Larry Krasner was a defense attorney for years. Now he wants to change the system from within.
BY HOLLY OTTERBEIN – PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE
When Larry Krasner kicked off his campaign for district attorney in downtown Philadelphia in early February, more than a dozen political activists stood behind him. There were Black Lives Matter leaders, Occupy Philly alumni, and Arch Street United Methodist Church pastors, among others, almost all of whom Krasner has defended in court. “My biggest accomplishment has been to represent individuals,” he says, “as they faced the Goliath that government can be in order to make sure that they got fair trials and that their constitutional rights were preserved.”
In addition to working as a civil-rights attorney, Krasner has served as a city and federal public defender. A few years ago, he famously accused several narcotics officers of misconduct, and D.A. Seth Williams announced afterward that he would no longer call those cops as witnesses. If elected D.A., Krasner promises never to seek the death penalty, to work to eliminate cash bail, and to take other actions aimed at lowering the city’s sky-high incarceration rate.
Larry Krasner’s Platform at a Glance
- Death penalty: Strictly against
- Civil asset forfeiture: It should be “seriously reconsidered” and is “picking on the poor.”
- Cash bail: “We should move towards the no-cash bail system.”
- Gifts: He wouldn’t accept gifts as D.A.
- Super PACs: “It’s just a modern political reality.”
- On how to fight crime: Target the “6 percent of the criminals [who] commit 60 percent of the crime,” not entire neighborhoods of people of color and poor people.
- On whether bad cops are sufficiently held accountable: “I agree with what Black Lives Matter has said.”
Why are you running for district attorney?
The kilter of the D.A.’s office in Philadelphia is extremely problematic. It has been for a very long time. It is reflective of a national pattern, and that national pattern is that we have far too many people in jail. In fact, it’s the most incarcerated nation in the world. We have as many black and brown people in jail, in prison, on probation, or on parole as we had in slavery at the beginning of the Civil War. But none of that has made us safe.