Monday, March 14, 2022

Larry Krasner & Progressive Media Used Flawed Study Riddled With Wrong Numbers To Defend D.A.'s Pathetic Record On Crime

By Ralph Cipriano

On the campaign trail last year, District Attorney Larry Krasner had a ready defense whenever somebody criticized him for the way his office was handling surging gun violence.

Krasner repeatedly cited a study done by The Council on Criminal Justice. The CCJ, which bills itself as a "non-partisan" think tank, surveyed 34 cities nationwide and found that from 2019 to 2020, homicides went up by an average of 30%. 

In a widely publicized chart that accompanied that study, Philadelphia, with a 27% increase in homicides in 2020, ranked just 23rd on a list of 34 cities that compared annual increases in municipal murder rates across the country.

The findings of the CCJ study were subsequently trumpeted by progressive media outlets such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, The Intercept and NBC10, as well as Reason, the Libertarian magazine. The way Krasner and the media interpreted the CCJ study, and especially that chart, was to claim that Philadelphia's surging murder rate really wasn't so bad because across the country, murder rates were soaring, and in other big cities, things were actually much worse. 

The net effect of the CCJ study was was to blunt attacks from critics of Philly's incumbent D.A. for being soft on crime as he cruised to landslide victories in the city's Democratic primary in May and the general election in November.

But the CCJ study that was funded by a billionaire -- who has an existing partnership with Krasner and financially supports other progressive prosecutors across the country -- was fatally flawed.

Why? For starters, because of faulty data collection, that widely circulated CCJ chart that calculated the percentage of annual increases and decreases in municipal homicide rates across the country in 2020 got the percentages wrong for 30 of the 34 surveyed cities. 

For example, in Philadelphia, with a population of 1.6 million, the murder rate, published daily on the Philadelphia Police Department's website and widely publicized in the local media, rose from 356 murders in 2019 to 499 murders in 2020.

That's a 40% increase, and not 27%, as the CCJ chart claimed. 

On that CCJ chart, the list of numbers that are just plain wrong goes on and on. 

The CCJ Chart:

According to the CCJ chart, Seattle, No. 7 on the list, with a population of 737,015, had a 63% increase in the murder rate. But according to crime figures kept by the Seattle Police Department, murders rose from 36 in 2019 to 53 in 2020.

That's an actual increase of 47%, and not, as the CCJ reported, a 63% increase.

According to the CCJ chart, Atlanta, No. 15 on the CCJ list with a population of 498,715, supposedly had a 38% increase in murders. But crime stats kept by the Atlanta Police Department show the city went from 99 murders in 2019 to 157 murders in 2020.

That's a 59% increase, and not, as the CCJ reported, a 38% increase in homicides.

According to the CCJ chart, Buffalo, No. 19 on the CCJ list with a population of 278,349, had a 30% increase in homicides. But the actual numbers kept by the Buffalo Police Department show that Buffalo went from 44 murders in 2019 to 65 murders in 2020. 

That's a 48% increase in murders, and not, as the CCJ chart reported, 30%.

In addition to the faulty data collection that led to all of those wrong numbers published on the CCJ chart, the methodology of the study was also questionable.

Why? Because four of the top five cities at the top of that CCJ chart don't even belong in the rankings, because of their small populations and relatively small amount of gun violence.

None of those four cities at the top of the CCJ chart -- Chula Vista, CA, Chandler, AZ; Madison, WI, and Lincoln, NE -- rank among the 50 largest cities in the United States, and each had between 3 and 10 murders annually.

For comparison purposes, in 2020, Philadelphia averaged nearly 10 murders a week. 

But according to the CCJ chart, those four small cities led the nation with reported increases in the annual murder rate that averaged between 80% and 150%.

So because of the study's faulty data collection, overwhelming amount of wrong numbers, and questionable methodology, the CCJ's ranking of  Philadelphia as just 23rd out of 34 cities nationally in terms of the murder rate was a meaningless stat.

But Krasner ran with it. And because the media bought it, Krasner was able to avoid questions about his abysmal conviction rate and shocking anecdotal evidence of recidivism amongst violent offenders and felons caught with firearms.

