US attorney declined to prosecute 67% of arrests in DC: report

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia declined to prosecute the vast majority of arrests made in the nation's capital last year, according to a new report.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, who was appointed by President Biden, declined to prosecute 67% of those arrested in the city in 2021. While critics argue Graves is leaving criminals on the street, he states that the majority of the declinations are for nonviolent crimes, like gun possession, drug possession and burglaries.

"I can promise you, it’s not MPD holding the bag on this. That’s B.S.," D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee told The Washington Post. "Of course we are concerned. We believe every person we arrest should be off the streets."

The shockingly low prosecution rate comes in stark contrast to those of other major U.S. cities. The U.S. attorney operating in Detroit declined to prosecute just 33% of arrests, while the attorney for Chicago declined 14% and the attorney for Philadelphia declined just 4%, according to the Post.


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Graves points out that the city is prosecuting 87.9% of those arrested for violent crimes.

"The bottom line is that it creates the impression that this is an across the board decrease in the number of cases we are bringing. That is simply not true," Graves told the outlet.

Contee has expressed frustration with the lack of consequences for crimes in the city for weeks. Earlier this month, he offered a simple solution for what the nation's capital can do differently to get homicides down: "Keep violent people in jail."

"What we got to do, if we really want to see homicides go down, is keep bad guys with guns in jail. Because when they're in jail, they can't be in communities shooting people. So when people talk about what we gonna do different, or what we should do different, what we need to do different, that’s the thing that we need to do different," Contee said March 8.

Contee has diagnosed the problem as an issue with the city's youth, saying his department has seen an alarming rise in robbery and other violent charges as first offenses among young people.

"Their first offense, their first introduction to the criminal justice system – 100 young people for robbery," the chief of police lamented. "I looked at a video about two days ago at a charter school, where three young people took another person's shoes off them – while they're in school – and put the shoes in a trash can while somebody else recorded it."