Laurel Duggan on March 29, 2023
Federal prosecutors in the Washington, D.C. U.S. attorney’s office declined to prosecute 67% of those arrested bythe police in cases that would have beentried in the D.C. Superior Court in 2022, according to The Washington Post.
Matthew Graves, the District’s Biden-appointed U.S. attorney, said the office is prosecuting most violent felonies and that the cases most frequently dropped are gun possession, drug possession and burglaries, according to the Post. The local police chief has said officers aren’t to blame, and that every person they arrest needs to be taken off the city’s streets.
“Of course we are concerned,” Robert J. Contee III, the Washington, D.C. police chief, told the Post. “We believe every person we arrest should be off the streets.”
“I can promise you, it’s not MPD holding the bag on this,” he said. “That’s B.S.”
As recently as 2015, the prosecutor’s office was only rejecting 35% of arrests that would have been tried in the Superior Court, according to the Post. At 67%, the D.C. office declines far more cases than comparable local or prosecutor’s offices; the prosecutor’s office in Wayne County, Michigan, where Detroit is located, declined 33% of cases last year, while prosecutors in Philadelphia declined 4% and prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, declined 14%, according to the Post.
Graves’ office prosecuted 87.9% of arrests made inhomicides, armed carjackings, assaults with intent to kill and first-degree sexual assault cases in 2022, he told the Post; in 2018 that figure was 95.6%.
The Washington, D.C. crime lab has been unaccredited since 2021, meaning prosecutors have to pay to have evidence examined at outside laboratories, and violent offenses are prioritized, according to the Post. Graves also told the outlet that police body camera footage has increased the proportion of cases prosecutors drop because they can tell earlier whether there’s sufficient evidence for a conviction.
Graves’ office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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