When Larry Krasner assumed office as Philadelphia’s district attorney, he promised to change things.
Change they did, but not always in a good way. Since he took office homicides are up 50% and assaults by gun (shootings) have climbed by 54% since 2017. If the trend holds, Philadelphia will tally 473 homicides in 2020 – the highest count in 30 years when Philadelphia had 497 killings.
Why, then, is crime spiking under Krasner’s watch? Because Krasner isn’t holding offenders accountable.
An analysis by my group, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) found that Krasner is failing miserably at prosecuting felony offenses. Compared to his predecessor’s average conviction rates, Krasner dropped or lost 26% more of all felony cases. More robbery cases (+14%) and auto theft cases (+37%) were dropped or lost. In drug sales (not possession) cases, Krasner dismisses or loses 55% of cases compared to the 34% rate of his predecessor –a 65% increase.
And in Krasner’s first two years, Krasner dropped or lost 47% of all illegal firearms cases – a 42% higher rate than the last DA, Seth Williams, while getting convictions in 21% fewer cases. Studies have clearly shown that gun offenders are likely to go on to commit more and violent crime.
And that failure to keep criminals locked up had tragic consequences earlier this year when repeat offender, Hassan Elliot, killed Philadelphia police corporal James O’Connor.
Upon taking office Krasner released Elliot, earlier jailed for felony illegal gun possession. Later, Hasan violated parole when police caught him trying to sell cocaine, but Krasner released him anyway. That same day, Elliot killed a man. Months later, Elliot murdered O’Connor who trying to apprehend Elliot.
But Krasner is not alone as a progressive prosecutor presiding over rising crime while dropping or losing felony cases at a record rate.
In a survey of six jurisdictions where progressive district attorneys serve, every city or county logged a lower overall felony conviction rate as well as conviction rate for violent or serious crimes. On average, the profiled prosecutors dropped 20% more felony cases than their predecessors. Meanwhile, crime has risen dramatically.
In America’s big city murder capital Baltimore, homicides have increased 65% under prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s watch. Meanwhile, our report shows that Mosby drops of loses many more felony cases than her immediate predecessor who enjoyed a lower crime and murder rate. A felony defendant is 23% less likely to be convicted under Mosby. Felons-in-possession of a firearm are 46% less likely to be convicted. Even if they are, they serve less prison time now than before.
Independent analyses of other cities bears out our findings.
Progressive prosecutor, Kimberly Gardner in St. Louis, who charged the couple who brandished firearms at protesters, loses at trial or drops cases at an astounding rate. Trial conviction rates fell from 72% before to approximately 53% for Gardner. Gardner is even refusing to pursue charges in 38% of cases filed by police, only pressing charges in 23% of those filed. [The rest remain “pending.”}
Similarly, a Chicago Tribune investigation confirmed our earlier findings that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx outright dismissed 35% more felony cases – and rising with nearly 40% of felony cases dropped by Foxx in 2019. These offenses include serious and violent crimes like homicides, sex crimes, assaults by gun and attacks on police officers. Sadly, in the Windy City, Jussie Smollett isn’t the only one getting away with crime. Meanwhile, homicides and shootings are up 50% over last year as criminals go free.
It is with deep irony that many of these progressive prosecutors are given a megaphone by the media as righteous crusaders for justice when, in fact, they either cannot deliver or seek to deny justice to crime victims.
Elected prosecutors like Krasner have a duty to represent the interests of the public and secure their safety. Failing to successfully prosecute dangerous and violent offenders only begets more crime and further erodes trust in the justice system.
Larry Krasner and his fellow “progressive” prosecutors have proven derelict in their duty to public safety.
Jason C. Johnson is president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, which released its report, “Prosecutorial Malpractice,” on felony outcomes in July. He previously served as deputy commissioner of Baltimore’s police department from 2016 to 2018. Follow him on Twitter: @LELDF_President