BY DAVE DAVIES – WHYY
Philadelphia’s two candidates for district attorney traded verbal shots at a debate last night sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Committee of 70 at La Salle University.
Republican Beth Grossman touted her 21 years working in the DA’s office and took aim at Democrat Larry Krasner’s 30 years as a criminal defense attorney who often defended protesters and sued the police for alleged misconduct.
“You’ve spent your career defending those who have taken the lives of people by gun violence,” Grossman told Krasner at one point. “I hate to tell you, but the role of the DA’s office is [that] you have to prosecute.”
Krasner countered that Grossman’s experience was in a DA’s office that has gone in the wrong direction for decades.
“We’ve had a radical experiment in over-arresting, over-charging, over-prosecuting, over-convicting and over-sentencing,” Krasner said. “This system has broken people, broken families and broken employment for so many young people. It’s gotten us to a system that is neither safe, nor just.”
The two agreed on several things, such as decriminalizing marijuana and reducing reliance on cash bail, but they differed sharply on other issues.
Krasner cited the controversial civil forfeiture program, in which the DA’s office seizes property from people suspected of benefiting from the drug trade.
“They had over 1,000 houses, 3,000 cars and over $45 million taken from them very, very often when they were not even charged with anything and for no good reason,” Krasner said. “That is corruption.”