Despite Skyrocketing Crime Rate, U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C. Declined to Prosecute Majority of Arrests in 2022

Washington DC
Metro Police squad patrol car and Fire EMS Ambulance unit parked along closed streets during weekend Juneteenth Celebration. Washington, D.C. – June 16, 2022. File photo: 010110010101101, Shutter Stock, licensed.

WASHINGTON D.C. – Despite skyrocketing crime rates in Washington D.C., the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia reportedly refused to prosecute the majority of arrests made in the nation’s capital in 2022. 

U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, appointed by President Joe Biden, failed to prosecute 67 percent of the arrests made in Washington D.C. last year, stating his reasoning for doing so was because many of the offences in question were considered “nonviolent” crimes, such as gun possession, drug possession, and burglary. 

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, however, recently expressed his dismay over Graves’s low prosecution rate while his officers are out there every day trying to make the city safer, saying that he feels like he’s fighting a losing battle against the “soft on crime” U.S. Attorney. 

“I can promise you, it’s not [the Metropolitan Police Department] holding the bag on this. That’s B.S.,” Contee said. “Of course we are concerned. We believe every person we arrest should be off the streets.” 

Washington DC has a shockingly low prosecution rate, especially when compared to other major cities in the country; for example, Detroit, Michigan declined to arrest 33 percent of those arrested in 2022, and in Chicago, Illinois just 14 percent of those taken into custody had the charges dropped. 

“What we got to do, if we really want to see homicides go down, is keep bad guys with guns in jail,” Contee said. “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. 

Graves defended his actions, claiming that the city is prosecuting 87.9 percent of arrests 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 said. 

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