* Was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia in 2017
* His campaign for DA received enormous financial support from George Soros.
* As a civil rights attorney, he filed more than 75 lawsuits accusing police of corruption & abuse.
* Seeks alternatives to prosecution & incarceration
* Crime in Philadelphia rose dramatically after his election as DA.
* Supports sanctuary cities and policies
* Said he would not prosecute people arrested for violent rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020
Larry Krasner was born on March 30, 1961 in St. Louis, Missouri. His father, William Krasner, was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants and was an author of mystery and crime-fiction novels. Larry’s mother, Juanita Frazier, was an evangelical Christian minister. The Krasner family moved to the Philadelphia area while Larry was still attending public school.
Krasner graduated from the University of Chicago in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature. Four years later, he earned a J.D. degree from Stanford Law School.
After passing the bar exam, Krasner returned to Philadelphia to work as a public defender. In 1993 he founded his own law firm specializing in criminal defense and civil rights. Over the next 25 years, he tried thousands of cases in criminal and civil court, and he filed more than 75 civil rights lawsuits accusing police officers of corruption and physical abuse.
Krasner’s clients over the years have included members of such organizations as Black Lives Matter, Occupy Philly, ACT-UP, Heeding God’s Call, Casino-Free Philadelphia, Reclaim Philadelphia, Earth Quaker Action Team, and Grannies for Peace. He also has represented activists engaged in opposing capital punishment and promoting the DREAM Act, legislation that would grant legal status to potentially millions of children and young adults who first arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.
In June 2017, Krasner was a featured speaker at the second annual People’s Summit in Chicago. With an attendance count that exceeded 4,000, this conference was headlined by Senator Bernie Sanders and was co-sponsored by such organizations as People for Bernie, National Nurses United, and Our Revolution. The theme for the summit was “Beyond Resistance: A People’s Movement for a Just World.” Other guest speakers besides Krasner and Sanders included such notables as National Nurses United executive director RoseAnn DeMoro, anti-capitalism activist Naomi Klein, Our Revolution president Nina Turner, filmmaker Michael Moore, anti-Semitic socialist Linda Sarsour, former Bernie Sanders delegate Christine Pellegrino, and the newly elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
In June 2017, Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams — who had previously announced that he would not seek re-election in light of revelations that he had illegally accepted $160,500 in undisclosed gifts designed to buy his political influence — resigned from office and pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges. Williams’ interim replacement, Kathleen Martin, said she would serve out the remainder of Williams’ term but had no intention of running for election thereafter.
Krasner, meanwhile, had been quietly laying the financial groundwork for his own run for the Philadelphia D.A. seat. Indeed, a few weeks earlier, on April 28, the multibillionaire leftwing philanthropist George Soros had donated $1.45 million to Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety (PJPS), a super PAC that was established for the sole purpose of backing Krasner for D.A. Specifically, PJPS paid for activists to canvass various Philadelphia neighborhoods and campaign on Krasner’s behalf; it also financed the production of television commercials and other advertisements supporting Krasner for District Attorney. Then, on May 23, Soros gave yet another $214,000 to PJPS, bringing his total contributions for Krasner’s campaign to nearly $1.7 million – an exceptionally large sum of money for a District Attorney race. Moreover, Soros’ donations marked the first time that a PAC had ever supported a candidate for D.A. in Philadelphia.
Further, Soros contributed an additional $444,000 to Krasner’s campaign by way of a second PAC, Pennsylvania Justice and Public Safety.
In addition to Soros’ indispensable support, Krasner’s campaign received the endorsements and backing of such organizations as Democracy for America, Our Revolution, Color of Change PAC, The BLOC Party, and the Democratic Socialists of America.
Running as a Democrat, Krasner stated that his top priority as District Attorney “will be ending mass incarceration in Philadelphia.” Said his campaign website: “The cost of imprisoning one person for a year pays the salary of a young public school teacher, social worker, or police officer engaging in appropriate community policing. Resources could instead be invested in job training and addiction treatment. Mass incarceration simply won’t heal our torn social fabric, and does not make us safer.”
Another priority, said Krasner’s campaign website, would be to abolish the use of capital punishment in Philadelphia: “As District Attorney, Larry Krasner will exercise his lawful discretion not to pursue death sentences. Capital punishment is an expensive fraud that undermines public safety. Since its reinstatement by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 it has cost Pennsylvania taxpayers over $1 billion that could have been spent on teachers, social workers, police, and addiction and job programs that make us safe.”
