Legislative Record - Public Safety
In 2017, Kenyan chaired the Judiciary Committee. He helped usher in sweeping updates to DC’s criminal justice laws and successfully passed comprehensive juvenile justice reform that ended the use of solitary confinement, life sentences, and indiscriminate shackling of juveniles in court. He also oversaw the implementation of DC’s police body-worn camera program, including ensuring that the public has fair access to the video footage from encounters with officers.
Kenyan has championed laws that ended unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to access to housing and employment for individuals with criminal
records or poor credit. But one of his proudest moments on the Council is passing the “Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act.” The law takes a holistic approach to prevent crime in the first instance and floods communities disproportionately impacted by violence with resources – including violence interrupters and behavioral and mental health services – in addition to more innovative, data-driven policing.
NEAR Act: Modern, data-driven and transparent law enforcement is an integral part of 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.
Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform: 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, former prosecutor and current lawmaker, Kenyan knows firsthand the importance of implementing and enforcing 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 with a focus on addressing the root causes of crime.
Body-Worn Cameras: Public safety cannot be achieved without transparency. Kenyan ushered in one of the first, and most expansive, police body-worn programs in the country. It places strategic safeguards to build community trust and promote accountability, prioritizing public access to recordings. Equally important, the law protects the privacy of individuals in their homes and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Finally, the law requires ongoing analysis and auditing of the program by both the District and third party researchers.