|A BILL IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF
Chairperson Linda W. Cropp and Councilmember Jack Evans introduced the
following legislation, which was referred to the Committee on ______.
To establish the District of Columbia Advisory Commission on Sentencing to make
recommendations to the Council regarding criminal sentencing reforms required by the
National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, P.L. 105-33.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as
the "Advisory Commission on Sentencing Establishment Act of 1998"
Sec. 2. Establishment of the District of Columbia Advisory Commission on Sentencing.
(a) There is established as an independent agency of the government of the District of
Columbia the Advisory Commission on Sentencing.
(b) The Advisory Commission on Sentencing shall:
(1) Ensure, through regulations or proposed legislation, that the criminal sentencing
provisions of the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of
1997, P.L. 105-33, Title XI, Subtitle C, Chapter 2, are implemented without creating
unintended increases in the average lengths of prison terms served, or unwarranted
sentencing disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of
similar criminal conduct:
(2) Propose regulations or legislation designed to ensure that criminal sentencing laws
and practices reflect the needs, interests and experience of the District of Columbia and
(3) Develop sentencing policies and practices for the District of Columbia criminal
justice system, by regulation or proposed legislation, to ensure that, for all felonies,
the sentence imposed on an offender shall:
(A) reflect the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history of the offender;
(B) provide for just punishment;
(C) afford adequate deterrence to potential future criminal conduct of the offender and
(D) provide the offender with needed educational or vocational training, medical care,
and other correctional treatment; and
(E) provide for use of intermediate sanctions in appropriate cases.
(3) Gather, review and analyze data related to criminal sentencing practices in the
District of Columbia, and to make such data available to the public;
(4) Predict changes in the size of the District's prison population as a result of
current or proposed sentencing policies and practices, and to prevent unintended or
unwarranted increases in the District's prison population without due consideration of the
cost in criminal justice resources, the effect on the community, and the available
(5) Enhance the effectiveness of the Drug Court, and to consider recommendations for
adapting the methods and approaches used in Drug Court to other appropriate areas of
(6) Ensure that criminal sentencing policies and practices in the District of Columbia
are neutral as to the race, sex, gender, marital status, ethnic origin, religious
affiliation, national origin, creed, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation of
(7) Make such other recommendations, rules or reports as may be appropriate to enhance
the fairness and effectiveness of criminal sentencing policies and practices in the
District of Columbia.
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Sec. 3. Membership of the Advisory Commission on Sentencing.
(a) The District of Columbia Advisory Commission on Sentencing shall consist of eleven
voting members and three nonvoting members.
(1) The voting members of the Commission shall consist of the following:
(A) Two Superior Court judges, to be appointed by the Chief Judge of the D.C. Superior
(B) The United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, or her designee;
(C) The Director of the D.C. Public Defender Service or her designee;
(D) A member of the District of Columbia Bar whose practice includes criminal law, to
be appointed by the Mayor upon the recommendation of the President of the District of
Columbia Bar subject to confirmation by the Council of the District of Columbia;
(E) The Director of the District of Columbia Offender Supervision, Defender and Court
Services Agency or his designee, or, until that agency is established, the Pretrial
Services, Defense Services, Parole, Adult Probation and Offender Supervision Trustee or
(F) The Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia or his designee;
(G) A professional from an established organization devoted to research and analysis of
sentencing issues and policies, to be appointed by the Mayor subject to confirmation by
the Council of the District of Columbia;
(H) A legal academic knowledgeable about criminal sentencing issues and policies, to be
appointed by the Mayor subject to confirmation by the Council of the District of Columbia;
(I) Two citizens of the District of Columbia who are not attorneys, to be appointed by
the Mayor subject to confirmation by the Council of the District of Columbia.
(2) The non-voting members of the Commission shall consist of the following:
(A) The Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections or her designee;
(B) The Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department or her designee;
(C) The Director of the United States Bureau of Prisons or his designee.
(b) Each member shall be appointed for a term of three years, and shall continue to
serve during that time as long as he occupies the position which made him eligible for the
appointment. Of the voting members first appointed after the effective date of this act, 4
shall serve for a three-year term, 4 shall serve for a two year term, and 3 members shall
serve for a one year term. A member may be reappointed. A person appointed to fill a
vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of a term shall serve for the remainder of the
term or until a successor has been appointed. A member may be removed by the Mayor only
for incompetence, neglect of duty, or misconduct.
(c) The voting members of the Commission shall elect a Chairperson.
(d) Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation, except that the citizen
members of the Commission shall be compensated at an amount not to exceed $15.00 each day
or part thereof for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their official
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Sec. 4. Meetings and hearings.
(a) The Advisory Commission on Sentencing shall meet in public as necessary to conduct
the Commission's official business. The Commission shall publish notice of each meeting,
indicating the date, time, place, and subject matter of each meeting, in the D.C.
(b) A majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum.
(c) The Commission may act by an affirmative vote of at least 6 of its voting members.
(d) The Commission may conduct public hearings, receive testimony, and call witnesses
to assist the Commission in the exercise of its powers.
Sec. 5. Comprehensive study and reports.