Krasner also resolved to treat drug addiction “as a disease, not a crime.” As his campaign website put it: “Punishing addicts does not make us safer, because our criminal justice system is not equipped to treat addiction. Acknowledging that addiction is a public health issue—and acting accordingly—supports addicts’ recoveries and rebuilds their communities.”
Because Philadelphia’s population consisted of nearly seven times as many registered Democrats as registered Republicans, Krasner’s win in the primary assured him of victory in the November 7, 2017 general election, where he garnered almost three times as many votes (150,330) as his Republican opponent, former assistant district attorney Beth Grossman (50,858).
At his election night victory party on November 7, 2017, Krasner’s supporters chanted: “Fuck the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police]” and “No good cops in a racist system!” Making no effort to persuade those backers to tone down their rhetoric, Krasner smiled approvingly at them.
Krasner was sworn in as Philadelphia D.A. on January 1, 2018. Soon thereafter, he issued a non-prosecution policy memo to the attorneys in his office, mandating that criminal prosecutions for various offenses should be either minimized or abolished altogether. Some excerpts taken verbatim from the memo:
Decline Certain Charges
- Do not charge possession of marijuana (cannabis) regardless of weight.
- Do not charge any of the offenses relating to paraphernalia or buying from a person (BFP) where the drug involved is marijuana.
- Do not charge prostitution cases against sex workers where a person who has been arrested has two, one or no prostitution convictions.
- Withdraw all pending cases in these categories that would be declined for charging under this policy.
Charge Lower Gradations for Certain Offenses
- Charge and dispose of Retail Theft cases as summary offenses unless the value of the item(s) stolen in a particular case exceeds $500.00 or where the defendant has a very long history of theft and retail theft convictions.
- You must seek supervisory approval to charge and dispose of retail theft cases at misdemeanor or felony levels.
- All attorneys are directed to approach diversion [alternatives to criminal prosecution and incarceration] and re-entry with greater flexibility and an eye toward achieving accountability and justice while avoiding convictions where appropriate.
At Sentencing, State on the Record the Benefits and Costs of the Sentence You Are Recommending
- The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. It has increased 500% over a few decades. Pennsylvania and Philadelphia have been incarcerating at an even higher rate than comparable U.S. states and cities for decades — a 700% increase over the same few decades in Pennsylvania; and Philadelphia in recent years has been the most incarcerated of the 10 largest cities. Yet Pennsylvania and Philadelphia are not safer as a result, due to wasting resources in corrections rather than investing in other measures that reduce crime. […] Over-incarceration also tears the fabric of defendants’ familial and work relationships that tend to rehabilitate defendants who are open to rehabilitation and thereby prevent crime. […] Ultimately, the highest goal of sentencing must be to seek justice for society as a whole […] The cost of one year of unnecessary incarceration (at $42,000.00 – $60,000.00) is in the range of the cost of one year’s salary for a beginning teacher, police officer, fire fighter, social worker, Assistant District Attorney, or addiction counselor.
Request Shorter Probation Tails (i.e., Consecutive Period of Probation) or No Probation Tail After a Sentence of Incarceration
- Criminological studies show that most violations of probation occur within the first 12 months. Assuming that a defendant is violation-free for 12 months, any remaining probation is simply excess baggage requiring unnecessary expenditure of funds for supervision.
Request Shorter Probationary Sentences Where No Sentence of Incarceration Is Sought
- Criminological studies confirm that longer probationary periods often result in more failures than shorter ones where those studies have controlled for offense and criminal record.
Request No More Than a 6-Month VOP [Violation of Probation] Sentence for a Technical Violation without Supervisory Approval
- In many technical violation cases, no additional incarceration should be sought and no revocation is necessary. However, where the technical violation(s) calls for a more serious consequence, do not seek more than 6-12 months’ incarceration unless you have approval from the District Attorney via your supervisor.
Request That There Be No Violation of Probation or Parole Due to a Positive Drug Test for Use of Marijuana (Cannabis) or Due to Possession of Cannabis without Supervisory Approval
As a result of Krasner’s new guidelines, it became commonplace for the Philadelphia D.A. office to drop criminal charges against even the most dangerous defendants. Between January and September of 2020, for example, Krasner’s office dropped charges on more than 60% of all shooting cases in the city, as well as 37% of illegal firearms cases.
