently bedevils D.C. law enforcement).
But the Washington Post, from the day the revisions were headed to a vote, never seemed to have actually read the revisions–which also explain why the commission made the decisions it did. Instead, they latched onto the carjacking–having not done their homework–and ignored everything else in the revisions. It’s just utter incompetency by the Washington Post and an unwillingness to do their homework. I expect Republicans and too many national Democrats to be lazy and not understand–or be intentionally ignorant–but the city’s major newspaper should know better. For shame.
*As a colonial territory, D.C. has no say over its presidentially appointed and Senate approved prosecutors and judges who oversee felonies, so if you don’t like the sentences, blame the presidents and Senates who approved these bozos. We had nothing to do with it, sadly.
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