Vera Institute of Justice on President Biden’s Refusal to Veto the Blocking of Washington D.C.’s Criminal Code Reforms

MARCH 3, 2023
Contact: Michael Czaczkes,, 917-285-0277

New York - Yesterday, President Biden announced that he would not oppose a Republican-led effort to repeal long overdue reforms to Washington D.C.’s criminal code. Nicholas Turner, president and director of the Vera Institute of Justice, issued the following statement:

“President Biden’s announced intention to not veto this measure is a profound disappointment. It is a clear capitulation to politics over sound policy and an insult to representative democracy and the sovereignty of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia’s Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022 (RCCA) is based on practical, evidence-driven public safety solutions that would update an antiquated and inherently unjust criminal code—one that has not been modernized substantially in more than 120 years. The RCCA is the product of 16 years of work that involved prosecutors, victims, community members, and elected leaders.

President Biden objects to certain provisions that restore proportionality to sentencing. Research shows that unduly long sentences do not make us safer because they do not have a deterrent effect and impose harms and instability on the broader community. Appearing ‘tough on crime,’ despite its conventional popularity, is routinely rejected by voters and has never delivered safety. We can have safety and justice, which this rewrite of the code would deliver.

President Biden and the Senate must stand strong, respect the will of District residents, and not block thoroughly considered, evidence-driven policy due to political considerations and fear of old-school, partisan, and inflammatory attacks.”


About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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