(Editor’s note: Local Jeff Magill is the father of Margery Magill, who was randomly targeted and murdered in Washington, D.C., earlier this year by a man with mental health issues.)
D.C.’s IRAA and Second Look Act are big mistakes:
The current Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA) and proposed Second Look Act of 2019 are counter-productive to justice for the citizens of Washington, D. C. The D. C. Council should repeal IRAA and the Second Look Act for the following reasons.
1. Early release evaluation hearings under the IRAA do not take into consideration the nature of the offense for which the criminal was sentenced. This invalidates the component of the original sentence intended to provide some measure of justice to the victim, the victim’s surviving family, and the community at large. It strips victims from their sense of finality, and upends decades of local and national efforts to ensure truth in sentencing. The IRAA and the newly proposed Second Look Act ignores how painful this process is for victims and will drastically enhance the trauma of the surviving victims.
2. The IRAA was amended in May of this year to allow defendants to request 15 years, even if parole had been denied. The amendment also removes “the nature of the offense” from factors the judge must consider.
3. Approximately one third of these released early under the provisions of the IRAA (convicted of murders, rapes, armed robbery, and armed kidnapping among other crimes) have re-offended within 3 years of release.
Second Look Act of 2019:
1. The new proposed legislation would expand the IRAA’s eligibility to adult offenders – those who committed violent offenses between the ages of 18-24 years. The proposed legislation could thus allow an adult defendant to be released after serving only 15 years in prison, regardless of the original sentence imposed, and despite the “brutality or coldblooded nature” of the offense, if the court determines that the defendant is not a danger to the community or to any person.
2. This proposal is too lenient on adults guilty of violent crimes. This proposed legislation is not evidence-based, and makes little consideration of the rights of victims and their grieving loved ones. This law was proposed during a period in which the homicide rate in the District increased significantly.
3. If the D. C. Council passes this law, more than 500 violent criminals would be immediately eligible to apply for release.
These two laws, one currently in place and the other proposed, are not supported by the D.C. Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice, or me, the father of Margery Magill, who was brutally murdered at random by a 24-year-old defendant who would be eligible for release in 15 years under the Second Look Act. Perhaps the defendant in her murder “deserves a second chance,” but my beautiful daughter Margery will never get a second chance. This is terribly wrong and very painful for me, my family, her many friends, and relatives. Because Margery’s murder cannot be undone, even a lifetime sentence for her murderer is insufficient justice for her and those who love her. These current and proposed laws will ensure that our justice is even less sufficient.
I ask the D.C. Board to rescind the IRAA and drop the consideration of the Second Look Act of 2019.