U.S. Attorney Won’t Prosecute Most D.C. Crime

The nation’s crime-ridden capital can’t count on its US attorney to bring perpetrators to justice, as the record shows Matthew Graves declined to prosecute 67% of those arrested for crimes in 2021.

Graves is the U.S. Attorney for D.C. (what would be called a “DA” or “prosecutor”). He was appointed by President Joe Biden. 

Records show Graves declined to follow through with prosecuting the majority of people arrested by D.C. police. Graves defends his actions, saying the majority of cases he declined to pursue were for non-violent offenses such as gun possession, burglary, and drug possession.

The US attorney says his office is prosecuting 88 percent of “violent crimes” that land on his desk. But D.C.’s police chief says the lack of prosecutions is a real problem, and it’s not the District’s police force at fault.

“I can promise you it’s not the MPD (Metropolitan Police Department) holding the bag on this,” said D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee.

Contee said cops are concerned, and they believe everyone they arrest “should be off the streets.”

The chief has also spoken out about the lack of consequences criminals face in his city. Earlier this month, he said the answer to the problem was easy: “Keep violent people in jail.”

Concerned cops can’t count on D.C. City Council for support either. Despite the extraordinary rise in crime in the capital, the Council floated a bill earlier this year that would have decreased the penalties for crimes such as burglary and car-jacking. The US Congress, which has Constitutional authority over D.C., quashed that proposal. President Biden signed the legislation.

Crime is up in all major American cities, but Washington stands out for its low prosecution rate. In Detroit, for example, the prosecutor’s office declined to follow through with prosecution for just 33% of arrests made. Chicago declined 14%, and Philadelphia just 4%.

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