Real change in the DA’s Office

The culture of the Philadelphia DA’s Office must change.
We will achieve real justice for victims and others caught up in the criminal justice system.

For far too long the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has been driven by a win-at-any-cost culture that prioritizes high conviction rates and harsh sentencing over more effective approaches that are proven to reduce crime. As District Attorney, Larry Krasner will fundamentally change that culture, from a culture of seeking victory for prosecutors to a culture of seeking justice for victims.

Larry has a proven track record of fearlessly fighting for progressive reform of Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. He will never pursue a death sentence in any case. He will reject illegal use of stop-and-frisk, reform our broken cash bail system, and stop the abuse of civil asset forfeiture. While re-focusing the DA’s Office on prosecuting serious crimes, he will seek alternatives to incarceration — dramatically reducing the number of prisoners held, saving millions of tax dollars, and letting wounded communities begin to heal.

For 30 years Larry has walked the walk for civil rights.
He will keep walking the walk as District Attorney.


End mass incarceration

 

+ Stop prosecuting insufficient and insignificant cases

While other district attorney’s offices typically prosecute 80 to 85% of cases forwarded by the police, in Philadelphia the DA’s office prosecutes over 98% of them. It acts as an arm of the police rather than a guardian of the public trust in its own right. Not only does this clog the courts, delaying trials, but it contributes to Philadelphia’s high incarceration rate — the highest among major US cities. This over-prosecution results from a toxic culture that prizes prosecution over promoting justice and focuses on winning convictions at any cost, too often at the cost of justice itself. Larry Krasner will decline to prosecute cases forwarded by the police that lack support by sufficient and legally obtained evidence.

+ Review past convictions, free the wrongfully convicted

The DA’s Office has made it a practice to resist exposing new evidence that might reveal that a conviction was made in error or through misconduct by police or prosecutors. Larry will seize every opportunity to expose evidence that might allow an innocent person to go free, no matter how many years have passed. That includes fully staffing the Conviction Review Unit with prosecutors whose character and proven history of protecting the innocent are clear, so that when a pattern of past misconduct is found, any similar cases can be reviewed. To prevent wrongful convictions in the future, Larry will ensure that all potentially exculpatory evidence be shared with the defense, and will generally require as a matter of policy that confessions taken by police be videotaped whenever possible to be entered into evidence. Police officers found to have lied on the stand will be disqualified from testifying.

+ Stop cash bail imprisonment

About 4,500 of the 7,500 people held in Philadelphia prisons have not been convicted — they simply cannot afford bail and are awaiting trial. Because the courts are clogged with cases, they wait in jail for more than three months, on average. Under Philadelphia’s broken cash bail system, we pay about $40,000 per inmate per year holding people because they can’t afford bail, which is sometimes less than $1,000. While suspects who are dangerous to others or who may not return for trial will still be held, Larry will implement alternatives to cash bail for those charged with nonviolent offenses, including monitoring and regular check-ins, an approach similar to the one used successfully in Washington D.C.

+ Treat addiction as a medical problem, not a crime

Last year Philadelphia had three times as many drug overdose deaths as deaths by homicide. Larry Krasner knows that the solution to drug addiction is treatment, not incarceration. Prisons are ill-equipped to treat addiction. As District Attorney, Larry will build up Philadelphia’s drug court capacity and increase opportunities for diversion, allowing those arrested for drug possession or for minor offenses due to addiction to get the treatment they need instead of incarceration.

+ Bring police and communities together

Ineffective, divisive police measures fail to make us safe. They also divide police and the neighborhoods they protect, increasing unnecessary conflict and making police work more dangerous. Larry will work with the police department to reform divisive law enforcement tactics while holding suspects and police officers equally accountable as the law requires. Victims of crime, their families, our communities and all suspects all deserve transparency and fairness in determining the truth.


Focus on serious crime

+ Target the crimes that matter most

Too many resources are being used to prosecute minor property crimes and minor drug offenses, often related to addiction. Just 6% of criminals commit 60% of our city’s serious crimes, but too many of these cases, notably homicide cases, do not end in a proper conviction. Larry will push for more proactive, intelligence-based policing and will shift prosecutorial resources to focus on the most serious crimes against people, including sexual assault, human trafficking, and homicide. Those who commit violent crimes against any of us must feel the full consequence of their actions.

