Every day, judges around the country are deciding the fate of criminal defendants by trying to strike the right balance between public safety and fairness.
In Philadelphia, the new progressive district attorney has launched an experiment. He’s asking his prosecutors to raise another factor with judges: the cost of incarceration.
The move has ignited a debate about whether the pricetag of punishment belongs in courtrooms.
Do a little math:
“Fiscal responsibility is a justice issue, and it is an urgent justice issue,” Larry Krasner said at a press conference recently.
Krasner is a former civil rights lawyer who rode into office on a platform of radically revamping the city’s district attorney’s office by opposing the death penalty, stepping away from cash bail and seeking shorter prison sentences for offenders.
He sees asking prosecutors and judges to grapple with the cost of locking up a defendant as a stride toward fulfilling his promise of trying to fight mass incarceration.