Philadelphia has a new district attorney. A progressive district attorney. We’ve looked at the things he wants to change and while we don’t agree with all of them he has some very good ideas. D.A. Larry Krasner wants to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated. We are firmly behind that. For years now we have heard the jail complain that they don’t have enough personnel. Commissioners Court has given them more and more money but the staffing crisis continues.
Maybe the answer is fewer inmates. But how is that achieved? Ending cash bail for non-violent crimes is one of the things D.A. Krasner wants to do. Cash bonds hurt poor people. They create a two tier system. People with money get out of jail. People without money stay in jail even though they have not been proven to be guilty.
Another thing Krasner wants to do is not prosecute marijuana and prostitution offenses. Instead he wants the individuals sent to diversion programs. This is a very bold move but one we agree with. People are beginning to realize that marijuana is not the dangerous drug it has been portrayed to be. They are even beginning to realize what benefits can be had from marijuana.
Prostitution has been around forever. Instead of locking women and men up over and over why don’t we try to help them to find something else? Why don’t we get them the help they need to break the cycle? No doubt it will take multiple times and there will be those that will never be willing to change but it’s worth a try.
The last of the things we want to mention is Krasner’s instructions that his prosecutors tell the judge how much it will cost to keep the person in jail. We think it’s good to remind the judges what their decisions are costing the tax payers. If a person needs to be put in jail then the cost is worth it but putting someone in jail because they didn’t pay a ticket? Is it really worth it?
When you incarcerate someone you take away so much from them. They lose their job. They can lose their house, maybe their children. They go into debt paying for their bond, if they can get one at all and odds are high they will end up with a criminal history that will make it hard for them to get another job. Now that we have knocked them down even lower than they were before they were arrested we expect them to become a model citizen.
Maybe it’s time for some progressive steps here in Bexar County.