(Photo by Flickr user Tom Ipri, used under a Creative Commons license)
With troubled incumbent Seth Williams out of the race for district attorney and news that Philly’s Democratic party will not endorse any of the seven Democratic candidates running for his seat, there’s no clear picture as to who might be Philadelphia’s new lead prosecutor.
Uncertainty and a crowded field means a clean slate for activists looking to push candidates further left toward progressive criminal justice reforms Williams seemed to like parading in public, yet conveniently forget about in practice.
Enter the Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorney, a coalition of approximately 20 organizations “focused on electing the most justice-focused district attorney possible,” according to Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) organizer Hannah Jane Sassaman.
The coalition, comprised of groups such as Project HOME, Color of Change, American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA), Juntos, The Center for Returning Citizens, Asian Americans United and many, many more, are pushing candidates toward these primary reforms:
- Improve interactions with Philadelphia’s Black and Brown communities
- Increase transparency and accountability in the DA’s office
- Commit to treating youth as youth
- Consider consequences for immigrants in the criminal justice system
- End Philly’s long-reviled cash bail system
“This election offers Philadelphians a unique chance to reject the harsh and unproductive policies and practices that have led to mass incarceration,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of ACLU-PA, in a statement. “This is a chance to elect a district attorney who is committed to bringing true reform to Philadelphia’s criminal justice system.”
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