Editorial: The catastrophic consequences of Lawrence Krasner12/07/2022 10:14AM ● By Richard Gaw
When he first became
Philadelphia’s Attorney General in 2018, Lawrence Krasner quickly became the
spokesperson among a new wave of prosecutors who were setting out to repair the city’s ruptured criminal justice
system. Once implemented, the new system would measure its success not by the
number of convictions made or the length of prison sentences, but rather by the
way it would dramatically reverse law enforcement practices that would hold police more accountable.
Doing so, Krasner said, would restore the public’s trust in the law, restore
the city’s violence-plagued neighborhoods, and dramatically reduce gun crime.
It was a philosophy steeped in the belief that if you empower people with positivity, they will respond positively. “What conservatives have said forever is you can have safety, or you can have freedom,” Krasner said in an interview soon after he took office. “But people’s freedom makes us safer.”
Included as part of his progressive approach to fighting violence, Krasner has slashed probation sentences, aggressively pursued cases against police officers accused of misconduct, and exonerated two dozen people who were previously convicted by his predecessors.
Krasner denies that Philadelphia has experienced “a crisis of lawlessness,” and in a recent interview, he told a Philadelphia television reporter that his crime policies are working. They are not, and to publicly assert otherwise is delusional.
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According to statistics compiled by Open Data Philly, there were 249 fatal and 1,074 non-fatal shootings in Philadelphia in 2016. By 2020, those figures had risen to 414 and 1,831, and in 2021, 486 people were killed by guns and 1,846 were injured. Over the last five years, Philadelphia gun violence has reached unprecedented levels and perpetuated a daily epidemic of violence. Last weekend alone, 20 people were shot in Philadelphia and four of them were killed.
In the five years of Krasner’s tenure, the City of Philadelphia has been on trial for its failure to chase down and apprehend these runaway statistics. Soon, the individual who has helped to orchestrate these abysmal figures will also be on trial.
In October, the Pennsylvania House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order – chaired by State Rep. John Lawrence – issued a 63-page report that pointed to Krasner’s record, one that has seen a declining conviction rate and a meteoric rise in the number of firearms cases being withdrawn or dismissed --- all of which form a direct link to the rise in gun violence, the report said.
“In light of what is happening it would be a dereliction of duty if we did not take action,” Lawrence said.
In November, the Pennsylvania State House voted 107-85 in favor of impeachment of Krasner, for what they called “misbehavior in office” and the “catastrophic consequences of progressive philosophies.” When the impeachment trial begins in January, State Rep. Craig Williams will be one of three Pennsylvania lawmakers to deliver articles of impeachment against Krasner and manage the trial on behalf of the House. Removing Krasner from his office would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slight majority of the 50 seats.
Krasner has fought back, claiming that the impeachment was done in an effort for Republican lawmakers to “seek political points” during the time of elections, and he has filed a lawsuit against the impeachment effort, questioning whether it is legal to remove a public official.
While Krasner continues to lob accusations, what he fails to understand is that these impeachment hearings are not being entered into merely as a tactic to supplant the district attorney and his progressive policies – and certainly do not have anything to do with politics. Ultimately, the task for legislators like Lawrence and Williams is to undertake these proceedings with the goal of saving one city, and in doing so, preserve the memory of those Philadelphians whose lives have been reduced to statistics, and whose last breaths on Earth came before the barrel of a gun.