In February 2019, then-U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu announced a new prosecutorial policy of bringing felon in possession cases in federal court over local D.C. court. The policy subjects District residents charged with these crimes—a subset of the population that is overwhelmingly Black—to higher potential sentences and a higher likelihood of pretrial detention, and has been widely criticized. As we previously discussed, its race-based design and impact (including the fact that it was originally only enforced in three majority-Black police districts in D.C.) as well as its infringement on D.C.’s self-governance are cause for concern.
Advocates have been pushing for the federal government to end the policy, but a recent ransomware attack of MPD server files raised questions around MPD’s role in this policy. Specifically, news reporting suggested the existence of a folder entitled “Felon in Possession Project” on MPD’s server. To that end, on May 18, 2021, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents affiliated with MPD’s “Felon in Possession Project.” The public deserves to know how, exactly, its police department is involved in this policy.