Statement from Councilmember Charles Allen on Office of the US Attorney’s decision to shift prosecuting District residents for local offenses in federal court:
"I am very concerned about the Office of the US Attorney’s decision to shift prosecuting local crimes under federal law in the US District Court, rather than under District law in the DC Superior Court.
The Mayor, the USAO, the Council, the District’s Superior Court, and DC residents share the alarm over increased homicides and use of firearms in our community. Our public safety laws are the result of years of ongoing collaboration based on the will of the voters and many communities’ public input. As a result, the District has some of the strongest and smartest gun laws in the nation.
As in the DC Superior Court, District residents who are sentenced in federal court remain in the federal system. However, they may not be eligible for programs aimed at helping returning citizens and young adult offenders, including last year’s reform of the Youth Rehabilitation Act and record-sealing and expungement. These are not simply feel-good gestures, but important tools to reduce recidivism in violent crime and ultimately make the District a safer and more just place.
We have to be honest with ourselves: we cannot hope for improved public safety outcomes by locking people up for longer without providing rehabilitative services and a path forward for returning citizens. Twenty-two years ago, the District made a terrible bargain to cede all control of our justice system to the federal government, and it has had lasting and destructive consequences that we must undo.
I remain committed to working in partnership with the Mayor and my colleagues on the Council to reduce violent crime and gun crimes in the District, but I am very concerned the action by the USAO is the wrong approach."