(Screenshot via YouTube)
Philadelphia is nearly a third of the way through its three-year, $3.5 million dollar MacArthur Foundation grant to lower the prison population by 34 percent, and leaders in the reentry community (and the city at large) are watching closely as the race for District Attorney unfolds.
Whoever is elected from the field of five candidates will face pressure to help meet grant goals, which include implementing pre-arrest diversion programs and alternatives to cash bail.
Now, according to a report from Philadelphia magazine, talk of a run at the office from Defender Association chief Keir Bradford-Grey — a staunch justice advocate who has called for alternatives to cash bail and the establishment of new diversion courts — has come to an end.
The public defender was being courted by associates of billionaire financier George Soros, whose backing of progressive Working Families Party helped both mayor Jim Kenney and New York City mayor Bill De Blasio win their respective elections.
Bradford-Grey told Philly mag she “can’t walk away from” the work she’s doing at the Defender Association. In an interview with Generocity in September, the public defender spoke of her dissatisfaction with the state of justice reform, stating the need to focus on the child welfare system and community engagement.
Bradford-Grey is a “finisher,” said reentry advocate and Defender Association board member Bill Cobb. But with the public defender opting out of a run, the reentry community will have to seek a new champion.
“There’s an amazing opportunity for whoever’s elected to that office to be smart on crime,” said Cobb. “This excessive culture of punishment that impairs people who are incarcerated’s ability to fully be restored as Americans.”
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Incumbent District Attorney Seth Williams (who has long-claimed to be “smart on crime”) told Generocity recently that he was feeling confident in his re-election, using his now-oft-repeated tagline,”The more the merrier.”
Williams, the only Black candidate in the race, might be feeling a little more confident without Bradford-Grey in that merry bunch of hopefuls.-30-
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