A Pennsylvania House committee investigating Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner released their latest report, heavily criticizing Krasner for policies they believe contributed to rising crime without saying yet whether he should be impeached.
The House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order is tasked with, among other things, making determinations about the performance of the Democrat Krasner and other officials and whether they should be impeached or removed. Monday’s interim report did not even call for a vote on impeachment, although committee chair Rep. John Lawrence noted that their work is not yet complete.
“Today’s report is by no means a conclusion of the committee’s work,” Lawrence, a Republican, said in a statement. “The investigation into the historic crime and violence in Philadelphia and recommendations for possible solutions will continue in earnest over the coming weeks.”
The committee cited a number of statistics showing dramatic rises in various crimes in recent years, such as a 93% rise in fatal shootings from 2015 to 2020 and a record number of carjackings this year that recently reached 1,000.
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Krasner, who has been in office since 2018, has claimed that it is illogical to blame a district attorney for crimes committed, but the report did not simply blame him for the acts of criminals.
“[M]ost troubling to the Select Committee is what happens after arrests are made — the DAO’s prosecution, or lack thereof,” the report said, noting that so far this year 65% of violent offenses (homicides, non-fatal shootings, rapes, robberies, and assaults) were either withdrawn by Krasner’s office or dismissed by the court. In contrast, that number was 48% in 2016.
The report discussed how former assistant district attorneys in Krasner’s office said that his policies “created an environment in which ADAs struggled to perform their job duties—both due to the lack of any meaningful training and the immediate and continued elimination of institutional knowledge,” and that data the committee analyzed supported this claim.
In addition to the rising percentage of offenses that were dismissed or withdrawn, the report cited a decrease in guilty dispositions – in 2020, just 66% of cases resulted in guilty dispositions, down from 88% in 2015.
Declinations of arrests also increased significantly when Krasner took office. The report said that according to a study by the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center that examined declinations of narcotics, retail theft, and prostitution arrests from 2016 to 2018, there was a rise in the percentage of declinations of arrest in all cases “especially in 2018,” Krasner’s first year.
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“No doubt, Philadelphia criminals are emboldened by the knowledge that (a) the likelihood that they will be arrested is slim, and (b) once caught, the likelihood that they will be prosecuted and incarcerated is minimal,” the report said.
The committee had sought records from Krasner’s office for their investigation, and after he failed to comply with a subpoena, the state House held him in contempt. The report noted that Krasner then began turning over some documents.
Krasner has slammed the committee for making inappropriate requests, such as for secret grand jury records that he said he cannot legally give them.
At the committee’s request, Krasner submitted a written statement in which he accused the committee of having already decided to recommend his impeachment, despite not providing evidence of proper grounds for impeachment.
He also accused the committee of targeting him, as they are only focusing on his county and not others in Pennsylvania that he said have experienced sharper rises in crime.
“Indeed, homicides and violent crimes have increased all over the United States, in jurisdictions that have elected both traditional prosecutors and reform prosecutors,” he wrote.
Following the report’s release, Krasner’s office said it “fails to establish a connection between reported crime incidents and Krasner’s policies because one doesn’t exist,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.