Republican state lawmakers in Pennsylvania are initiating the impeachment of Philadelphia's District Attorney Larry Krasner amid a spike in the city's "unchecked violent crime."
"We did not arrive at this decision lightly or easily. In fact, we are taking this action after we have taken significant steps to pass legislation that addresses violent crime in Philadelphia by ensuring our current laws are enforced," Republican state Rep. Josh Kail said in a press release announcing the action Monday. "We are starting this process now because the unchecked violent crime in Philadelphia has reached a breaking point due to the willful refusal by District Attorney Krasner to enforce existing laws."
Kail and two other GOP colleagues — state Reps. Torren Ecker and Tim O'Neal — are circulating articles of impeachment against Krasner, looking for co-sponsors to formally try to oust the Democrat, who has served in the office since 2018, vowing to end the "tough-on-crime" policies of the past.
"Our criminal justice system gives prosecutors enormous discretion, so it's crucial we exercise that discretion wisely and compassionately," Krasner said on the official DA website. "In our country's criminal justice system, prosecutors wield tremendous power and discretion. This Office's leadership is committed to ensuring everyone in this office exercises this enormous power responsibly and compassionately."
Ecker said that Krasner's prosecution policies were a "dereliction of duty" and his refusal to enforce existing laws are putting city residents and visitors at risk.
"Unfortunately for the people of Philadelphia, and the people of Pennsylvania at large, the problem of violent crime in Philadelphia has reached a point that demands this action be taken," he said. "Taking this step today and undertaking this process continues what we have been doing and what we need to do to combat violence and crime here in Pennsylvania — ensure the laws already on the books are enforced."
According to Philadelphia Police, the city set a record with 562 homicides in 2021 and is currently on pace to come near that high again in 2022 with 227 homicides reported through Monday.
That number has increased each year since Krasner took office, from a low of 315 in 2017, according to the department's data.
"How do you respond to the criticism? Well, here's a couple facts," Krasner told television station CBS Local 3 Monday. "We are all obviously very concerned about public safety, and we should be, but the question is, Do you want to fix it, or do you want to go back in time to everything that got us here?"
According to that outlet's report, even if the vote were to impeach Krasner in the state House, a vote to convict and remove would likely fail in the state Senate.
"There would be an investigation and debate in the Pennsylvania House and then there would be a vote. And if by a majority vote they were to impeach him, it would then move over to the Senate where there would be a trial," Patrick Christmas with the Committee of Seventy, told the news outlet. "And the votes would not be there, as far as I could tell, to actually remove him from office if that is the real objective of this announcement."
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