We’ve heard a lot about crime in Washington D.C. Both because crime has spiked in the city, and because the D.C. local government is filled with a bunch of prosecution-averse politicians.
Two high-profile crimes–one against a Minnesota Congresswoman named Angie Craig, and another against an aide to Rand Paul–have upped the visibility of D.C.’s crime problem. After Craig’s assault, Congress vetoed a criminal justice reform measure that the D.C. government was pushing.
All this leaves the impression that the real problem in Washington D.C. is a Leftist local government that coddles criminals.
That impression is wrong, or at least incomplete. It turns out that a big piece of the puzzle is Joe Biden’s choice for U.S. Attorney in the District.
Washington D.C. is, ultimately, run by the federal government. There is nominal local government, but unlike the several states, the ultimate responsibility lies with the federal government. It was set up that way by the founders to (try to) ensure that the government itself didn’t become an overwhelming political actor with its own interests. Technically the states run the District through the federal government, which is of course run by Congress and the President.
This is why there is always talk about DC statehood–essentially overruling the Constitution and making the federal government itself a state.
This is all background to understanding this: the U.S. Attorney, not a local District Attorney, is the prosecutor for the District. He is a Joe Biden appointee.
And he doesn’t prosecute crimes.
Or, should I say, he refuses to prosecute 2/3rds of all crimes charged in the District. That’s some “prosecutorial discretion.”
As you might imagine, the Metro Police aren’t happy. They catch the bad guys, and Biden’s appointee lets them go.
As the District grapples with rising crime and increasing attention from federal lawmakers over public safety issues, a startling statistic emerged in recent weeks.
Last year, federal prosecutors in the District’s U.S. attorney’s office chose not to prosecute 67 percent of those arrested by police officers in cases that would have been tried in D.C. Superior Court.
That figure, first reported earlier this month on the substack DC Crime Facts, nearly doubled from 2015, when prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute 35 percent of such cases.
The increased number of declined cases has sparked frustration among city leaders who are already under a national microscope from members of Congress for their crime fighting efforts. The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday where Republicans will examine management of D.C., particularly on crime and safety. Earlier this month, the Senate joined the House of Representatives in voting to reject an overhaul of the city’s criminal code, in part because it called for reducing penalties for certain crimes, including carjacking.
Of course, Congress was right to reject the ridiculously woke “reform” of the city’s criminal code, but if the prosecutor refuses to prosecute it really doesn’t make a bit of difference whether something is illegal or not.
Biden’s appointee is Matthew Graves, and he insists he is doing his job. I’m not quite sure that he knows that his job is to prosecute criminals, though.
The U.S. attorney’s office in the District is unique among federal prosecutor shops across the country. It prosecutes both local, D.C.–based crimesin Superior Court, as any local prosecutor or district attorney’s office would, as well as federal cases in U.S. District Court.
But even compared to a local prosecutor’s office, a 67 percent declination rate is high. For example, in Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit, the prosecutor’s office reported declining 33 percent of its cases last year. Prosecutors in Philadelphia declined 4 percent and prosecutors in Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, declined 14 percent, according to data from those offices.
Apparently, you don’t need to have a Soros prosecutor in charge to spike the crime rate. A Biden appointee will do just fine.
Graves claims that he is hampered by the deficiencies of DC’s government and police, and in that he may have a point. But a pretty minor one. While a better police department would give him more slam-dunk cases rather than ones he would have to do work on, that isn’t much of an excuse. It is a real problem, but not an excuse for giving up.
Failing to prosecute 2/3rds of cases is giving up.
Deborah Sines, a retired federal homicide prosecutor in the District, said the U.S. attorney’s office is hampered by “poor police work,” but also prosecutors and supervisors “who only want to try slam-dunk cases.”
“I would get angry when I would see defendants in homicide cases in front of me who had previous gun possession charges that a prosecutor had previously dismissed,” Sines said. “Some cases are going to be challenging, yes. But that’s your job. Do your job. Don’t just dismiss it just because the evidence is not everything you want it to be or think it should be.”
The consequences of Graves’–and by extension Biden’s–failures are dire:
As of Tuesday, overall crime was up in D.C. by 23 percent over the same time last year, fueled in large part by a spike in motor vehicle thefts, according to D.C. police data. Homicides were up 19 percent, though violent crime was even with last year because of drops in robberies and assaults with a deadly weapon.
Let’s go Brandon!