The Four Small Cities At The Top Of The CCJ Chart

According to the chart, the No. 1 city in America with the largest percentage increase in homicides was Chula Vista, population 275,487, with a 150% increase in homicides.

But crime stats from the Chula Vista Police Department showed that the municipal murder rate jumped from 3 murders in 2019 to 10 murders in 2020.

That's a 233% increase, and not, as the CCJ chart claimed, an 150% increase.

There were more wrong numbers at the top of that CCJ chart.

Finishing No. 2 on the CCJ study was Chandler, AZ, population 275,987, with an annual increase in the murder rate of 133%.

But crime stats from the Chandler Police Department showed the municipal murder rate jumped from from 4 murders in 2019 to 8 in 2020.

That's a 100% increase, and not, as the CCJ reported, a 133% increase.

No. 3 on the CCJ chart was Madison, WI, population 269,840, with a reported a 100% increase.

But crime stats kept by the Madison Police Department showed that the city jumped from 4 murders to 10. 

That's a 150% increase, and not, as the CCJ reported, a 100% increase.

Finally, No 5 on the CCJ report was Lincoln, NE,  population 291,082, with a reported increase in homicides of 80%.

But crime stats kept by the Lincoln Police Department show the city went from 7 murders in 2019 to 8 murders in 2020.

That's a 14% increase, and not, as the CCJ chart reported, an increase of 80%.

How Larry Krasner Exploited That Flawed CCJ Study On The Campaign Trail

On the campaign trail in Philadelphia, despite all the faulty data, wrong numbers and questionable methodology, the CCJ study formally titled "Pandemic, Social Unrest, and Crime in U.S. Cities," proved to be very useful to Larry Krasner.

On March 22, 2021, all three candidates for Philadelphia D.A. were featured online at a Zoom candidates forum sponsored by the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Chuck Peruto, seeking the Republican nomination for D.A., got things started by citing Philadelphia's near-record of 499 murders in 2020. Peruto noted that at the time of the candidates' forum, the city under Krasner was on a course to set a new record for homicides in 2021 with more than 600 murders.

[The city settled for setting an all-time record last year of 562 murders.]

"Crime must have consequences, and Larry's programs have increased crime rather than decreased" it, Peruto said at the candidates' forum.

Next, Carlos Vega, who was challenging Krasner for the Democratic nomination for D.A., told the Zoom audience that when Krasner first got elected in 2017, he promised to reform the criminal justice system while keeping the city safe.

But that's not how it turned out, Vega said. 

"Philadelphia's more dangerous now than it has been in the last three decades," Vega said. "Mr. Krasner's approach to reform has made us vulnerable and unsafe."

When it was Krasner's turn to defend his record, he stated the surge in violent crime in Philadelphia was similar to what was going on all over America because of the Coronavirus.

"So let's get real about this issue," Krasner said. "Here's the reality. Every criminologist in the country agrees the crisis were having now is as a direct result of the pandemic."

Then, Krasner turned to the findings of the CCJ study.

"There was a look at 34 major cities in the United States to rank them on how bad their increase in gun violence was," Krasner said. "Of those 34 cities the average increase last year was 40%, which is terrible."

Here, Krasner inflated the study's findings, which reported a 30% increase in homicides, to 40%, but nobody called him on it. 

Maybe Krasner was thinking about the actual percentage increase of homicides in Philadelphia in 2020, which he had to know was really 40%, and not 27%, as the CCJ study had erroneously stated.

As far as Krasner was concerned, that 40% increase was "exactly as terrible as Philadelphia," he said at the candidates' forum. But then he got to his main point.

"When we look at those 34 cities, they ranked them according to who had the highest increase," Krasner said. "Some of these cities had 85 percent, 100 percent 108 percent increases."

And where did Philadelphia rank in that nationwide study?

"Philadelphia did not rank worst, at first, it did not rank second," Krasner said. "It ranked 23rd out of 34."

