D.C. Deserves A Modern Criminal Code

D.C. Deserves A Modern Criminal Code

The District of Columbia recently passed The Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA) to modernize its outdated criminal code. Now, politicians in Congress are threatening to block D.C.'s years-long efforts and preserve century-old policies that hamper public safety, perpetuate racial disparities, and contribute to mass incarceration.


The RCCA modernizes D.C.’s criminal code which has not been comprehensively updated since it was enacted in 1901.

D.C.'s criminal code is outdated, disorganized, and inconsistent. The RCCA eliminates vague, archaic, and unconstitutional provisions; reduces unnecessary gaps and overlaps between statutes and brings consistency to penalties. The RCCA is a critical step towards a better functioning, transparent, and fairer criminal justice system in the District.

D.C. leaders and residents overwhelmingly support a revised code

The RCCA is the result of a robust and collaborative effort over 16 years involving many stakeholders including prosecutors, defense attorneys, and legal scholars. District voters overwhelmingly support the RCCA and the reforms it brings to the District. 83% support the revisions made by the RCCA. 93% support jury trial for offenses that carry any jail time and support eliminating mandatory minimum sentences by a 3 to 1 margin.

The RCCA is a common sense, evidence-based policy that promotes justice and public safety.

This comprehensive update to D.C.’s criminal code increases sentences for certain serious offenses while adjusting others to make them more proportionate. The RCCA authorizes lengthy sentences for serious offenses like carjacking, robbery, and burglary, that are higher than current sentences imposed by D.C. judges. The RCCA gives judges greater discretion on sentencing by eliminating mandatory minimums and restores the right to a jury trial for most misdemeanors, bringing D.C. in line with most other states in the country.

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D.C. Deserves a Modern Criminal Code