From DC Crime Facts:
The US Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute 2/3 of the people that MPD arrested
Why is there so much disagreement between federal and local law enforcement?
Prosecutors have enormous power in the criminal justice system. In DC, most of this power resides within the Superior Court Division of the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) of the District of Columbia. They decide which cases to charge and how the government presents its evidence. In recent years, this division has declined to prosecute a growing share of MPD’s arrests so that now most arrests don’t result in charges:
In the most recent complete fiscal year (2022), USAO prosecutors “declined” 67% of all arrests; i.e. they reviewed the arrest and declined to press charges. This represents:
52% of felony arrests
72% of misdemeanor arrests
FY 2022 continued a trend of higher and higher declination rates that began in FY 2018 and continued under both Trump and Biden administration appointees
The USAO’s declination rate went from 31% in FY 2016 (Obama appointee) to 48% in FY 2020 (Trump appointee) to now 67% in FY 2022 (Biden appointee)
This increased declination rate is happening as the overall arrest rate is going down. Despite fewer arrests to review, prosecutors are still taking on a smaller share of them. As a result, the number of cases the USAO brings is down 68% from FY 2017.
The USAO isn’t “winning” a higher share of the much-smaller pool of cases they are taking on; suggesting that this trend isn’t simply them triaging the weakest cases