The Lead

Panel investigating crime in Philly puts blame on DA Krasner for lack of prosecutions

By: - October 24, 2022 3:30 pm

Rep. John Lawrence, R-Chester, speaks after a hearing of the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order on Sept. 29, 2022, in Philadelphia.

(*This story was updated at 5:52 p.m. on Monday, 10/25/22 to include additional comment from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office)

The House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order voted Monday to present an interim report to the full chamber on its investigation of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and crime in Philadelphia.

A final report with recommendations to the House is expected before the end of the session next month.

The report decries Krasner’s refusal to cooperate and puts out some findings of the committee such as former assistant district attorneys calling Krasner’s administration “toxic” and complaining that prosecutors have lost their voices in the courtroom.

The Republican-led committee heard testimony from two former ADAs who said the office’s policies result in preferential treatment of undocumented immigrants to avoid adverse immigration consequences and, as a result, harm the communities most affected by crime.

*Krasner’s office released a statement late Monday that said the testimony of the former ADAs appears to have been solicited through a website created by House Republicans and that sworn depositions scheduled with five current ADAs were abruptly canceled by the committee.

The report, released after Krasner held a press conference on the state Capitol steps on Friday decrying the investigation as politically motivated, also lists crime statistics including nearly 1,000 people murdered since January 2021 and 61.5 percent of fatal shootings in which no one is arrested.

It also states 65 percent of violent offense prosecutions and up to 20 percent of firearms charges are withdrawn or dismissed. 

“What’s the result of that? You have more folks who unfortunately have perpetrated crimes back on the streets to do the same thing again,” Select Committee Chairperson John Lawrence, R-Chester, said.

Krasner’s office said in the statement that the report mixes up year-end date with year-to-date data resulting in incorrect conclusions and analysis. He said it also fails to establish a connection between crime incidents and Krasner’s policies, noting that the number of incidents since Krasner took office in 2018 are below those between 2012 and 2015.

His office also faulted the report for failing to dig into the city’s low clearance rate for homicide and non-fatal shooting investigations and notes that the conviction rate for those that are solved in close to 90 percent. 

Lawrence said the reason for the report now is the committee’s findings need to be “put before policymakers not just in this building, but in other buildings, including City Hall in Philadelphia.”

While Lawrence said the committee is looking at causes in other city agencies, such as understaffing in the police department, Krasner has 100 percent control over what gets prosecuted.

He rejected Krasner’s assertion that there is a statewide rise in crime, noting that while rural Adams County has seen a 300 percent rise in homicides since 2019, in real numbers it’s an increase from one to four murders.

“Any attempt to make that correlation is utterly ridiculous,” Lawrence said. 

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.