For Immediate Release
September 18, 2014
Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun
Grosso’s Criminal Justice Bills Pass through Committee
Washington, D.C. -- Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), a strong advocate of criminal justice reform, is pleased to announce that two major bills that he introduced, the Record Sealing for Decriminalized and Legalized Offenses Amendment Act of 2014 and the Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones and Drug Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014 passed in the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. Both bills were noticed to be placed on the legislative agenda for the upcoming legislative meeting on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.
The Record Sealing for Decriminalized and Legalized Offenses Amendment Act of 2014 was introduced as a companion bill to Grosso’s legislation to tax and regulate marijuana in the District of Columbia. The bill will ensure that residents with a non-violent misdemeanor or felony possession of marijuana as their only prior criminal history can have their records for those charges or arrests sealed by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Superior Court. Furthermore, employers will be prohibited from asking if an applicant previously had their records expunged or sealed. “For perspective, there were 20,000 arrests in the District of Columbia over a 10 year period for a non-violent possession of marijuana. This will help thousands of D.C. residents. The legislation is also critical to addressing barriers to employment, housing and education,” said Grosso.
The Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones and Drug Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014 will reverse the current rulemaking allowing MPD to declare a particular location as a prostitution free zone for a 20-day period. A task force of experts who investigated MPD’s handling of hate crimes reported that transgender women and women of color expressed that MPD officers view and treat them as criminals. “Repeal of the prostitution free zones is long overdue,” says Grosso. “The prostitution free zones are a gateway to racial profiling. The repeal of these particular zones is a matter of justice and protecting communities that are heavily impacted.” The legislation was expanded to also repeal the Anti-Loitering/Drug Free Zone Act of 1996. Since the language creating prostitution free zones and the Drug Free Zone Act are nearly identical, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety believed that both laws are likely unconstitutional.
Note: Both bill titles as introduced were Record Sealing for Non-Violent Marijuana Possession Act of 2013 and Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014.