Washington Post Editorial: Impeachment of Philadelphia’s DA Misguided and Bad Precedent

Larry Krasner from a Forum in May

By Kevin Barragan and Michael McCutcheon

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner has been impeached by the GOP-partisan Pennsylvania House 107-85 and a trial on the Senate side could eventually lead to his removal from office. 

Although there is real concern for his approach toward law enforcement, the outcome of his removal would only set concerning precedents, according to the Washington Post Editorial Board.

“(T)he effort to oust him is misguided, an affront to local control and democratic choice. If successful, the recall would set a dangerous precedent,” declared the Post Editorial.

Krasner was elected in 2017 and was known for being a top prosecutor. The Post noted his policies of reducing sentences for minor drug offenses and progressive prosecution are supported by the African American community.

But the Post Editorial Board added the murder rate has risen in Philadelphia, fueling criticism against Krasner. Despite Krasner declaring there was no crisis, former Mayor Michael Nutter, who is Black, heavily criticized Krasner as speaking from white privilege, noted the Post.  

“All of this is something for the Philadelphia voters who elected Mr. Krasner to judge. Instead, despite the fact that he has committed no crime or misconduct, the state legislature has stepped in,” said the Post. 

In Pennsylvania, only two judges have ever been impeached in the 235-year history of cases and, noted the Post, until this move against Krasner, it appeared as though prosecutors were immune to impeachment—even in cases where they had committed crimes impeachment did not occur, as was the case with a predecessor of Krasner who was indicted on corruption charges.

The Post said Krasner is a unique brand of prosecutor because, rather than punishing offenders with long sentences, he elects to divert offenders out of the criminal justice system and toward rehabilitation, reserving prosecution for more serious crimes.

Law enforcement officials and conservatives, the Post observes, have blamed the corresponding policies, such as refusing to try juveniles as adults and no cash bail, for the increase of violent crime since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. However, many disagree with this conclusion, as several studies show a decrease in homicide rates in correlation with progressive policies.

“It is too soon to conclude that there is a linkage between progressive reforms and spikes in crime. Some communities with more traditional prosecutors have seen a rise in violent crime, and one study found that homicides rose by lower amounts in places with progressive ones in place,” the Post wrote.

However, the authors added “other studies have reached similar conclusions. It’s noteworthy that in the recent midterms,progressive prosecutors still managed to prevail in both red and blue states — even as Republicans sought to double down on crime as an issue.”

The Post Editorial Board added, “The election of prosecutors is premised on the principle that voters should have the power to set the criminal justice agenda they think is best suited for their communities. Voters, right or wrong, have twice chosen Mr. Krasner. 

“That lawmakers in Harrisburg want to substitute their views not only subverts the will of the voters but also potentially makes any local elected official a political target.”

About The Author

Kevin Barragan is a first-generation senior at California State University, Los Angeles majoring in political science with an emphasis in prelegal studies and minoring in criminal justice. He plans to attend law school after undergrad in hopes to pursue a law career in advocating for social and civil rights.

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