The CCJ's Response To Its Wrong Numbers

The lead criminologist on the CCJ study was Richard Rosenfeld, a distinguished professor emeritus of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

When I asked Rosenfeld about the error his study made in recording Philadelphia's percentage rise in the 2020 homicide rate, he replied in a telephone interview, "I'm reasonably certain that the number that we obtained [a 27% increase] was the number available at the time we were compiling the data."

"I can't tell you exactly why there's that large of a discrepancy," he said when told that the actual increase, according to the Philadelphia Police Department's crime stats, was 40%.

"Probably because there were revisions [in data] that we didn’t capture," he said. "For whatever reason, it [the actual 40%] number wasn't available when we updated" the data.

When asked if he needed to run a correction, Rosenfeld said, "We will update the 2020 homicide count for Philadelphia in all future reports."

When I told Rosenfeld in an email about numerous other wrong figures on the CCJ chart, he wrote back, "We use incident-level data because we have found it to be the most consistently available across a large number of cities at the time we gather our numbers. That incident-level data may (and often does) differ from the final summary crime counts on the police agency’s website, which, in turn, may differ from the agency crime counts eventually published months later by the FBI in its UCR crime reports."

"This is the nature of compiling near real-time crime data across multiple cities versus waiting months for the 'official' counts," Rosenfeld wrote. "It certainly does not mean that our findings are 'errors,' as you suggest. It means that the snapshot taken at the time we collect our data changes as numbers are updated for a wide variety of reasons later in the year. Recognizing that, we always include in our reports the proviso that the crime data we compile are 'subject to revision.' "

"I hope this clears things up."

If what Rosenfeld is saying is true, one wonders where the "revisions" are, since it's been more than a year after the 2020 end of report was issued, and the CCJ has already come out with a 2021 report. 

The second author of the study was Thomas Abt, a senior fellow with CCR. In a Jan. 12, 2022 story he wrote for Time magazine about the national surge in violent crime, Abt got Philly's increase in homicides in 2020 right this time in the second paragraph, at 40%.

Abt did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 

The Media Trumpets The Flawed CCJ Report

When the media reported on the fatally flawed CCJ study, which was published in January of 2021, the study was used to defend Krasner and discredit his political opponents.

On Feb. 1, 2021, Reason, a Libertarian magazine, ran the results of the "important new report," plus the full CCJ chart of the increases in homicide rates in all 34 cities, of which 30 of those figures were wrong.

On Feb. 2, 2021, NBC10 in Philadelphia ran a story headlined: "Philly's Rise in Homicides Is Bad. In Many Other Cities, It's Even Worse."

"Philadelphia, despite reaching 499 killings in a single year for only the second time since 1960, saw a year-over-year percent increase that ranked 23rd out of the 34 cities in the data sample cited in the commission's report," wrote reporter Brian McCrone, who did not respond to a request for comment.

On Feb. 3, 2021, The Washington Post weighed in with the results of the study: "A group of 34 of America’s biggest cities suffered a 30 percent total increase in homicides in 2020, according to a new survey published Monday, with police in four Midwestern cities reporting increases of more than 60 percent over 2019."

Curiously, the Post story contained corrected figures for increases in the municipal murder rates in New York Los Angeles and Washington D.C., all of which the CCJ report got wrong. But the Post chose to address those discrepancies by stating: "Some of the homicide statistics were updated by The Washington Post after the commission’s survey collected preliminary numbers."

The Philadelphia Inquirer Uses The Flawed Study To Boost Larry Krasner

On May 20, 2021, after Krasner won the Democratic primary for D.A. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a  story under the headline: "Voters didn’t buy that soaring gun violence is Larry Krasner’s fault. Neither do experts." 

Reporters Anna Orso and Sean Collins Walsh began by describing a TV ad paid for by a police PAC that showed a man "standing on a West Philadelphia sidewalk, firing a handgun multiple times in broad daylight."

As statistics highlighting the city’s soaring murder rate flashed on the screen, the reporters wrote, a narrator said: "Larry Krasner’s dangerous policies have deadly consequences.” 

But the Inquirer reporters didn't buy that.

