People stand outside the federal courthouse during the arraignment of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Jan. 20, 2017. Federal criminal prosecutions in the U.S. have plunged in the past five years. REUTERS

Federal prosecutions of crime have fallen dramatically in the recent past, according to a new study published by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday. While overall crime hasn't necessarily fallen in the U.S., the number of people who were facing federal criminal charges have dropped significantly since 2011.

Just 77,152 people were charged by federal prosecutors in 2016 compared to more than 102,617 in 2011, the latter of which was the highest number of charges in a single fiscal year dating back to 2001. The charges were primarily because of crimes as they related to drugs, immigration and "property offenses," with all three categories seeing heavy drops in those time spans.

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Pew attributed in part the decline to former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's 2013 memorandum to the DOJ and U.S. attorneys to "set quality, evidence-based priorities for the types of cases we bring with an eye toward promoting public safety, deterrence, and fairness. This necessarily will mean focusing our resources on fewer but the most significant cases."

Crimes as a whole have increased in the U.S. but violent crimes dipped slightly, according to the FBI's most recent national crime statistics in 2015. However, experts on crime told the New York Times that those statistics may not be entirely correct because crimes are more accurately tracked on a local level.

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"Why is there a rise? No one can possibly know that," director of the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School Robert Smith told the New York Times in September. "But crime statistics are most accurate when they are block by block, because even a neighborhood is too large."

The downward trend of federal prosecutions may be on the verge of reversing itself, however. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January to enhance "public safety" in the U.S. That immigration-focused order specifically called for law enforcement agencies to execute and enforce laws against undocumented immigrants who were in the country illegally and had violent criminal records. Since the executive order went into effect, there have been hundreds of arrests and deportations via Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids across the country.