Comprehensive reform of the District’s current substantive criminal statutes—the laws that establish the scope of criminal conduct and authorize penalties—is long overdue. Amended and augmented by different legislative bodies over time, the District’s criminal statutes today vary widely in their clarity, completeness, consistency, and proportionality. Many existing statutes use outdated and unclear language, fail to state all the elements that establish liability, or use inconsistent definitions and terminology. The authorized penalties for many District crimes often do not reflect the seriousness of the underlying conduct because of overlap and gaps in how crimes are defined, failures to distinguish between variations in how an offense is committed or its resulting harm, and changing norms about the relative severity of offenses and the use of incarceration penalties.
Status: Rejected by Congress after being passed by the DC Council. Must be reintroduced.