The number of criminal cases sent to federal prosecutors in the U.S. plunged by more than half during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers at
About 1,800 cases a week were referred to U.S. attorneys offices during the first half of March, down from about 4,500 in February, according to a study released late Wednesday. Many states began imposing stay-at-home orders in March and closed all but essential businesses.
U.S. attorneys determine whether to charge defendants in federal criminal cases brought by local police or federal agencies. But many of the referring agencies saw a drop cases as the coronavirus spread, according to researchers at Syracuse’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse who analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Justice obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
For example, referrals dropped in March from the
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