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District of Columbia Sentencing Commission

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Truth in Sentencing Commission

Truth in Sentencing Commission The Revitalization Act established the District of Columbia Truth in Sentencing Commission ("TIS Commission"), and directed it to make recommendations to the Council of the District of Columbia for amendments to the District of Columbia Code with respect to the sentences to be imposed for felonies committed on or after August 5, 2000. As to all felonies, the TIS Commission recommendations had to ensure that:

  • an offender's sentence reflect the seriousness of the offense committed and the offender's criminal history, and provide for just punishment, adequate deterrence, and appropriate education, vocational training, medical care and other correctional treatment;
  • good time credit be calculated pursuant to section 3624 of title 18 of the United States Code (no more than 15%); and
  • an adequate period of supervised release follow release from imprisonment.

The principal effect of these provisions is to convert the District's sentencing system for all subsection (h) felonies from an indeterminate system of minimum and maximum prison terms, with parole, to a determinate system with a single prison term imposed, at least 85% of which the defendant would be required to serve, followed by a period of supervision following release from incarceration.

The Revitalization Act also provided that the TIS Commission recommendations should maximize the effectiveness of the drug court program in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ("Superior Court"), and ensure that any changes to sentencing be neutral as to an offender's race, sex, marital status, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, national origin, creed, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation. The TIS Commission had no authority to recommend the death penalty for any offense. Nor could the TIS Commissio

The TIS Commission proceeded from the premise that the Council of the District of Columbia, a locally elected body, is the appropriate entity to make significant changes to sentencing policy in all areas where Congress did not mandate TIS Commission action. For this reason, the TIS Commission limited its proposal to the absolute minimum necessary to comply with the Revitalization Act, leaving a number of important issues for the Council to decide. See TIS Outstanding Issues.

On February 1, 1998, the TIS Commission submitted its legislative recommendation to the Council of the District of Columbia. The Council ultimately adopted this proposal, known as the Truth in Sentencing Amendment Act of 1998, effective October 10, 1998 (DC Law 12-165; DC Code § 24-203.1 et seq.).

In a second submission to the Council, the TIS Commission generally described outstanding issues, and recommended the creation of an entity within the District government to s erve as an advisory body to assist the Council in resolving these issues.