Biden prosecutor goes soft on DC crime

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Biden prosecutor goes soft on DC crime

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Crime is raging in the Democratic-controlled District of Columbia. Overall crime is up 25%, murders are up 20%, and just a few weeks ago, a congresswoman was mugged in her own apartment building.

Crime is so bad that President Joe Biden flip-flopped on his promise to honor the D.C. Council’s sovereignty over the District of Columbia. Despite first announcing he would use his veto to protect the council’s soft-on-crime reform bill from House Republicans, Biden reversed course.

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Many saw this about-face as a move toward the center designed to make Biden appear tough on crime as he prepares to announce his 2024 reelection campaign. The problem is Biden appointed a weak-on-crime prosecutor to be the U.S. attorney for Washington, and the man simply isn’t doing his job.

According to data compiled by DC Crime Facts, U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves chose not to prosecute 67% of all the cases brought to him by police last year. That is twice the percentage of cases not prosecuted from just seven years ago.

Graves claims the failure to prosecute so many cases isn’t his fault. First, he blames the district’s Department of Forensic Science, which hasn’t been accredited since 2021. This forces prosecutors to send DNA and fingerprint analysis to outside labs to be processed. Next, Graves blames a district law that prevents Metropolitan Police Department officers from viewing their own body camera footage before filing out charging documents. Without being able to see this footage, arresting officers might describe events based on memory that doesn’t match what is on camera. Even the smallest discrepancy can undermine an officer’s credibility in front of a jury.

These are both real obstacles to prosecuting crime. But then, why hasn’t Biden made it his priority to address them?

Washington is a federal district. It is ultimately the federal government’s job to ensure its safety despite whatever lip service Biden pays to district home rule. Why hasn’t Biden made fixing the crime lab a priority? Why hasn’t he led the charge to repeal the district law that prevents police from reviewing their body camera footage? Where is Biden’s leadership on keeping the district safe?

Even so, Graves should not be let off the hook entirely for Biden’s neglect. As Graves is eager to point out, his office is aggressively prosecuting 88% of all homicide and armed carjacking cases brought to them. But this little statistic only undermines Graves’s first two excuses. If the crime lab and body cameras are a problem, why are they only affecting Graves’s ability to prosecute nonviolent crimes? Why the discrepancy?

The reality is that, like so many other Democratically appointed prosecutors, Graves does not prosecute nonviolent offenses because that is now the accepted practice of the Democratic Party on crime. Democrats believe nonviolent offenders, especially in communities where the offenders are likely to be demographic minorities, should not be prosecuted.

Unfortunately, as MPD Chief Robert Contee noted earlier this month, when you don’t prosecute crimes and keep people in jail, this generates more crime. “What we gotta do if we really want to see homicides go down is keep bad guys with guns in jail,” Contee said at a press conference. “Right now, the average homicide suspect has been arrested 11 times prior to them committing a homicide. That is a problem.”

It is a problem that the prosecutor Biden appointed for Washington isn’t prosecuting nonviolent crimes like gun possession. What the district needs is a president with a proven track record of enforcing the law, even if it means sending nonviolent offenders to jail.

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