Larry Krasner is the Democratic pick for DA. Here's what's next - Generocity Philly

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May 17, 2017 2:07 pm

Larry Krasner is the Democratic pick for DA. Here’s what’s next

What the civil right attorney's win in yesterday's primary election could mean for criminal justice reform in Philadelphia.

Larry Krasner (right) with attorney and activist Michael Coard.

(Photo via twitter.com/krasner4da)

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Jondhi Harrell. (5/18, 10:27 a.m.)
Civil rights attorney and former public defender Lawrence “Larry” Krasner has won the Democratic candidacy in Philly’s crowded district attorney race, as determined by yesterday’s primary election.

As Generocity reported when he entered the race in February, Krasner wants to “decarcerate, axe the death penalty and reform the bail system.” At a millennial town hall last month, the candidate spoke of supporting “long-term solutions like public education and drug treatment,” thus “providing opportunities to the young men who are most likely to get themselves involved with gun violence.”

“They need to have hope, they need to have a reason not to walk out the door and hang out with the guys in the corner, become part of a gang, pick up a gun and put blood on the street,” Krasner said.

He’s also been referred to throughout his campaign as the most progressive candidate (and the most likely to take the mic at a rock show) of the pool of seven Democrats running for DA — something the Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorneya coalition of 20-plus justice-focused organizations, had been pushing for in the race overall.

Accordingly, he’s wrangled a crew of supporters from Philly’s criminal justice reform community — including the ACLU’s Bill Cobb, The Center for Returning Citizens founder Jondhi Harrell and attorney and Black voting rights activist Michael Coard. (Side note: Bernie Sanders is also a fan.)

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So, those are his positions and who’s on his team. What’s next?

Krasner will face off with Republican Beth Grossman this fall. In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans seven to one, Krasner has a hefty chance of being elected Philly’s next DA, taking over the role from Seth Williams, who has been in the position for seven years and is currently under federal investigation.

Still, the next district attorney won’t be determined until then. According to Philadelphia Reentry Coalition Director Aviva Tevah, “The District Attorney’s Office has been part of the Coalition and we expected that to continue regardless of who the new DA is.”

Community Legal Services attorney Mike Hollander told us, “We hope that whichever candidate gets elected in November will adopt our policy recommendations in order to be a poverty fighter, not just a crime fighter. By implementing public policy strategies that break down barriers for people with criminal records and serve all Philadelphians, our city will ultimately be safer.”

To Harrell, Krasner being elected district attorney would mean “a seismic change in the justice system in Philadelphia, which is often very corrupt — as evidenced by Seth Williams — and often extremely punitive — as evidenced by past DAs,” said the activist, who spoke with the certainty that Krasner will win in the fall.

“What Larry Krasner’s victory means to us is we are going to finally have a DA who understands people, who will look at the population being incarcerated and their families, who will try to administer justice in a holistic way, who won’t seek the death penalty. We have a DA who [works for] the community. … Having Larry Krasner as a DA means a the possibility of [Philadelphia] being a national leader in true criminal justice.”

If Krasner does win, the Philly district attorney office can expect even more local and national scrutiny. We look forward to watching whether Krasner’s policies turn out to be as progressive as he’s promised they’ll be — and, in turn, what that truly means for criminal justice reform in Philadelphia.

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Julie Zeglen

Julie Zeglen is the editor of Generocity. Previous to joining the Technically Media team, she served as managing editor of Star Community Newsweekly, a hyperlocal newspaper focused on Philadelphia’s River Wards. The Temple alumna lives in West Philly.

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