Last August, Philadelphia police tried to serve a man named Maurice Hill with an arrest warrant for a drug charge. Hill had an extensive criminal history and was armed with an AK-47. As police moved in, he started firing, and by the time he surrendered, eight hours later, six officers had been wounded. U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain blamed the confrontation not on Hill, but on District Attorney Larry Krasner. McSwain said, “There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this city that is promoted and championed” by Krasner. It is the kind of accusation that Krasner, 59, has grown accustomed to hearing since he won election in 2017. The left-wing prosecutor has been called pro-criminal and anit-police and a stooge of liberal billionaire George Soros, says a report by The Trace and The New Republic. Actually, Hill had repeatedly been released after arrests because he had acted as an informant for McSwain’s predecessor.
Krasner doesn’t expect the attacks against him to stop. Unlike traditional prosecutors, he does not measure success by accumulating convictions and racking up lengthy prison sentences. He has promised to imprison fewer people for less time. He thinks that can drive down gun crime. Krasner says efforts to hold police accountable will restore trust in the law among long-marginalized communities plagued by gun violence — and that the resulting boost in public trust will lead to more cooperation with investigations. Of all the moves Krasner has made, diverting gun possession cases from prosecution has generated the most controversy. Criminologists and activists say Krasner’s approach, while unorthodox, is backed by social science. They argue that giving people who carry firearms a second chance may reduce gun violence by addressing the factors that lead to gun possession in the first place — pervasive cynicism about the justice system’s ability to keep people safe.