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Federal Arrests During Pandemic Dropped To Two-Decade Low

Arrests by federal law enforcement agencies declined 35 percent from fiscal years 2020 to 2021, reaching the lowest level over the past two decades, reports the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, federal arrests declined 81 percent and cases charged in federal court declined 77 perent, from March to April 2020, with an additional decline of 25 percent in arrests and 20 percent in cases charged, from October 2020 to February 2021. About 6 in 10 federal arrests in 2021 were for immigration, drug, or supervision violations. The largest percentage decrease in arrests from FY 2020 to FY 2021 was for immigration offenses (down 72 percent), from 51,723 to 14,446 arrests. Arrests for property offenses increased 11 percent.


While federal arrests declined substantially from 2020 to 2021, the number of persons charged with a federal offense fell less than one percent, from 66,059 to 65,880. During that period, the number of persons charged with violent offenses increased 18 percent and the number charged with public order offenses increased 13 percent, while the number of persons charged with immigration offenses decreased 18 percent. The median number of days from case filing in U.S. district court to case termination was 300 in fiscal 2021, up from 212 days in fiscal 2020. The median time from receipt of an investigation to the decision by a U.S. attorney to prosecute or decline a matter was 70 days in FY 2021, up from 27 days in FY 2020. Of the 63,380 defendants adjudicated in federal district courts in fiscal 2021, about 9 in 10 were convicted. Among those convicted, nearly three-quarters were sentenced to prison. For the 10-year period from 2011 to 2021, the number of persons under federal correctional control declined 15 percent, from 410,887 to 350,543.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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