As 2023 gets underway, my top priority remains the same: addressing gun violence and improving public safety. Every day I hear from residents who are fearful for their own safety and the safety of their family. There is nothing I take more seriously. I am grateful to be serving as the Chairwoman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety where I will be able to take an even more active role in working with our public safety agencies and the community in addressing the epidemic of violence in our city.
As some of you may have heard, last week the Council overrode the Mayor’s veto of the Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA). There’s been a lot of misinformation and confusion about the revisions to the criminal code – including from congressional Republicans and Fox News, but here are the facts: the RCCA represents a long-needed and common-sense step towards making our code make sense for the 21st century and ensuring sentences are proportional and rational. For robberies, burglaries, and carjackings, over 97.5% of sentences judges are currently giving out are less than the maximum allowable penalty outlined in the revised criminal code. What will change is that the law will be easier to understand for everyone involved in the justice system – making our system run more efficiently and effectively.
If you want to learn more about what the RCCA does (and doesn’t do) and why it was so needed, check out this video I shared going into more depth or take a listen to me discussing the RCCA with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood on the Politics Hour last Friday.
I am confident that the RCCA will increase public safety by ensuring that the law and associated penalties for violating the law are clear for prosecutors, victims, defendants, and courts. But while the RCCA is a major step in the right direction, it’s not perfect. One of the major goals of the RCCA is to promote proportionality: that means that worse crimes should get longer sentences. While the RCCA does a lot to improve proportionality in our code, more work is still needed before the law goes into effect in 2025 to ensure gun possession penalties are proportionate to the harm they cause our community. We also need to provide additional training for police officers on the changes in the law, and increase the court’s capacity to handle a greater volume of jury trials.
Our work to promote public safety is already getting underway and last week I chaired my first meeting as the Chairwoman of the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety and held a hearing on nominees to the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. I expressed to my colleagues what I’ve told you: that there is nothing more important than making our city safe for all our residents. We will continue to work every day to make this a reality.
Yours in Service,
IN THE NEWS
Take a Listen:
WUSA9: DC council members introduce bill aimed at helping sexual harassment victims. “The “Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment (“FLASH”) Act of 2023”, which was introduced by Councilmember Brooke Pinto, establishes a private right of action against any adult who sends another adult an obscene image through electronic means without consent of the person receiving it, also known as cyberflashing. All of the women on the Council are co-introducers on this legislation.”
WTOP: Proposed DC bill would make E-bikes more affordable for residents. “’We really wanted to make sure that access to electronic bikes were more accessible, were more cost effective and that we are really targeting the highest rebates for our lowest income residents,’ Pinto told WTOP.”
DCist: Proposed Bill Would Give D.C. Residents $400 Or More In Rebates For Electric Bikes. “The legislation is crafted to provide more assistance to low-income residents. Half of the rebates are reserved for people that make less than 80% of the District’s median family income, $93,547. They would be eligible for a rebate of up to $1,200, or 75% of the price of the electric bicycle, whichever is lower. They’d also be eligible for an additional $500 for cargo electric bicycle models.”
NBC4: Proposed DC Bill Would Offer Residents $400+ for E-Bike Purchase. "A D.C. councilmember wants to make buying an electronic bike more affordable. Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto introduced a bill to create a rebate program that would partially reimburse residents who buy an e-bike from a retailer in the District.”
Axios: D.C. considers rebates for e-bikes. “Increasing cycling is a key goal for the city, aimed at reducing vehicle trips and carbon output. D.C. is budgeting to build 10 new miles of protected bike lanes annually.”
DC News Now: DC could get cameras to fine noisy cars. “If you live in the district, you’re used to hearing some traffic noise. Councilmember Brooke Pinto says this bill targets people illegally modifying their cars and disrupting people’s workdays and even sleep. The honking and the truck noises are all a part of living in a big city, but sometimes the loud noises are beyond a reasonable threshold.”
FOX5: DC could start using new cameras to fine drivers with noisy cars. “The new Vehicular Noise Reduction Act of 2023 would create a noise camera pilot program. Each ward would potentially have two locations selected where the technology would be set up to take pics of loud vehicles.”
The Washington Post: D.C. Council overrides mayor’s veto of controversial new criminal code. Supporters of the bill have countered that the reductions in maximum penalties are in line with what judges are actually imposing. “This isn’t some huge, mass decarceration measure,” said Patrice Sulton, founder and executive director of the DC Justice Lab. “It’s making the code clear, consistent, and constitutionally sound.”
Increasing Access to E-Bikes: Councilmember Pinto introduced legislation to incentivize the use of electric bicycles by establishing an instant rebate program for consumers and businesses. “The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstarting the Environment (E-BIKE) Act of 2023” will provide rebates to residents and Certified Business Enterprises that purchase electric bicycles. Designed with equity as a top priority, the instant rebate program will expand access to electric bicycles to residents who are currently priced out of making a purchase.
Taking on Vehicle Noise: After residents complained to Councilmember Pinto about excessive vehicle noise disrupting their sleep and hurting their productivity, the Councilmember introduced the “Vehicular Noise Reduction Act of 2023.” This legislation would create noise camera pilot program to identify and fine vehicles that are above a reasonable noise threshold. The legislation would also subsidize vehicle repairs to address the causes of noise and establish a study to determine a long-term plan for implementing infrastructure that reduces noise.
Treating Cyberflashing Seriously: Councilmember Pinto introduced legislation to provide victims of “cyberflashing” the opportunity to seek justice. The “Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment (“FLASH”) Act of 2023” establishes a private right of action against any adult who sends another adult an obscene image through electronic means without the recipient’s consent, also referred to as cyberflashing. All of the women on the Council are co-introducers on this legislation.
Leading the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety: Last week, Councilmember Pinto held her first organization meeting and hearing as the Chairwoman on the Judiciary and Public Safety. Councilmember Pinto discussed how the committee can work together to make DC safer and address the epidemic of gun violence. The committee also held hearings on nominations to the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.
Bringing our Criminal Code into the 21st Century: Councilmember Pinto and 11 of her colleagues voted to overturn the Mayor’s veto of the Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA). The RCCA makes common sense modernizations to our criminal code to promote rationality and proportionality within the law. These long-needed revisions bring our criminal code into the 21st century, advance equity and justice, and promote public safety by ensuring that the law is clear for prosecutors, victims, defendants, and courts. The legislation will go into effect in 2025 and Councilmember Pinto will introduce legislation to further strengthen the law before it goes into effect to address some outstanding community concerns. This legislation will include measures to expand penalties for gun possession offenses, provide additional training for police officers on the changes in the law, and increase the court’s capacity to handle a greater volume of jury trials.
IN THE COMMUNITY
In the last few weeks, CouncilmemberPinto and her team have been out and about in Ward 2 and across the city including to: