Civil rights lawyer Lawrence Krasner announces run for Philly DA


Lawrence Krasner, a longtime civil rights lawyer and death-penalty opponent, announced Wednesday that he will run for district attorney of Philadelphia.

Addressing an enthusiastic crowd of fellow lawyers and liberal activists in Center City, Krasner, 56, said he would make the city safer by pursuing justice that doesn't unnecessarily incarcerate minorities and the poor.

Krasner is one of five Democrats now running against incumbent District Attorney Seth Williams.

"Number one, we need to decarcerate. We need to get people out of jail," Krasner said.

"We have more men of color in prison, jail, on probation or parole, than there were in slavery at the start of the Civil War," he said.

The loudest applause came when he flatly declared: "I will not seek the death penalty."

He explained: "Simply put, this is the last northeastern city in the United States that even has it. Little-known fact. People act like it's a very controversial opinion. There's nothing controversial. It's frankly mainstream."

Krasner said the death penalty is not being carried out in Pennsylvania, "so what it really is is a tremendous waste of resources that can [instead] go to making people safe."

He also said he would change the bail system that often imposes high cash amounts, "which essentially means people are sentenced at the time of arrest, and they serve that sentence whether or not they are acquitted."

Krasner said he would work with the Philadelphia Police Department for smarter enforcement that targets the core group of people committing most of the serious crime.