ADDRESSING CRIME AND MAKING DC SAFER
Kenyan grew up in in DC during the 1980s and early 1990s. He saw and understood the futility of using broken and ineffective “war on drugs”-style methods to combat violent crime. Public safety strategies have evolved, but not enough. All DC residents, regardless of zip code, should live in safe communities. That is one of the main reasons he left his job as a civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice to become a public servant.
As Judiciary Committee Chair, he successfully sought to ensure that smart, data-driven
criminal justice policy was at the Office of Attorney General’s disposal. He will continue
to work with his colleagues on the Council and Chair of the Judiciary Committee to
provide rigorous oversight and ensure the Mayor is implementing and enforcing
thoughtful and effective laws that keep our communities safe. As an At-Large
Councilmember, Kenyan will also work with partners in government, education,
community organizations, and faith groups to apply and expand proven community-
and public-health-based approaches to address the root causes of crime and reduce
violence. Kenyan will also continue to focus on improving policing so that DC’s law
enforcement and other public safety agencies are equipped to handle the challenges
of the 21st century.
Modern, data-driven, transparent law enforcement is integral to addressing crime and violence. But policing – in a vacuum – cannot be the full extent of public safety efforts. Kenyan authored and passed the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act, which uses the CURE Violence Model and applies a public health approach to violence prevention and intervention. The NEAR Act addresses crime in a long-term, sustainable way, including the use of cognitive and family-based therapy and wraparound services; engages those who are at high risk of participating in, or being a victim of, violent crime by providing evidence-based counseling, mentorship, and workforce development; prioritizes community policing and mandates open access to data to increase oversight and improve police department practices, including requiring the collection of data on felony crimes, stop-and-frisks, and use of force; and provides additional training for police officers on community policing, prevention of bias-based policing, and cultural competency.
As an At-Large Councilmember, Kenyan will build on this legislation and continue to enhance data-driven approaches that help combat crime.
For too long, the juvenile criminal justice system has relied on tools and practices geared towards adult offenders, which can be ineffective in reducing crime and providing rehabilitation for our youth. It is imperative that our juvenile justice system be grounded in emerging scientific knowledge about adolescent development and tailored to an individual offender's needs and social environment.
As a lifelong Washingtonian, a former prosecutor, and a current lawmaker, Kenyan knows firsthand the importance of implementing and enforcing a sound public policy that works in tandem with our law enforcement partners and court system. That is why he ushered into law comprehensive juvenile justice reform. The wide-ranging policy authored by Kenyan reduces DC’s school-to-prison pipeline by expanding voluntary victim-offender mediation services, eliminating the use of disciplinary segregation known as solitary confinement, and providing age-appropriate sentencing, including banning the use of juvenile life without parole sentences. The law also improves oversight of juvenile justice agencies and services by creating a data-driven approach focusing on addressing the root causes of crime. As an At-Large Councilmember, Kenyan will continue to champion policies that create better outcomes for youth and communities across the District.