It also became much more common for criminal defendants to escape conviction after being indicted. In 2017, the year before Krasner was elected D.A., 63% of all suspects arrested for illegal gun possession in Philadelphia were ultimately convicted. But by 2021 – Krasner’s fourth year in office – that figure had dwindled to just 49%. Meanwhile, Krasner boasted on his website that, by dropping criminal prosecutions, shaving time off of jail sentences, and pursuing alternatives to prison, he had cut total incarceration in Philadelphia by a combined 24,800 years; had cut supervision by a combined 102,400 years; had never once sought to impose the death penalty on anyone; and had helped exonerate no fewer than 23 defendants. At the same time, the number of homicide victims in Philadelphia reached the stratospheric levels of 499 in 2020 and a record 559 in 2021.
After being elected in 2017, Krasner created in his District Attorney’s office the position of Immigration Counsel (IC), whose duty, he explained in January 2018, would be to ensure that “[i]n cases that are not that serious, but have very serious immigration consequences [i.e., deportation], [defendants] will be offered the opportunity to address their case on a similar, equally serious but not identical charge.” In many instances, this would enable the defendants to avoid deportation.
To fill this new IC position, Krasner hired former immigration attorney Caleb Arnold, who in 2018 told a local news outlet that in his role as IC, he would not consider any cases whatsoever wherein illegal immigrants had been charged with high-level offenses like homicide or rape. In his first year as IC, Arnold consulted on approximately 300 cases and recommended changing plea deals in 120 of them. But contrary to his aforementioned pledge, a significant number of those 120 cases involved criminal charges that were in fact quite serious. According to a case list obtained through a public records request by the Immigration Reform Law Institute, Arnold consulted on many cases where illegal aliens were accused of offenses like rape, rape of a child, forcible rape, sex assault, strangulation, arson, and murder.
From the start of Krasner’s tenure as District Attorney, he has endorsed the so-called sanctuary policies that many large cities (and some small towns) have adopted to protect illegal aliens from federal law-enforcement authorities.
Soon after being sworn in as District Attorney, Krasner assigned one of his top lieutenants to fire 31 career prosecutors from his office — including many highly experienced members of the D.A.’s homicide division — who did not, in Krasner’s view, exhibit sufficient enthusiasm for the new District Attorney’s radical approach to criminal justice. They were given mere hours to gather their belongings and permanently clear out their desks.
Moreover, many other prosecutors in Krasner’s office eventually left of their own volition because they objected so vehemently to Krasner’s policies. By December 2021, as Krasner’s first four-year term drew to a close, a total of 261 attorneys in his office had departed. The office at that time employed approximately 340 lawyers and had been hiring aggressively to offset the 261 losses, but the result was a large measure of chaos coupled with a lack of continuity and cohesion.
In 2020, Krasner used the COVID-19 pandemic as further justification for instructing the Philadelphia Police Department to cut back on its arrests of low-level and nonviolent criminal offenders – on the premise that each new arrest could potentially exacerbate overcrowding in police stations, courtrooms, and prisons, thereby increasing the possibility that COVID could be spread in such places.
On March 13, 2020, Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor, a 23-year veteran of the Department, attempted to carry out an arrest warrant and was killed in the process by 22-year-old Hassan Elliott, a black parole violator, career criminal, and wanted murderer. Three days later, the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, William McSwain, issued a press statement saying that O’Connor’s murder “was the direct result of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies.” Some excerpts from McSwain’s statement:
“Hassan Elliott … is known by law enforcement because of his longtime involvement with a violent gang called ‘1700’ that blights the area of 1700 Brill Street and 1700 Scattergood Street. This gang is alleged to be responsible for many shootings in the area and is brazen about their access to firearms. […]
“On June 8, 2017, Elliott was arrested on firearms charges, stemming from an incident in which he threatened a neighborhood resident with a gun. On January 24, 2018, he entered into a negotiated plea: Krasner’s office offered, and Elliott accepted, a below-guidelines sentence of 9 to 23 months’ incarceration, followed by 3 years of reporting probation. Elliott was paroled on January 25, 2018, the day after his plea; he spent a total of 7 months and 16 days incarcerated for this offense.
“Following his release, the Philadelphia Probation and Parole Department categorized Elliott as a ‘high risk’ offender, and placed him under the supervision of the Anti-Violence High Risk Unit. Protocol in this unit requires weekly visits and regular urinalyses. Elliott violated his parole almost immediately by failing numerous drug tests, and also by repeatedly failing to report to his parole officer. Eventually, the court scheduled a violation hearing for February 6, 2019.
