Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Undermining Voters Targeting Philly Da Is a Dangerous Precedent

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Undermining Voters Targeting Philly Da Is a Dangerous Precedent

Article excerpt

The following CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION appeared on August 26, 2019 State House Bill 1614 gives the state attorney general "concurrent jurisdiction" on certain firearm offenses in Philadelphia. An editorial Thursday incorrectly indicated it had a broader purpose.

Politics is partly about hashing out differences - differences in policy, differences in opinion, differences in worldview.

But lawmakers shouldn't respond to these differences with underhanded tactics that emasculate voters.

That is exactly what happened with the passage of state legislation that singled out and punished Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Since taking office in 2018, Mr. Krasner has placed himself at the forefront of criminal justice reform with an overarching goal of significantly reducing incarceration. His agenda - which includes easing bail requirements and no longer pursuing criminal charges for marijuana possession - has been widely applauded by progressive advocates. Those in law enforcement have been less enthusiastic, taking out billboards to criticize Mr. Krasner and his policies.

Particularly controversial has been Mr. Krasner's decision to send more gun-possession cases through a court diversion program. Mr. Krasner has argued that this strategy will avoid overly punishing a "small category" of people with otherwise clean records. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, meanwhile, has implied that Mr. Krasner's strategy has sent the wrong message - one of leniency - to would-be criminals.

And so as state lawmakers were debating HB 1614, a $2 million appropriation for the gun violence task force run jointly by Mr. Krasner and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, state Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia, slipped a provision into the bill that gave Mr. Shapiro "concurrent jurisdiction" over certain firearm offenses in Philadelphia. …

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