justice from the frontlines: Mar. 6, 2023

Biden blocks DC reforms

President Biden is willing to sign a Republican-sponsored resolution that would nullify the new DC criminal code laws. Biden’s willingness comes amid growing concern over rising crime in DC and across the US. The revisions passed by the DC Council aim to redefine crimes, change criminal justice policies, and rework how sentences are handed down. The Republican-controlled House believes that the city’s changes would contribute to rising crime and make it easier for some criminals to get out of prison. The bills backers says the reform will reduce the impact of the criminal justice system on minority groups. PBS NewsHour (Mar. 2, 2023) 

lawmakers push school policing

Four D.C. lawmakers have proposed legislation that would reverse a measure to remove police officers from schools by 2025. Council member Vincent C. Gray and others are backing the measure, citing concerns about safety. Critics of the bill claim that the presence of school resource officers leads to increased distrust of law enforcement and can cause student arrests. Although the proposed legislation may face obstacles, proponents of the bill argue that trained officers play a crucial role in school communities and public safety. The Washington Post (Mar. 2, 2023) 

Fairfax streamlines record expungement

Residents in Fairfax County no longer need to appear in court to expunge their criminal records. Petition for record expungement can be filed through paperwork, which will be reviewed weekly. Virginia has some of the most restrictive expungement criteria in the country, but the General Assembly passed a law in 2021 that would automatically seal non-convictions and some convictions in 2025. The new policy is the latest push to change the county’s criminal justice proceedings led by Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano. The DCist (Mar. 3, 2023)

VA parole board faces transparency

Virginia’s Parole Board will have to hold public hearings and provide more information to attorneys and inmates involved in cases as part of a new parole transparency measure that was approved by the Virginia General Assembly. The Parole Board would no longer have immunity from transparency rules that apply to most government bodies. The legislation, which the governor is reviewing, would require more frequent and detailed reports, making more of its investigative information available, and striking the Parole Board’s FOIA exemption from state law. The Virginia Mercury  (Mar. 1, 2023)

Baltimore intervention program succeeds

Roca, a nonviolence intervention program for 16- to 24-year-olds in Baltimore, is making a positive impact on its target population with a focus on teaching emotional control to those from violent and traumatic backgrounds. A new study released by Roca Baltimore indicates that participants in the program are seeing lower recidivism and arrest rates, more connections to employment, and improvements in mental health assessments. The group has purchased a building in Baltimore and plans to expand into Baltimore County while continuing to train juvenile services workers and Baltimore Police officers through its Roca Impact Institute. The Baltimore Sun (Mar. 2, 2023)

MD Republicans push crime measures

 MD state Republican caucus members are pushing crime-fighting measures in the General Assembly. They’re focusing on initiatives to make gun theft a felony, increase sentences for repeat gun offenders, and allow minors between the ages of 10 and 12 to be charged with gun crimes. Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates is also receiving bipartisan support for his proposal to lengthen jail time for illegal gun possession from three to five years for people between the ages of 18 and 20. WBAL TV (Mar. 2, 2023)

W. VA approves campus carry

W. VA Governor Jim Justice signed a bill allowing people with concealed carry permits to bring firearms onto public college and university campuses. The law takes effect in July 2024 and bans open carry on campus. Exceptions are allowed in certain areas and institutions can regulate firearms in residence halls. The presidents of the state’s largest institutions of higher learning opposed the bill, and a public hearing last month saw almost all speakers oppose it. PBS NewsHour  (Mar. 1, 2023)

in other news

New York City has agreed to pay $21,500 each to hundreds of protesters who were “kettled” by police during 2020 protests against the killing of George Floyd. The legal settlement could cost the city between $4 million and $6 million. The New York Times  (Mar. 1, 2023)

A report from the Council on Criminal Justice, finds that a disjointed and haphazard system of programs and a lack of awareness are partly to blame for a staggering number of veterans getting arrested or otherwise having to deal with the justice system. Military.com  (Mar. 2, 2023)

The U.S. Marshals Service suffered a security breach on February 17, compromising sensitive information including law enforcement sensitive information, administrative information, and personally identifiable information, according to senior US law enforcement officials. NBC News (Feb. 27, 2023)

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