Lack of statehood means that D.C. does not have control over many aspects of our own criminal justice system and we’re unable to enact needed reforms.

In every other U.S. state, state judges are appointed by state officials or elected, but D.C. judges are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Although D.C. has a locally elected attorney general, all felonies and some misdemeanors are prosecuted by a federally appointed U.S. Attorney. This is important because all other cities and states have elected district attorneys who can work to reform local criminal justice policies and combat issues of mass incarceration through prosecutorial reform. In D.C., because all felonies and some misdemeanors are prosecuted by the federal U.S. Attorney who has no accountability to local voters, prosecutorial reform—which is key to combating mass incarceration—is virtually impossible.

Washington, D.C., – June 12, 2020: Protesters march down Pennsylvania Avenue in support of funding for communities, instead of police. 

D.C. also does not have control over our prison system. Those convicted of offenses in D.C are put into the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons, which incarcerates them as far away as California and Arizona. People in federal custody are less likely to maintain close family ties during their incarceration due to the distance and expense for family members to travel to visit, which hampers successful reentry after incarceration. Maintaining familial and community bonds is essential to successful rehabilitation both during and after incarceration. Incarcerating D.C. residents hundreds of miles from their home and connections is deeply harmful to D.C. families.

Finally, parole reform is an essential component to criminal justice reform, but, unlike every other state, D.C. lacks local control over our parole system. All parole decisions for D.C.’s returning citizens are made by the Federal U.S. Parole Commission instead of a local agency, making local parole reform impossible without federal policy changes or statehood.

People who live in D.C. cannot achieve statehood on our own.
We need your help.

Contact your member of Congress