Krasner Takes Nothing for Granted in DA Fight

BY JON MARKS – THE JEWISH EXPONENT

Larry Krasner doesn’t believe the fact that he’s never prosecuted a case in his 30-year career is a negative, or something that would prevent him from doing a good job as Philadelphia’s next district attorney.

In fact, considering the way things have gone in that office of late, culminating with former DA Seth Williams stepping down, pleading guilty to charges of accepting a bribe and receiving a five-year prison term, it might be a positive.

“In some ways, I feel it’s like the person who twice crashed your car coming back to you asking for your keys,” said Krasner, who’s spent his career as a defense attorney. “When you say, ‘Why should I give you my keys?’ they say, ‘Because I’m an experienced driver.’ So to those who say I’ve never been a prosecutor, that’s correct. It’s also true that the prosecutors we’ve had and those trained in the current culture of the DA’s office have been part of problems we’re trying to fix. This DA’s office has considerable problems and gets a bad report card.”

Full article at jewishexponent.com

Estos son los candidatos a la Fiscalía Distrital de Filadelfia

POR EDWIN LÓPEZ MOYA – AL DÍA

A dos semanas de la jornada de elecciones generales, los candidatos a ocupar la silla del Fiscal Distrital destapan sus cartas. ¿A quién elegirá Filadelfia?

El próximo 7 de noviembre, Filadelfia acudirá a las urnas con el fin de elegir a nueve jueces de la Corte de Primera Instancia del Condado (Court of Common Pleas), dos para la Corte Municipal, el controlador y el o la fiscal distrital. 

Uno de los cargos más taquilleros es precisamente el último. No solo porque, con un presupuesto de $36 millones y una planta de 600 funcionarios, la Fiscalía Distrital de Filadelfia es el órgano procesal más grande de Pensilvania (investiga más de 50.000 casos anuales), también porque es visto como un trampolín para saltar a la arena política — o a la cárcel, en el caso de Seth Williams. ...

Krasner afirma que todos sus objetivos se interrelacionan y que la mejor manera de articularlos es a través de un cambio cultural en la manera como los fiscales investigan y procesan los delitos en Filadelfia. 

“Un aspecto fundamental de ese cambio es entender que cuando uno hace un juramento para hacer justicia tiene que entenderla, no en términos matemáticos de maximizar condenas, sino en términos de costos, beneficios y efectividad de esa labor”, afirma.

Krasner se refiere a la implementación de una justicia quizá mucho más amplia que el alcance de las competencias del Fiscal Distrital; una justicia social que, sin embargo, pasa por aplicar un enfoque humano que valore el contexto socioeconómico de los procesados, y alternativo, que mantenga al mayor número posible de personas fuera de las cárceles.

Artículo entero en AL DÍA

Teachers, SEPTA workers, hotel workers join Krasner for DA

Endorsements bring some 20,000 additional union members
along with Philadelphia AFL-CIO backing

The campaign of Larry Krasner, the Democratic nominee for district attorney, announced today that it has gained the support of three major Philadelphia-based unions in the past week, as well as the endorsement of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO.

“The Philadelphia AFL-CIO is proud to endorse Larry Krasner, who will be a champion for workers as our District Attorney,” said Patrick J. Eiding, president of the Council, which comprises over 100 local labor unions representing close to 200,000 working men and women in the public sector, private industry, and building and construction trades.

Krasner, Grossman face off in D.A. candidates debate

CCRA debate between Democratic nominee Larry Krasner and Republican nominee Beth Grossman, with questions from Chris Brennan of the Philadelphia Inquirer

BY SAMARIA BAILEY – THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE

The Center City Residents Association (CCRA) hosted a district attorney’s debate at the Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel synagogue on Tuesday evening.

Democratic candidate Larry Krasner and Republican candidate Beth Grossman answered an hour’s worth of questions on a range of issues from death penalty stances to enhancing diversionary programs. 

“The ideal is that the right candidate wins ... that the office of the district attorney gets to the point where there is a little bit more trust and that there's the right philosophies. They set the tone for all the social concerns for the city and the way that goes is really a heavy responsibility,” said Harvey C. Sacks, CCRA Vice President for Government Relations.

See debate summary and Tribune video at phillytrib.com

Larry Krasner on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

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WHYY RADIO TIMES

Democratic candidate for District Attorney of Philadelphia Larry Krasner joins us today. He’s a veteran civil rights lawyer who is campaigning to end mass incarcerations and to clean up the D.A.’s office of corruption. He has sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times, has a tense relationship with various facets of the law enforcement community, and lacks prosecutorial experience. This unconventional background for a D.A. has led to nationwide interest in his candidacy. Krasner joins Marty today to discuss his views on the role of law enforcement, what problems he plans to correct in Philadelphia, and how his career as a defense attorney would inform his work as the city’s top prosecutor. 

Philly DA candidates debate civil forfeiture program at La Salle

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.”

