Washington — Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) today applauded the House’s passage of their bill to improve the criminal justice system in the District of Columbia.
The House of Representatives unanimously approved S. 1629, the District of Columbia Courts, Public Defender Service, and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency Act of 2015, which was introduced by Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Carper in June 2015.
The bill authorizes the District of Columbia court services and Offender Supervision Agency to develop and operate incentive programs to assist sentenced offenders as they return to society and reintegrate into their communities. The legislation also will allow the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia to accept contributions in the form of public grants, private contributions and pro bono legal services to ensure quality legal services for those who would otherwise be unable to afford legal counsel. The bill grants the district’s court system the authority to buy new uniforms and to collect overpayments to employees. The bill will now proceed to the president for signature.
Sen. Johnson said, “The District of Columbia court system is faced with many challenges, and I am pleased that my colleagues have voted to approve our bipartisan legislation that will improve local court and legal services. More importantly, the bill will help give former offenders in the District of Columbia the tools they need to overcome their mistakes and make meaningful contributions to society.”
Ranking Member Carper said, “This bipartisan measure puts a number of commonsense reforms into place at the District of Columbia’s court system, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and the Public Defender Service to help those agencies better serve District residents. Congress doesn’t always do right by the District of Columbia, but this bill is a positive effort to help these agencies operate more efficiently, and in turn be more effective in their important work. I am encouraged by the bipartisan effort that went into getting this bill across the finish line. I look forward to working with Chairman Johnson and our colleagues in Congress to advance other legislation and judicial nominations that help get better results for the District of Columbia and its residents.”
The full text of the bill can be found [here].