“Prior to that hearing, however, on January 29, 2019, Elliott was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. […] This arrest was in direct violation of Elliott’s parole, but the District Attorney’s Office did not pursue a detainer against him or make any attempt to have Elliott taken into custody for this serious violation. The office allowed Elliott to be released on his own recognizance – no bail was set. This is stunning, considering that Elliott was on parole for his 2018 firearms conviction. […]
“In February 2019, soon after his cocaine arrest, the Philadelphia Police Department identified Elliott as an ‘Operation Pinpoint’ target offender. Operation Pinpoint is a data-driven crime fighting strategy that targets the worst violent offenders in the City. […] Krasner’s office still did nothing in response to Elliott’s violation of his parole through his cocaine arrest.
“On March 1, 2019, Elliott attended a pre-trial status listing for his cocaine case, where he received and signed a subpoena for the trial, which was scheduled for March 27, 2019. […] [A]fter leaving his pre-trial status listing, he allegedly murdered Tyree Tyrone on the 5300 block of Duffield Street. Elliott and another man, both armed with handguns, approached Tyrone, who was sitting in his car, and allegedly opened fire at close range. Video showed Elliott fleeing the scene and his fingerprints were found on one of the alleged murder weapons.
“On March 26, 2019, the District Attorney’s Office procured a warrant for Elliott’s arrest for the Tyrone murder. The next day, March 27, Elliott was scheduled to go on trial in the cocaine case. On that day, March 27, which was the first trial listing in the case, Elliott failed to appear. Despite his absence, and the outstanding murder warrant, the District Attorney’s Office withdrew the cocaine case against Elliott, citing prosecutorial discretion. Elliott then remained at-large until the murder of Corporal O’Connor. […]
“Krasner has infected the District Attorney’s Office with a sickness that has deadly consequences for the entire City. Enough is enough. This madness must stop.”
On the night of O’Connor’s death, Philadelphia police officers — disgusted by the Krasner policies that had led directly to the tragedy of March 13 — formed a human chain at the entrance of Temple University Hospital, where the dying O’Connor had been taken after being shot, to prevent Krasner from entering the building.
In September 2020, Krasner announced that he would not prosecute people arrested for the violent rioting, looting, and arson that had rocked Philadelphia and other cities since the infamous May 25, 2020 death of a black criminal named George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. “Prosecution alone,” explained Krasner, “will achieve nothing close to justice—not when power imbalances and lack of accountability make it possible for government actors including police or prosecutors to regularly take life or liberty unjustly and face no criminal or career penalty.”
In 2020 as well, Krasner’s charging unit supervisor, Lyandra Retacco, referred approximately 80% of all cases related to the post-George Floyd riots — in which more than 1,000 businesses citywide were damaged or destroyed — to a new program called Civil Unrest Restorative Response (CURP), which sought alternatives to prosecution for the defendants. Real Justice PAC, a political action committee co-founded by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, praised Krasner for having developed such a “groundbreaking program” by which to “uplift communities instead of criminalizing them.” Krasner, for his part, characterized CURP as the type of creative response that was warranted in light of the fact that the riots of 2020 constituted nothing less than “an outcry” by an oppressed people seeking justice during a historic moment of protest in America.
From the very start of Krasner’s tenure as District Attorney, his soft-on-crime policies became linked to rapidly and dramatically rising crime rates in Philadelphia. Some examples:
In July 2020, when President Donald Trump was contemplating the possibility of dispatching federal law-enforcement officers to quell the violence that was overrunning so many American cities, Krasner likened such officers to Nazis and announced that he was prepared to have them arrested if they came to Philadelphia. Said Krasner in a statement on July 20: “My dad volunteered and served in World War II to fight fascism, like most of my uncles, so we would not have an American president brutalizing and kidnapping Americans for exercising their constitutional rights and trying to make America a better place, which is what patriots do. Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office. At trial, they will face a Philadelphia jury. It’s the least we can do to honor those who fought fascism, including those who are fighting it even now.”
In an interview published by Bloomberg CityLab on July 22, 2020, Krasner, continuing to bray at the prospect of Trump sending federal personnel to Philadelphia, denounced “the apparently illegal stormtrooper tactics that have been used by federal law enforcement in Portland,” where violent riots had been terrorizing city residents every night for weeks on end. “We’re dealing with a shiny object that the president is waving around to distract from his outrageous failures in many other areas,” Krasner claimed. “And to try to use his usual tactics of neo-fascist division, hate, and racism to improve his almost deceased [re-election] campaign.” Added Krasner: “We’re not going to tolerate any kidnappings and assaults [by federal law-enforcement] going on in Philadelphia streets. We’re not going to tolerate showing up under the guise of making things safer and [instead] causing violence.” Krasner also asserted that Trump was “perfectly willing to act like Putin” or “some historical Argentinian dictator,” and that “[h]e wants to be a strong man who is somehow going to use his singular force and not let any law or constitution get in the way to get what he wants.”
