It’s not nice to make fun of people, so I am not mocking, I am just deliciously tickled as District Attorney Larry Krasner gets bitten by the Left, his base of support.
Being pummeled by the Left is not unusual for district attorneys, because the Left generally is more interested in finding excuses for bad behavior than in punishing it. Former DA Lynne Abraham had liberal cleat marks all over her back even before she was called (by the New York Times) “the deadliest DA” because of her attraction to the death penalty.
That was not supposed to happen to reformer Krasner, hailed by many as the most progressive DA in America — even as the “most radical,” by the (left-wing) Nation magazine. Leading with what former President George H.W. Bush used to call “the vision thing,” Krasner presented an ideological grab bag that thrilled progressives — low or no bail, no civil forfeitures, deincarceration, shorter sentences, less prosecution.
All it took was a couple of cop killers to start turning Krasnerphilia into Krasnerphobia.
Here’s what we know for sure: Accused cop-killers Carlton Hipps and Ramone Williams accepted a plea bargain that gave them life in prison in exchange for — what?
As a candidate, Krasner pledged to never go for the death penalty. For me, that raised the question of whether he had employed the death penalty as a bargaining chip.
Citing “long-standing policy,” DA spokesperson Ben Waxman stonewalled. The office won’t “comment publicly on plea negotiations,” he said.
Several defense attorneys told me they believed the plea deal would have been a nonstarter without threat of the death penalty, which remains scary, even though there’s little chance of an execution being executed. That’s not redundant.
Even if a death sentence were imposed, Gov.Wolf in 2015 established a moratorium on the death penalty. I’ve got a better chance of dating Taylor Swift than Pennsylvania’s 149 death-sentenced inmates have of getting the lethal needle while Wolf is governor.
A source in the DA’s Office said that while Krasner remained personally opposed to the death penalty, “he would not give up the discretion” to employ it.
When Krasner’s flat “no” morphed into “it depends,” that set off Krasner’s hard-left brethren.
Max Marin in Philadelphia Weekly quoted the alarm of some of Krasner’s acolytes. Then, the Inquirer’s Abraham Gutman said that Krasner broke his promise to “never” use the death penalty. (Gutman campaigned for Krasner before he was hired by the Inquirer’s opinion section — and before Krasner went rogue, in Gutman’s view.)
I was not certain that Krasner had used the death penalty as leverage. He would not say that, but now others have.
Daniel Stevenson, chief of the Public Defender’s Homicide Unit, who represented Williams, told me, “The offer was: We will remove the death penalty if you plead guilty.” He said his client was “completely remorseful” and “wanted to plead guilty.”
Trevan Borum, who defended Hipps with cocounsel Michael Coard, agreed that the death penalty had been in play. His client took the deal because he “did not want to further traumatize” the family of the slain police officer, Sgt. Robert Wilson III.
Without question, Krasner went to where he said he would not go.
Political reality often “evolves” after an election. When Jim Kenney was running for mayor, he said he’d end stop-and-frisk. Once he plopped down in the mayor’s office, “end” was changed to “reform.” Kenney, too, got hammered by the Left.
I shouldn’t laugh at that either, but when sanctimony gets upended by political reality, it’s hard not to.