By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square
(The Center Square) – In Pennsylvania’s race for governor, crime matters, but what the candidates will do about it isn’t equally clear.
Though the economy remains the priority of voters, crime has been a growing concern, according to polls in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Republican candidate Doug Mastriano has criticized Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro’s tenure as attorney general over increases in serious crimes.
“Josh Shapiro has been the attorney general of Pennsylvania for the past six years – and his record of failure speaks for itself,” a Mastriano campaign spokesman said in an email. “Philadelphia alone has had 423 homicides, 1,850 shooting victims, 4,411 robberies, and 9,341 stolen cars so far this year. Under his watch, Philadelphia saw a 40% spike in homicides between 2019 and 2020.”
In response, Mastriano portrays himself as tough on crime.
“As governor, Doug Mastriano will ensure that police get the funding and support they need to keep our communities safe, expand cooperation between state and local law enforcement, strengthen penalties for repeat offenders and violent criminals, and secure funding for additional prosecutors in high-crime areas,” his spokesperson said.
Information on how he will make communities safe, though, is elusive.
On his website, Mastriano says he “will clean up PA’s worst neighborhoods and he won’t hesitate to assist local law enforcement with State Police and National Guard to protect law-abiding citizens and businesses during periods of mass unrest and riots.”
Shapiro’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
However, Shapiro’s website has a breakdown of what he says are his accomplishments as attorney general. Of the four candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, Shapiro has provided the most detailed plan in response to crime.
“Under Josh’s watch, the Office of the Attorney General has arrested an average of four drug dealers a day and has taken thousands of illegal guns off the streets,” his campaign website says.
Shapiro’s campaign also emphasizes his support for the police: “Josh has supported law enforcement across Pennsylvania, calling for increased funding for training and working collaboratively with local police departments. As communities across the Commonwealth face a historic shortage of police officers, Josh is calling to immediately hire officers to fill open roles, and invest in recruitment and training to ensure you can count on law enforcement to respond in an emergency.”
Shapiro also notes his support for reform.
“Josh believes we must invest in public safety while pursuing smart criminal justice reform that will address those inequities, restore trust, and make our communities safer,” his website states. “He will work to improve public safety and reduce recidivism by reforming probation and parole, funding indigent defense, and keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. He will also invest in addiction prevention programs and expand treatment options so that nonviolent offenders can access the support they need.”
Shapiro opposes mandatory minimum sentences, the death penalty, and wants to reform cash bail and the probation and parole system.
On the state level, the General Assembly has discussed sealing criminal convictions, staffing issues in Pennsylvania’s prisons, and struggles with hiring police officers, as The Center Square previously reported.
For voters, Shapiro’s priorities are more clear, but the policy details of Mastriano may not be known unless he becomes governor.