Support the Second Look Amendment Act!
With passage of the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA) in 2016 and subsequent amendments, DC law provided an opportunity for the re-sentencing of youth who were tried as adults and given long sentences from crimes committed when they were under 18, and had served at least 15 years in prison. In determining whether to reduce the sentence, the court is to consider many factors, including whether the individual has demonstrated maturity and demonstrated sufficient rehabilitation to safely return to the community. Recently, Councilmember Charles Allen introduced the Second Look Amendment Act of 2019 to amend the IRAA to further align with the latest research regarding the emerging adult population. Specifically, if passed, the Second Look Amendment Act will expand the opportunity to request re-sentencing to young adults who committed their offense between the ages of 18-25 and would hold all IRAA candidates awaiting re-sentencing in DC’s Correctional Treatment Facility. While this legislation doesn’t guarantee release, it provides for a meaningful sentence review. Please sign the petition below and lend your support to giving young people a second chance.
If you have any questions about this legislation or petition, please do not hesitate to reach out to Eduardo Ferrer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Paul Ashton (email@example.com).
From: [Your Name]
Dear Council Members:
The undersigned members of the community submit this letter in support of Bill 23-0127, the “Second Look Amendment Act of 2019.” We believe the proposed changes to the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act of 2016 (“IRAA”) are critical to creating a more equitable community and a rehabilitation-focused criminal justice
system. Passage of this legislation will strengthen the District’s efforts to lead in criminal justice reform, particularly as it relates to youth and young adults who came into contact with the justice system. The Bill would raise the age-threshold to allow eligible individuals who committed an offense before the age of 25 to petition D.C. Superior Court to have their sentences reviewed. This will ultimately result in a fairer justice system and a safer District of Columbia.
Raising the age is in line with what science has proven to be true: young adults and adolescents are distinctly different from mature adults, specifically in development of decision-making skills and impulse control. The current age threshold of 18 is an arbitrary distinction that does not signify a transition from adolescence to adulthood. By raising the age, this Bill not only supports the latest research on adolescent development, but also aligns with other youth-focused programming in the District, such as for the Youth Rehabilitation Act, the OSSE Reengagement Center, the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, and many GED programs. Brain development does not stop at 18, but instead continues through an individual’s mid-twenties, and our laws must reflect that young people are different and should be treated so.
It is important to note that while the changes proposed will by no means guarantee an individual’s release, it has the potential to stabilize communities that have historically been devastated by the criminal justice system. The District will be strengthened by reunifying families and returning home community members who have the great potential to become community leaders and can help to stem the tide of justice system involvement by engaging with individuals that may be at risk. We rely on you, our council representatives, to provide second chances to community members caught up in our justice system, and to make sure we have laws that work to keep our communities whole. As members of the community pushing for advancements in justice reform, we support this Bill and
urge you to do the same.