Last week in Washington, D.C, the City Council passed a sweeping overhaul to the city’s criminal codes. Touted as yet another example of “justice reform,” the changes reduced or removed bail for most crimes, and lowered or eliminated minimum sentences for many crimes while also lowering some maximum sentences. As we’ve seen in so many other cities, the overarching goal of the legislation was to further empty the jails and put criminals back out on the streets more quickly.
There was a tragic bit of irony taking place even as the measure came up for a final vote, however. One of the people who had been actively lobbying and promoting the “justice reform” measure was Kelvin Blowe, a 32-year-old activist with DC Justice Lab. On the night of the City Council meeting, Blowe was driving some colleagues home from his job as a security guard when he was caught up in an automobile accident. He exited his vehicle for reasons unknown and was promptly shot dead by someone on the street. Police say that no arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation. (FOX 5 DC)
A man who helped pass D.C.’s historic criminal code overhaul was shot and killed hours before council passed the bill last week.
Kelvin Blowe, 32, worked with DC Justice Lab, a group that advocates for criminal justice reform in the city.
Family said he also did security work, and early Tuesday morning, Blowe had just finished a late night security guard job and was driving some co-workers home.
He was on Southern Ave. near Suitland Parkway in SE when police say there was a crash after a driver crossed the line to try to pass Blowe’s car.
Kelvin Blowe sounds like he was an admirable if troubled person. He served in the Marines but was diagnosed with PTSD after being discharged. He fell into drug abuse and eventually spent some time in prison because of it. But since being released, he had reportedly stayed clean, kept a job, and volunteered with civil rights groups.
His work with DC Justice Lab perhaps made sense given his background. Having experienced life in prison himself, perhaps he felt that criminal just reform should be prioritized. And there have no doubt been many people locked up for drug crimes who would have benefitted from an opportunity to receive addiction treatment as opposed to a lengthy sentence.
But the “reforms” that the group was pushing went much further than that. Under these new rules, it will be virtually impossible to keep suspects behind bars for anything less than second-degree murder. We have no way of knowing if the person who shot Blowe was a member of a gang or had some other criminal record, but the crime rates in the District of Columbia suggest that it’s certainly a possibility.
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the City Council waited until after the election to pass this mess. The murder rate in Washington this year has already reached a fifteen-year high. Passing a law designed to put more criminals out on the street more quickly just before an election might have cost some Democrats on the City Council their jobs. But now that the election is behind us, it would appear that everything is going back to business as usual in the Capitol region. Sadly, “business as usual” cost Kelvin Blowe his life.