PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is flipping the script. He is on a mission to reform the way Philadelphia dispenses justice and that has won him loyal supporters and fierce critics.
Since taking office in January Krasner has hit the ground running, staying true to his platform of ending mass incarceration, bringing back balance to prison sentencing and overall criminal justice reform.
CBS3 sat down with Krasner at his office as he gave us a gauge on where things stand, just three months into the job.
“We have seen significant gains in a declining population in the jails, we are trying not to charge cases that are truly stupid, we’re trying to charge the one’s that really matter and focus on violent crime,” said Krasner.
He touts early progress.
“We’re blessed that crime is reducing so when people look at the reduction in incarceration they can see that it doesn’t necessarily result in a spike in crime,” said Krasner.
Krasner has been in the spotlight recently as the media blitz surrounding rapper Meek Mill’s arrest on parole violations from a decade old case, lead to a 2 to 4 year prison sentence for the Philly native. He was released on bail after five months this week, and Meek Mill’s case has lead to national calls for criminal justice reform.
Because Mill’s case is pending, Krasner couldn’t get into specifics but he did outline what could be next steps in the case.
“If the judge does decide to reverse the conviction then this office would have to decide where we go from there, do we go towards dropping the case, do we go towards retrying the case, or do we go towards resolving the case without a trial,” said Kraser.
While those questions linger, Krasner was very vocal about a recent Columbia University study that shows Pennsylvania has the highest parole rate in the United States with nearly 300,000 people in some type of parole situation.
“Philadelphia being the most incarcerated of the 10 largest cities until very recently…we’re just not normal, our standards of incarceration and supervision of people who have been in custody are just over the top,” Kraser said.
Krasner’s work on criminal justice reform in Philadelphia is just beginning. When asked what he sees as true reform…
“What I hope comes out of criminal justice reform whether I’m DA or not is that we’re not the most incarcerated country in the world,” he says.