"Voters were skeptical. And criminal justice experts say they were probably right to be," the reporters wrote. "One reason the anti-Krasner argument didn’t stick may be that there’s little evidence to back it up."

"The first major report to analyze the nationwide homicide spike in 2020 found that Philadelphia had the 23rd-highest increase among 34 cities studied, behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago," the reporters wrote. "The violence has racked cities with reform-minded and more traditional prosecutors alike."

The Inquirer story quoted Rosenfeld, " a University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist who has followed Krasner’s tenure," as saying that the D.A.'s critics failed to connect decisions Krasner made to the rise in homicides.

“I haven’t seen any evidence to that effect,” Rosenfeld told the Inquirer.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Uses The Flawed Study To Smear Three Republicans As Racists

Ten months later, the Inquirer was still relying on the flawed 2020 CCJ study to prop up Krasner. Last week, Inquirer political columnist Chris Brennan cited the CCJ study, and linked to it online, as evidence to show that a trio of Republican candidates running for governor of Pennsylvania were racists for attacking Larry Krasner's record as D.A.

"Republicans running for Pa. governor talk a lot about Philly crime. But who are they talking to?" the Inquirer headline said.

The subhead: "Soaring gun violence has provided a new opening for the law-and-order campaigning Republicans have used for decades. 'It’s a dog whistle that is used to ignite white fear,' one academic says."

"Their tough-on-crime rhetoric omits critical context: Gun violence has surged in many cities over the last two years, both in places with reform-minded, progressive prosecutors like Krasner, and those with more traditional ones," Brennan wrote about Krasner's critics. "A national study of 2020 homicides found that Philadelphia had the 23rd highest increase of 34 cities examined."

The D.A. And The Inquirer's Response To The Flawed Study

Krasner, who promised to be the most transparent Philly D.A. ever, but has been stonewalling all questions from Big Trial for the past 2 1/2 years, did not respond to a request for comment.

At the Inquirer, I emailed reporters Brennan, Orso and Walsh, as well as their boss, Inquirer Editor Gabe Escobar, to tell them about the flawed report. But only Brennan responded, declaring in an email to another reporter that "The Inquirer declines to comment."

None of the journalists at the Inquirer would answer the question of whether they were going to run a correction. And after Big Trial notified three reporters and the top editor on March 7th in writing that the CCJ study cited by the Brennan story was in error, what did the Inquirer do?

On the website, the city's paper of record, always a hard-core Krasner booster, published the same uncorrected Brennan story based on the CCJ's flawed findings for three straight days.

"No Standardized Data Available"

When I asked Professor Rosenfeld in a telephone interview how CCJ selected the 34 cities that were included in their 2020 study, he replied that the cities chosen were "all large cities, 250,000 population or above, that had available through their online portals weekly or monthly data available for ten types of crime."

"We did it [the study] based on the availability of the data," Rosenfeld said. "Ideally, that would have been great" to include all the largest cities. Ideally, it would have been great to look at all [big] cities."

But the reality is, there is "no standardized data available," Rosenfeld said. For example, Rosenfeld said, in a 2021 report he and Abt wrote, "We weren’t able to include New York City. Their data are not posted until well after we had to go press . . . It's not ideal from a research standpoint."

Regarding Krasner, Rosenfeld said, "I'm not aware of the D.A.'s use of the report. Our reports are widely disseminated . . . Whether Krasner used the report I don't know."

Reports authored by Abt and Rosenfeld on crime vary greatly in terms of the number of cities surveyed, and the number of years involved in the study.

For example, an earlier study that was billed as a "final report to Arnold Ventures" in 2020 "compares monthly homicide rates in 64 US cities during January through June of 2020 with the previous three-year average homicide rates during the same months."

That earlier study surveyed 64 U.S. cities ranging from the smallest, with "245,000 residents, to Los Angeles, the largest, with more than 3.9 million residents."

The earlier study found that Philadelphia's homicide rate had actually decreased over a four-year period going all the way back to 2017, the report stated. And in the earlier study, Chula Vista, Chandler and Madison were nowhere to be found.