Full story at whyy.org

This abuse by America's DAs is one of the reasons why athletes kneel

BY WILL BUNCH — THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS

Do you still wonder why some NFL players or other pro athletes kneel or raise their fists during the National Anthem? Here’s a hint: It’s not because they hate our troops. No, it’s because they’re aware — often because of their own experiences — of systematic injustice in this country … and they wonder why next to nothing is being done. And it’s not just police-involved shootings. Consider the ongoing abuses of the procedure known as civil asset forfeiture.

The short version is this: Civil asset forfeitures take a notion that most people support — drug dealers and other convicted crooks shouldn’t keep their ill-gotten gains — and, in far too many jurisdictions, has warped it into a kind of bounty hunting program where cash, cars, and even homes can be seized from people who weren’t convicted of a crime and sometimes weren’t even charged. This can bring in millions of dollars that prosecutors and law-enforcement agencies then spend with little or no public oversight.

... despite years of abuses exposed in the media, an association with the taint of civil asset forfeiture doesn’t seem to hurt your political career. How else to explain how Beth Grossman, who ran the program for years, won the GOP district attorney nomination and endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police and the Inquirer? ... Shouldn’t bad experience count for something?

Grossman’s Democratic opponent, Lawrence Krasner, has promised to only pursue assets after a criminal has been convicted. For common-sense proposals like that, some have branded Krasner a radical. But when you have a criminal justice system that is so badly broken, and so much in need of radical reform, is a radical not what you need?  Five months after Krasner’s overwhelming win in the Democratic primary, too many people see his victory as a fluke and not what it really was — an uprising of a new majority, boosted by the young and non-whites and others whose voices tend to be marginalized in this town, who aren’t just sick of injustice and inequity in America but are getting fed up with elites who don’t take their concerns seriously. Call it a revolution — and call it long overdue.

Full article at philly.com

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer Just Endorsed Mass Incarceration

BY DANIEL DENVIR — IN JUSTICE TODAY

In May, Philadelphians went to the polls and made history, voting by a large margin to back civil rights attorney Larry Krasner in the city’s Democratic primary for district attorney. On Sunday, residents awoke to find that the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board had endorsed Krasner’s Republican opponent, Beth Grossman, a former top prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office.

Krasner rallied Philadelphians to an upstart, radical campaign calling for an end to the era of mass incarceration and impunity for police misconduct. The city’s struggling paper of record endorsed a candidate who presided over a nationally infamous civil asset forfeiture program through which prosecutors seized homes and other property from city residents, oftentimes poor and working-class, black and Latino. At least, the editorial gushed, she has “a welcome hesitancy to go for the death penalty.”

Philadelphians want change. The Inquirer board ploddingly declared itself for the enervating cause of defending an intolerable status quo that will most likely be defeated on election day.

But points for consistency: Grossman is the second candidate for top prosecutor the paper has endorsed who has also been backed by the city’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, an unapologetically reactionary officers union headed by a man who recently called Black Lives Matter protesters “a pack of wild animals.” 

Full article at injusticetoday.com

Five questions with the Philly DA candidates

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER AND DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL BOARDS

On Nov. 7, Philadelphia will elect a new district attorney. The issues facing the DA’s Office — civil forfeiture, violent crime and guns, the role of the office in the opioid crisis, ethics and political corruption, and the influence of outside organizations — are, perhaps now more than ever, at the heart of Philadelphia public discourse. Our Editorial Boards sat down with both candidates last week to discuss these issues and others in preparation to make an endorsement.

Phila. Controller Says City Can Save $75M Yearly By Axing Cash Bail

BY PJ D'ANNUNZIO – THE LEGAL INTELLIGENCER

Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz on Wednesday announced that the city could save $75 million every year by eliminating cash bail for low-level offenders, freeing up funds that would be spent on incarcerating the poor.

In a report released by the Controller’s Office, Butkovitz said cutting cash bail would reduce the prison population from more than 6,500 to less than 4,700. By doing that, the city could close the House of Corrections and the Detention Center, saving the $75 million annually minus the potential cash bail payments.

... The idea of eliminating cash bail in Philadelphia has become a high-profile issue in recent times. One notable proponent is Democratic District Attorney candidate Larry Krasner, who has made overhauling the cash bail system a focus of his campaign, along with other reforms such as seeking lower sentencing schemes and never seeking the death penalty during his tenure.

    Full article at thelegalintelligencer.com

    SEE ALSO:

    Administration Calls Out Errors in Phila. Controller's Report on Cutting Cash Bail
    Philadelphia Controller Alan Butkovitz's recent report claiming the city can save $75 million annually by eliminating cash bail for low-level offenders contains key errors, according to a member of Mayor Jim Kenney's administration.

    Philly criminal justice officials in ‘damage control’ mode following cash bail report
    Leaders touching every corner of Philadelphia’s criminal justice apparatus — Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration, the city Department of Prisons, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, the Defender Association and the District Attorney’s Office — claimed Butkovitz’ office didn’t reach out to key criminal justice stakeholders for accurate information before publishing the report.