PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia may no longer prosecute drug possession as a crime. In a new interview, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner told “Axios on HBO” that he is considering rolling out a policy that would send people caught with drugs into treatment, instead of prison.
The policy would be the first of its kind in the nation.
“Possession is different than dealing, it’s different than carrying a bunch of drugs you intend to sell or deliver later, it’s just possession. We are talking about people who are using drugs, the vast majority of them suffering from addiction. I do not see value in convicting people like that, thereby making it harder for them to get a job,” said Krasner. “It seems to me to make a lot more sense to hold them accountable in ways that do not require a conviction. We are very close.”
Krasner’s latest attempt to battle the drug crisis in the region has reignited the debate on decriminalization.
“I was not offered treatment,” said John Rocco. “I was just sent directly to prison.”
After prison, Rocco became a client of Northeast Treatment Centers. He’s now 13 years sober and a case manager at the 24/7 Spring Garden facility. He says when it comes to drug possession, jail is not always the answer.
“Maybe if I had known, it would’ve changed my life earlier,” said Rocco. “We come from the streets, we know what they’re going through.”
Not everyone who’s battled addiction, however, wants to decriminalize drug possession.
“I think that the harder drugs, which is the crisis right now, the opioid epidemic, I still feel there needs to be ramifications,” said Cheryl Kloepfer.
While Krasner’s office says the idea is still under discussion, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police says there are concerns.
“It’s not a good idea,” said John McNesby. “Small amounts of marijuana, fine, but once you start getting into the other scheduled drugs, it’s kind of a recipe for disaster.”
There’s no time frame for when the policy may be rolled out.
The City of Philadelphia does have a similar