Philly DA says it’s not his fault violence is getting worse

Larry Krasner is District Attorney of Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Larry Krasner is District Attorney of Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia’s District Attorney says he’s not to blame for a rise in shooting deaths.

On Monday Police Commissioner Richard Ross said criminal justice reforms in the city could be to blame for a rise in shooting deaths. Ross did not mention D.A. Larry Krasner by name.

“I am concerned right now nationally and locally we are so mired in this notion to being politically correct particularly things about reform. People who otherwise know better, I hear it when I walk the neighborhoods, things need to change,  we need to be far tougher on crime than people are talking about. It is not the narrative right now, it is not what is talked about,” Ross said.

Ross went on to say even those arrested don’t fear the consequences, noting gun arrests are way up but shootings are not less frequent.

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Krasner counters that his office has declined to prosecute fewer gun cases than his two predecessors did. He says his predecessor chose not to pursue 3% of gun arrests, but his team decided against prosecuting 2% of gun arrests.

“We bring pretty much anything. When there are facts or law that will support bringing charges of illegal possession of a gun we are there.”

Krasner says his reform approach focuses on nonviolent offenders, such as those arrested for drug possession, not those accused of shootings.

“When the case is not serious there are cases we will decline [to prosecute],” he said. “For example our refusal for bringing charges for the criminal possession of marijuana, but when it comes to it’s one of the areas where we really bore down and we are prosecuting more than the prior administration.”

Krasner says systemic solutions are the way to cut violence, and they aren’t going to be fast, but he has some new plans on the horizon.

One possible solution he says is grouping homicide prosecutions with gun cases, and using more secure courtrooms so victims feel safer testifying.

He says that depends on the court system and if there is available space to move to a different room.

Krasner agrees with Theron Pride, senior director of violence prevention strategies and programs for the Kenney administration who points to a five year plan to cut the violence in Philadelphia.

“As much as we want to solve this problem tomorrow, we know it’s going to take time, an investment of resources, and a coordinated effort and commitment.  We are like everyone else in Philadelphia just dissatisfied and disappointed and reeling from the violence that we see on a far too consistent basis including this weekend,” Pride said.

Krasner says his reforms are giving youth a chance to get a job, instead of having a criminal record for a minor offense keep them from employment.

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