(a) No later than December 31, 1998, the Advisory Commission on Sentencing shall submit
to the Council a comprehensive study of current criminal sentencing practices in the
District of Columbia, including but not limited to an assessment of the average length of
sentences imposed, the average length of sentences served, the proportion of offenders
released upon their first parole eligibility date, and any unwarranted disparities in
(b) No later than April 5, 2000, the Advisory Commission shall submit to the Council a
comprehensive proposal to implement the National Capital Revitalization and
Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, P.L. 105-33. Such measures may be in the form of
administrative regulations, proposed legislation, or both. If presented as administrative
regulations, the regulations shall become effective on August 5, 2000, if the D.C. Council
takes no action upon them by June 5, 2000. The Commission's report shall include:
(1) A recommendation as to whether determinate sentencing should be extended to all
felonies, or to additional criminal offenses under District of Columbia law beyond those
specified in section 11211 (h) of the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government
Improvement Act of 1997, P.L. 105-33;
(2) An assessment of current sentencing practices in the District of Columbia;
(3) An assessment of any rules and principles for determining the sentence to be
imposed, whether administrative or legislative, necessary to ensure that no unintended
increases or other unintended changes in average lengths of sentences or unwarranted
sentencing disparities result from the implementation of the Act.
(4) A projection of the impact, if any, on the size of the District's prison population
of the implementation each measure proposed by the Commission;
(5) An assessment as to whether, as implemented, the Commission's recommendations will
be neutral with respect to race, sex, marital status, ethnic origin, religious
affiliation, national origin, creed, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation of
(6) An evaluation of the appropriate limits and conditions on terms of supervised
release, including whether there should be a mechanism for changing the length of a term
of supervised release after its imposition, and any limitations that should apply with
respect to the ratio between a prison term of sentence and a supervised release term;
(7) A determination of the appropriate length in years of a life sentence for purposes
of the determinate sentencing procedures;
(8) An assessment of the intermediate sanctions now available in the District's
criminal justice system and a recommendation for intermediate sanctions that should be mad
(9) A proposal for the development of alternatives to incarceration for suitable
offenders, the estimated cost of such programs, and recommendations for rules or
principles to govern a judge's imposition of intermediate sanctions as part of a criminal
(10) A recommendation to maximize the effectiveness of the Drug Court;
(11) A recommendation as to whether the approaches or methods used in Drug Court would
be effective in other areas of the District's criminal justice system;
(12) A recommendation as to whether multiple sentences should run concurrently or
consecutively, and what limits, if any, should be placed on the imposition of consecutive
(13) An assessment as to whether special release or sentencing rules should apply with
respect to certain categories of offenders or prisoners, such as the young, elderly,
infirm or terminally ill.
(14) An evaluation of any other recommended changes to the District's criminal
sentencing laws, including but not limited to those governing statutory maximum sentences,
mandatory minimum sentences, and an offender's rights of appeal.
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Sec. 6. Sentencing guidelines.
(a) If the Commission recommends a system of sentencing guidelines as part of its
report as required by subsection (b) above, any such body of guidelines shall:
(1) Specify whether to impose a sentence of probation, a term of imprisonment, and/or a
fine, and the amount or length of each;
(2) Include provisions for the application of intermediate sanctions in appropriate
(3) Be binding upon the court but sufficiently flexible to permit individualized
determinations in each case;
(4) Be appropriate to the high volume of criminal cases brought in D.C. Superior Court;
(5) Provide that an offender's punishment is based on the offense of conviction;
(6) Be accompanied by proposed legislation to provide for such appeal rights from
sentencing determinations as may be appropriate or constitutionally required.
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Sec. 7. Analysis of correctional impact.
Any recommendations by the Commission for regulatory changes or legislative amendments
relating to crime, sentencing or correctional matters shall take into substantial
consideration existing correctional resources, including the availability of intermediate
sanctions, and shall be accompanied by an assessment of the impact, if any, on the size of
the District prison population resulting from such change. The Commission shall not
recommend such changes unless it has made an assessment that the costs of a recommended
change would be commensurate with the benefits to criminal justice administration, without
regard to the identity of the particular governmental body responsible for financing the
correctional facilities at issue.
Sec. 8. Cooperation from other agencies.
Other agencies of the government of the District of Columbia, including but not limited
to the District of Columbia Courts, the Department of Corrections, the Parole Board, the
Pretrial Services Agency and successor agencies to any of these entities, shall cooperate
in providing such information to the Advisory Commission on Sentencing as may be necessary
to fulfill its statutory responsibilities.
Sec. 9. Council action.
The Council of the District of Columbia shall act upon the Commission's report by
August 5, 2000.
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Sec. 10. Fiscal impact statement.
The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal
impact statement required by section 602(c)(3) of the District of Columbia Self-Government
and Governmental Reorganization Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 State. 813; D.C. Code
Sec. 11. Effective date.
This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by
the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), approval by the Financial
Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority as provided in section 203(a) of the
District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995,
approved April 17, 1995 (109 Stat. 116; D.C. Code §47-392.3(a)), a 30-day period of
Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home
Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Code §1-233(c)(1)), and
publication in the District of Columbia Register.