A criminal justice reform advocate who helped pass sweeping changes to the penal code, including reduced sentences for those convicted of crimes in Washington, DC, was shot to death in the city last Tuesday, just hours before the municipal council approved the bill.
Kelvin Blowe, 32, worked as a Policy and Advocacy Associate at the DC Justice Lab and testified before the DC City Council on reforming the city’s justice system.
At around 5:25 am on November 15, he was returning home from his job as a security guard when he was shot dead in the southeastern part of the city.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words what it feels like to see his work come true without being able to share in that celebration with him,” Patrice Sulton, executive director of the DC Justice Lab, told Fox 5 DC. “Somehow, the The moment is an additional injury on top of the loss. And I think we lost a really powerful voice in a really important movement and that’s not something we can replace.”
The city council approved the criminal justice review hours after his death. If signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, she will eliminate most mandatory minimum sentences, expand who is eligible for jury trials, and reduce maximum penalties for burglaries, car thefts and burglaries, according to the Washington Post.
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Blowe, a Marine Corps veteran, battled PTSD and drugs after he got out of the military, which led to a 66-month prison sentence. His time behind bars inspired him to help others navigate society after being incarcerated.
“We have to learn to love each other and unite the city, that’s what my nephew was trying to do,” the Rev. Keith Johnson, Blowe’s uncle who helped raise him and his siblings, told Fox 5 DC. .
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DC police said Monday there has been no progress in the investigation of Blowe’s murder.