Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety to vote on bills decriminalizing fare evasion, modifying statute of limitations for sexual offenses

Tomorrow, October 4, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will vote on a bill that would decriminalize fare evasion on WMATA trains and buses in the District, making the offense a civil citation of $50, and a second bill that would modify the statute of limitations for most sexual offenses in both criminal and civil court.

When: Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 3 pm

Where: Room 120, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Fare Evasion Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2018

The Fare Evasion Decriminalization Act of 2017 would change the 1978 law that sets punishment for fare evasion at a fine up to $300, 10 days in jail, and potentially a lifelong criminal record for what is at-most non-payment of a $6 fare. The bill was introduced by Councilmember Trayon White (Ward 8) and co-introduced by Councilmembers Cheh, Silverman, Bonds, Robert White, Nadeau, Grosso, and McDuffie and co-sponsored by Councilmember Gray. The version to be voted on tomorrow sets the fine at up to $50 as a simple citation.

Examining data on enforcement from Metro Transit Police shows a disturbing racial disparity in who fare evasion is enforced against. In reviewing more than 20,000 stops, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee found 91 percent of those cited or arrested were black, with 46 percent of those enforcements against black men under the age of 25. Arrests have been increasing exponentially for this relatively minor infraction in the past five years.

“If we decriminalize fare evasion, you still have to pay your fare to ride the train or bus – that doesn’t change. Having this crime on the books since 1978 has not made our system safer and clearly is enforced based on what you look like and how you are dressed,” said Councilmember Allen. “When we’re seeing people receiving a lifelong criminal record for not paying a $2 dollar bus fare, we have to recognize this is unfair and make a change.”

Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018

The Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018 removes the statute of limitations for prosecution in criminal court for almost all sexual offenses and extends the statute in civil cases until the victim reaches age 40 or within a five-year window of the abuse.

“Sexual assault survivors are driving a national conversation and helping lift a veil of secrecy around how common and widespread sexual offenses are, and how it happens to people of all backgrounds,” said Councilmember Charles Allen. “Part of the changes I am proposing recognize that for many survivors, including children, it can take years to understand and recognize what happened. Right now, that means these offenses often go unprosecuted and survivors cannot seek justice. With this bill, we ensure sexual violence is brought into the sunlight and survivors have a chance to seek of closure.”

The bill combines and modifies bills introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) and Councilmember David Grosso (At-large).



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