August 31, 2019
The number of children charged as adults in Philadelphia dropped substantially in the first year of Larry Krasner's time as the city's district attorney.
Data from criminal dockets reviewed by The Appeal show that, in 2016 and 2017, 254 children were charged as adults, or 127 per year. In 2018, Krasner's first full year in office, fewer than 50 children were charged as adults.
Adult court charges against 15-year-olds dropped by 80% in 2018, according to The Appeal, while adult court charges against 17-year-olds dropped by 50%, and adult court charges against 16-year-olds dropped by more than 65%.
According to the Juvenile Law Center, a non-profit, public interest law firm, children prosecuted as adults face a higher risk of sexual abuse, physical assault, and suicide; and children tried as adults are often compromised when attempting to re-enter their communities.
In Philadelphia, Krasner has attempted to reform sentencing practices at all levels, from charging fewer children to handing out fewer prison sentences in general. The city's jail population was down, in conjunction with grants from the MacArthur Foundation, to less than 5,000 in 2018.
Krasner has been both praised and chided for his progressive approach to the district attorney job. He's actively pushed for criminal justice reform, eliminating cash bail and striving to free wrongfully accused prisoners, and he cleaned house in the District Attorney's Office after he was elected in 2017.
Some, though, feel Krasner has ignored his duty as the city's top prosecutor as he pursues his own agenda. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, for example, put up billboards earlier this year deriding Krasner's performance, and calling for a new district attorney.