In a subsequent 2021 study for the CCJ, Chula Vista and Madison were not included in the report that surveyed homicide rates for just one year in just 21 cities. That happened after Chula Vista's homicides dropped from 10 in 2020 down to 9 homicides in 2021.

In the 2021 CCJ report, Madison disappeared after it ran up the same number of homicides in 2021 as it did in 2020, 10.  Also missing from the 2021 report was Lincoln, after it ran up the same number of murders in 2021, 8, as it did in 2020.

Only Chandler, which dropped from 8 murders in 2020 down to 7 in 2021, made the 2021 survey, as the study said that Chandler's murder rate had decreased by 36%, when the actual number was 12.5%

The Billionaire Who Funded The Flawed CCJ Study

The CCJ studies were funded by Arnold Ventures of Houston, a philanthropic effort founded by John and Laura Arnold. He's a former energy trader at Enron who subsequently launched his own hedge fund, Centaurus Advisors, and according to, has a net worth of $3.3 billion. 

Arnold Ventures, incorporated as an LLC, is a dark money nonprofit where donors aren't disclosed and the source of the money is unknown. On its website, the LLC has proudly declared its support of progressive prosecutors across the country..

"We envision a new model of prosecution, where prosecutors’ decision making is transparent and data-driven, and prosecutors commit to a holistic — rather than punitive — approach to community safety," the Arnold Ventures website proclaims.

That statement of prupose runs under photos of self-described progressive prosecutors supported by Arnold Ventures, such as Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Kim Gardner in St. Louis, Kim Foxx in Chicago, Chesa Boudin in San Francicsco, Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn, and Rachael Rollins in Boston.

"We’re working to help prosecutors build data collection, evaluation, and analysis into their offices," the Arnold Ventures website proclaims. "This is a critical first step in understanding what effects prosecutors’ policies have on communities and in exploring how reform-minded prosecutors are changing outcomes."

"We’ll use this strong foundation of evidence to help support the new model of prosecution that’s emerging: one focused on evidence-based best practices and thoughtful use of prosecutorial discretion."

The Billionaire's Deal With The Philly D.A.

Arnold Ventures has an existing partnership with Larry Krasner.

On March 11, 2020, Krasner announced that Arnold Ventures would contribute $3.5 million to help fund a "Public Data Dashboard" that would publish stats chronicling Krasner's reforms of the local criminal justice system, such as exonerations, and years of incarceration imposed on convicted criminals.

The contribution from Arnold Ventures was matched by a $3.5 million donation from the Chan Zuckenberg Initiative, funded by billionaire Mark Zuckenberg and his wife.

"Our movement to make the criminal legal system fair, just, and effective for every community demands a more transparent and accountable exercise of that power,” District Attorney Krasner said in announcing the grants. “Philadelphia voters elected me in historic numbers because they rightly demand that this enormous power be shared with the public."

"I am thankful to our partners – including Penn, Arnold Ventures, and CZI – for providing the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office with financial and technical support for our effort to dismantle the ‘black box’ model of prosecutors’ offices in order to build a more fair, just, and effective criminal legal system.”

Rosenfeld, however, said he had no dealings with Arnold Ventures when they created the D.A.'s Data Dashboard, nor did he receive any data from it.

"Arnold funded CCJ's 2020 report," Rosenfeld wrote in an email. "That is the extent of my relationship."

What The Philly D.A.'s Data Dashboard Doesn't Tell Us

When he spoke to the Inquirer last year, Rosenfeld stated there is "no evidence" to date to show that Krasner's policies are causing a spike in violent crime.

The criminologist was quite specific, however, about how to prove if that relationship existed.

“What the opponents to Krasner would then have to show is that the persons who, under another policy, might have received a harsher punishment for illegal possession of a gun or illegal use of a gun, would have currently, under the Krasner policies, constituted a large fraction of those who are committing serious violence,” Rosenfeld said. “I haven’t seen any evidence to that effect.”

When I spoke to Rosenfeld, I asked if what he was talking about in that Inquirer interview was the recidivism rate of criminals who commit violent crime. He said yes, but the D.A.'s data dashboard as designed by Arnold Ventures does not track recidivism. 