The United States Attorney in Philadelphia, William McSwain, observed in 2020 that Krasner “is not even pretending to be a prosecutor. He calls himself a public defender with power. It’s almost like letting a fox into the hen house. Once he’s in, he’s trying to cause as much havoc as possible.”
When running for re-election in 2021, Krasner faced Carlos Vega, who was among the numerous Philadelphia D.A. Office prosecutors whom Krasner had fired, in the Democratic primary. The Philadelphia Police Department was strongly supporting Vega – so much so, that the police union exhorted its non-Democrat members to switch their party affiliation to the Democratic Party so that they would be eligible to vote for Vega in the primary.
Their efforts went for naught, however, as Krasner won the primary on May 18, 2021, defeating Vega by a margin of 66.8% to 33.1%. He then beat Republican challenger Chuck Peruto in the November general election by a margin of 69.1% to 30.9%.
In December 2021, a reporter asked Krasner to comment on the steep rise in violent crime that Philadelphia had experienced during his time as District Attorney. Krasner replied sharply: “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence, and that is a category that includes gun violence. It’s important that we don’t let this become mushy and bleed into the notion that there is some kind of big spike in crime.”
Those comments infuriated many Philadelphians of all political persuasions, including the city’s black Democrat mayor, Michael Nutter, who condemned Krasner for his insensitivity regarding the criminal violence that had brought so much pain to the residents of his city. Said Nutter: “It all goes back to supremacy, paternalism. ‘I’m woke. I’m paying attention. I spend a lot of time with Black people. Some of my best friends …’ All that bullshit. And so you get a guy like Larry Krasner who is the great White hope and ‘I’m gonna ride in on a white horse with a white hat.’”
On January 19, 2022, Jake Corman, the Republican President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania State Senate who was now running for Governor, exhorted state leaders to begin impeachment proceedings against Krasner because of the “culture of violence and death” he had “created” in Philadelphia.
A late-night altercation between a small group of men in Philadelphia on June 4, 2022, resulted in a gunman killing three people (including two innocent bystanders) and wounding 11 others. The following day, Krasner took to social media and denounced the National Rifle Association. “The terrible crimes last night on South Street tell our Pennsylvania legislators it’s time for real action,” he said. “Boycott NRA lobbyists, boycott NRA donations, and bring real common sense gun regulation to Pennsylvania. Now.”
But as TheBlaze.com noted, the real problem was Philadelphia’s failure to adequately punish the perpetrators of gun crimes and illegal weapons possession: “[T]he Philadelphia Inquirer discovered last year that Philadelphia police are setting records with the number of arrests for citizens illegally carrying firearms. But convictions for such crimes have fallen to extreme lows, and [Philadelphia police commissioner Danielle] Outlaw pointed out that conviction rates for individuals caught with illegal guns began dropping after Krasner became district attorney in 2018. ‘If there’s nothing to deter folks, if there’s no consequence where people believe, If I do this, this is going to happen, [then] there’s no incentive to not carry a gun illegally, quite frankly,’ Outlaw said last year.”
The Democrat mayor of Philadelphia, James Kenney, put it similarly after the June 4th shooting: “It’s gotten to the point where there’s no price to pay for carrying illegal guns, so people carry them because they don’t think anything is going to happen.” The mayor’s remarks were wholly consistent with what the Philadelphia DA office itself had candidly and proudly declared: “We do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings.”
On July 23, 2022, JustTheNews.com reported:
“Under Krasner, the number of murders in Philadelphia soared from 353 in 2018 to 562 in 2021, the deadliest year in the city’s history.
“This year, homicide totals are tracking closely with last year’s record-breaking figure. Additionally, violent crime in Philadelphia has risen by 8% and property crime has risen by 30%, compared to 2021, according to crime data from the Philadelphia Police Department reviewed by the Epoch Times.
“In response to the violence, the city’s political leaders have established a 10 p.m. curfew for kids under the age of 18, although police aren’t allowed to fine juveniles out past curfew. Instead, officers must make ‘every reasonable effort’ to take them home, according to the mandate.
“During his tenure, Krasner has cut the future years of incarceration by half and slashed the length of parole in probation supervision by nearly two-thirds compared to the previous DA. He has also made a priority of not prosecuting people who are illegally in possession of guns unless they hurt or kill people.”
Meet Larry Krasner, the Rogue Prosecutor Wreaking Havoc in Philadelphia
By Charles “Cully” Stimson and Zack Smith
October 29, 2020