WASHINGTON – On February 6, 2019, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu announced that cases involving individuals with prior felony convictions who are caught in possession of an illegal firearm will now brought in U.S. District Court instead of D.C. Superior Court.

The following can be attributed to Monica Hopkins, Executive Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia:

“Over the past few years, the D.C. Council has worked hard to pass criminal legal reform such as the NEAR Act and amendments to the Youth Rehabilitation Act that address crime with proven, data-driven solutions that reduce violence and enhance public safety. Mayor Bowser is delivering a slap in the face to D.C. residents, who have no representation in Congress, by ignoring their representatives’ criminal-justice policy choices in favor of a federal system that D.C. residents had no voice in crafting. In inviting the federalization of criminal prosecutions in the District, Mayor Bowser undercuts her credibility as an advocate for statehood and full voting rights in Congress.

“Mayor Bowser and USA Liu insist the change is not to increase sentences, but rather to focus federal investigative and prosecutorial resources. This is both misleading and disingenuous. The U.S. Attorney’s Office can bring all those resources to bear and still try these cases in Superior Court, under D.C. law — the very laws passed by the D.C. Council.

“Mayor Bowser’s choice to support shifting prosecutions to federal court also undercuts her own initiative on record-sealing, which is an important part of helping individuals with criminal backgrounds successfully re-enter society, because this measure is unavailable under federal law. The Mayor is effectively contributing to the further disenfranchisement of D.C. residents by undermining the criminal-justice reforms they have chosen through their elected officials at the Council.