(2ANews) – According to the most recent data from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, two-thirds of individuals arrested in Washington, D.C. do not face criminal charges.
In fiscal year 2022, D.C. police made 15,315 arrests, of which the U.S. Attorney’s Office elected not to prosecute 67 percent, including 8,238 misdemeanor arrests and 2,023 felony arrests. The report arrives as the D.C. City Council withdrew its contentious criminal code revision, which reduced penalties for illegal gun possession and carjacking, among other offenses, after Republican lawmakers and President Joe Biden indicated they would overturn the legislation citing the city’s surging crime rates. Democrats in favor of the new code criticized the Congressional resolution as “an absolute travesty” for the D.C. statehood movement.
According to the Washington City Paper, an attorney’s office spokesperson attributed the trend to unreliable forensic testing of evidence and police body cameras:
“First, because the district’s Department of Forensic Sciences evidence lost its accreditation, we often cannot secure the drug testing, DNA, and firearms testing we need to successfully prosecute these offenses,” according to the [U.S. Attorney’s Office]. “Second, we have, in the last few years, been able to incorporate body-worn camera [footage] into our charging decisions, which allows us to identify challenges before we charge. As a result, we are seeing fewer charged cases being dismissed by courts.”
[The Metropolitan Police Department] outfitted its officers with body cameras by the end of 2016, which roughly coincides with the current trend in disparities between arrests and prosecutions. Body camera footage, in particular, has the potential to reveal flaws in police work that could diminish the strength of other evidence in a case. The Washington Post recently reported that as many as 90 gun and drug cases have been dismissed from D.C. Superior Court in the past two years after serious questions arose about the veracity of [police] officers in the Seventh District.