+ Treat victims with respect and sensitivity

Too often, the District Attorney's office has failed to prioritize the needs of victims. The response to violence should be centered on the needs of survivors and based on accountability and developed in consultation with victim advocates and experts. Larry will expand support of victim/witness service programs and use a trauma-informed, evidence-based approach to improve handling of cases, particularly cases of sexual and intimate partner violence, and to improve communication with victims and family members.

+ Fight fraud and corruption

Fraud and public corruption are forms of theft that exploit the less powerful in our society and undermine public trust in government. Larry has built a career standing up to people who have taken advantage of others by abusing their power. Larry will work with the community and law enforcement to charge and convict those who criminally defraud the public or abuse public office for personal gain.

+ Protect the environment

Polluters large and small threaten our communities by illegally dumping waste on our streets and on private property as well as into our waterways, and by poisoning our air. Larry will protect our environment and our children's health by prosecuting dumpers and other polluters to the full extent of the law.


Stand up for our rights and liberties

 
 

+ Stop pursuing death sentences

Larry Krasner is the only candidate running for District Attorney who explicitly pledges to never seek the death penalty and has done so throughout the campaign. He knows that capital punishment is expensive, ineffective, and racially biased. Since its reinstatement by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, it has cost Pennsylvania taxpayers over $1 billion, yet no one on Pennsylvania’s death row has been put to death involuntarily since 1962. Meanwhile six people on death row have been exonerated. Philadelphia is the only northeastern city in which a death sentence is possible. Exercising his discretion as District Attorney, Larry will never seek the death sentence.

+ End illegal stop-and-frisk

Stop-and-frisk, as it has been practiced, is unconstitutional and ineffective. It angers its targets and endangers both the police and the population. Larry will end this practice by refusing to bring to trial cases stemming from illegal frisks and searches. To reduce crime in our city, Larry will advocate for intelligent and proactive policing that interrupts serious crime at its source: the people who commit the vast majority of violent crimes.

+ End civil asset forfeiture

Philadelphia is a national example of the worst practices in asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture enables the city to seize cash or possessions with no proof of criminal activity, let alone a conviction. The proceeds are then funneled back into the District Attorney’s office, incentivizing more seizures, instead of going to the general fund. As District Attorney, Larry will work to put an end to this abusive process by using asset forfeiture only in criminal cases after a conviction has been made, and ensuring that there is meaningful opportunity to contest any seizure.


Resist the Trump Administration

 
 

+ Protect immigrants while protecting everybody

Larry Krasner is dedicated to fighting President Trump’s anti-immigration agenda and increasing trust between immigrants and police — because cooperation is essential to law enforcement. As District Attorney, he will work to maintain Philadelphia as a “sanctuary city” and protect the Fourth Amendment rights of all residents, cooperating with federal authorities only to the degree required by law. Because legal proceedings can affect the status of immigrants and therefore relations between communities and law enforcement, Larry will take those effects into account when making prosecutorial decisions and setting prosecutorial policy. He will oppose renewal of ICE’s access to the PARS database, a city police database used by ICE to identify “deportable” immigrants.

+ Reject a return to the failed drug wars of the past

The new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is enthusiastically discussing a return to the failed drug wars of the past, with increased prosecution of nonviolent drug offenses and use of mandatory minimum sentencing. As District Attorney, Larry will be our city’s first and best line of defense against this outdated and counterproductive approach, which wastes resources and does not make our city safer. Larry will instead seek to divert non-violent drug offenders into treatment and use discretion to avoid unduly harsh sentences, so that we can focus our criminal justice system on keeping us safe from the small number of criminals who commit the vast majority of violent crimes.

+ Stand up to police misconduct

While most police officers are professionals who respect the rights of the public, abuses of authority are far too common. As many police commissioners have realized, outside pressure can improve both the culture and policies of local law enforcement. Obama’s Department of Justice provided that pressure through consent decrees and cooperative efforts with police. But Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has signaled his intent to abandon those efforts. As District Attorney, Larry will keep up the pressure for reform by rejecting cases that rely on abusive or discriminatory actions by the police, by prosecuting police when appropriate, and by making the case that good policing is more effective than the divisive law enforcement tactics encouraged by politicians like Trump and Sessions.

 

Photo above: Hanbit Kwon