The state of Pennsylvania, however, has moved to fill that vacuum. 

On June 8, 2021, the state House of Representatives passed  House Resolution 111 that calls for an in-depth six-year study of all gun prosecutions, not only in Philadelphia, but throughout all of Pennsylvania from 2015 to 2020. 

According to House Resolution 111, the study will be conducted by the PA Commission on Sentencing, which will study gun arrests, sentencing and recidivism, and deliver a report to the House's Judiciary Committee on June 30th. 

If the state follows through, it will publish information that the D.A.'s office in Philadelphia has intentionally chosen to hide, such as the recidivism rate among violent offenders and the actual case and sentencing outcomes on all violent crime and gun possession cases. 

What's going on in Philadelphia in terms of violent crime does deserve a closer look. While national trends do show a 30 to 40% increase in homicides around the country since 2015, what's happening in Philadelphia is actually bucking that trend. 

Since 2015, Philadelphia has seen a 103% increase in homicides, from 280 in 2015 to 562 in 2021; along with a 88% increase in shooting victims, from 1,238 in 2015 to 2,332 in 2021. 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that recidivism and lighter sentences that are hallmarks of the Krasner criminal justice "reforms" might be accelerating gun violence.

In Philadelphia, Arnold Ventures has access to all of the data that would fully reveal what's going on in the Philly D.A.'s office regarding recidivism and sentencing outcomes on all violent crime and gun possession cases. 

But so far that information has not seen the light of day. 

One has to wonder why.


  1. It's not gona change because of the bleeding heart liberals who think these people could be rehabilitated. Most of these criminals need to be in jail or dead...bring back the death penalty an see how fast some things change eye for an eye and take the cuffs off the police let them do there job the way they are supposed to...

    1. I think this is working as planned.
      Elites are giving the lower classes the tools and governance to Kenney all themselves off. Murder, guns, opiates...let the poor, historically under served people of color and not color, off themselves.
      Easy peazy.

  2. Replies
    1. Krasner= Inquirer news, which the same thing you said.

    2. The true statics were known to Jim Kenney, who wisely fled to lily white Old City, leaving behind an ethnically and racially diverse working class neighborhood Kenney is now helping to destroy with his gross incompetence and deadly apathy.

  3. Wow! And they say Trump was a liar.
    He was.
    But the democrats and their billionaire funders are much better liars and cover up artists.
    The Inquirer helped Gerry Lenfest cover up, then obscure with gentle, deflective, and limited reporting on decades of child sex abuse at the Curtis Institute.
    The Inquirer failed to report meaningfully on decades of violent sex assaults, rapes, and abuse at Comcast, which vetoed investigations from those outside the company.
    The Inquirer failed to report meaningfully on the violent show and assaults and rape at the 2016 NJ governor campaign.
    We read nothing of Epstein or Weinstein in the Inquirer or media. Yet, their horror continues.
    The Prince Andrew just paid the girl he raped $12M pounds: "the grand old duke had $12M quid; he paid it to a woman he never met for something he never did!" Is what those who work in the palace chime.
    Elites know how to make all this go away, if they favor you.

  4. Excellent work yet again, Ralph. Stay after them. Be strong.

  5. Just once in These Reports it would be illuminating to discuss the relationship between the Nation of Islam and the Gangsters that are protected under their cover.

    The Black Mafia was absorbed and funded by the Black Muslims 50 Years Ago, when Cretins like Jesse Jackson's Brother, the Largest Heroin Dealer in Chicago, and Muhammad Ali knelt at the feet of Elijah Muhammad.

    Phony Statistics don't account for Runaway Crime and Inflation.

    The price of Drugs and Guns is the mere cost of Doing Business.

    When the New Wave of Ukrainian Gangsters arrive, the Crime Statistics will soar in the Battle for Territory in America's Playgrounds.


Thoughtful commentary welcome. Trolling, harassing, and defaming not welcome. Consistent with 47 U.S.C. 230, we have the right to delete without warning any comments we believe are obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.