BY LAYLA A. JONES – THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE
One District Attorney candidate, who immediately gained the support of activist and attorney Michael Coard, has dedicated much of his career as an attorney to giving back and helping others.
Krasner, 56, graduated from Stanford Law School in 1987 and began working as a public defender for Philadelphia. He was inspired to become a criminal defense attorney, he said, after serving on a jury for a death penalty case. After five years as a public defender, Krasner opened his own practice working in civil rights and criminal defense.
Over the last quarter century, Krasner has represented protesters from the 2000 Republican National Convention, Occupy Philly and Black Lives Matter and others. He notably represented Askia Sabur in a police brutality case in which Philadelphia Police Officers were videotaped beating Sabur, who was charged with resisting arrest and assault. Sabur was cleared on all charges.
Krasner said his study of the U.S. Constitution through his civil rights work will help him bring the necessary change to the D.A.’s office.
“The first obligation of all law enforcement and all lawyers is supposed to be to uphold the constitution,” Krasner told The Tribune. He said his job as a civil rights attorney is to study ways citizens challenge the government when they violate the constitution.
“I can’t think of any context where the push back against the government is more important and more delicate than between the prosecutors who have the power to ask that you be executed or the power to ask that you spend the rest of your life in jail,” he said.
As D.A., Krasner wants to “de-carcerate,” he said in his campaign announcement video. He wants to end mandatory sentencing and institute more fair sentencing guidelines so that individuals don’t serve more time than necessary, or are sentenced to probation rather than jail time in some cases. Another huge platform for Krasner is the call to end the death penalty.
Krasner also wants to replace Philadelphia’s cash bail system with what he called “sweat bail.”
“The cash bail system has discriminated against the poor in my opinion,” Krasner said, “because there’s no good reason why a middle- or upper-class person should be out on bail with the same crime and same record while a poor person is in jail.”
Instead, Krasner said the city should institute a system similar to that in Washington, D.C. where individuals are required to check in at day centers that cater to the specific crime involved on a daily basis.