Larry Krasner

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Larry Krasner
Larry Krasner, Candidate for Philadelphia District Attorney.jpg
Krasner as candidate for Philadelphia District Attorney, in 2017
26th District Attorney of Philadelphia
Assumed office
January 1, 2018
Preceded byKelley B. Hodge (ad interim)
Personal details
Born
Lawrence S. Krasner

1961 (age 57–58)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Chicago (A.B.)
Stanford University (J.D.)

Lawrence S. Krasner (born 1961) is an American lawyer serving as the 26th District Attorney of Philadelphia.[1] Krasner was elected to the position in 2017 and took office in January 2018.

During his tenure, Krasner has sought to spearhead criminal justice reform by ending bail payments for low-level offenders, reducing supervision for parolees, and seeking more lenient sentences for certain crimes.[2] Prior to his government service, Krasner was a prolific criminal defense and civil rights attorney and public defender who aggressively pursued police misconduct.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Krasner was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1961.[4] His father, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, wrote crime fiction, and his mother was an evangelical Christian minister.[5] His family eventually moved to the Philadelphia area while he was still in school.[4][clarification needed]

Krasner attended the University of Chicago, graduating in 1983.[6] He then attended Stanford Law School, graduating in 1987.[4]

Career[edit]

After graduation he moved back to Philadelphia to work for the Federal Public Defender’s Office.[4] In 1993, Krasner opened his own law firm.[1]

Krasner has worked as a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia for 30 years,[7][1] specializing in civil rights,[8] and frequently represented protestors pro bono.[7] His representation for members of movements like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philadelphia led many to call him an "anti-establishment" candidate.[9][10][11]

Krasner was a featured speaker at the 2017 People's Summit.[12]

Philadelphia District Attorney[edit]

Election[edit]

There was no incumbent D.A. in the race as sitting Philadelphia D.A. R. Seth Williams announced that he would not run for reelection in February 2017,[13] and pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges in June 2017, resigning from office. (The acting D.A., Kathleen Martin, chose not to run.)[14] When Krasner announced his candidacy, the president of the Philadelphia police union described his candidacy as "hilarious."[1] Krasner received no major newspaper endorsements.[1]

Krasner won a crowded, seven-way Democratic primary by over 17% on May 16, 2017, defeating former city and federal prosecutor Joe Khan (who placed second); former Philadelphia Managing Director Rich Negrin; former First Assistant District Attorney Tariq El-Shabazz; former prosecutor Michael Untermeyer; former prosecutor Jack O'Neill; and former Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni.[15][16][17] City officials reported that voter turnout in this race spiked nearly 50 percent, compared to the last contested race for district attorney of Philadelphia, in 2009.[18] The primary was widely seen as the proxy election, as the winner of the primary was the presumptive victor of the general,[11] as registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans in Philadelphia by almost 7-to-1.[19][20]

In the November general election, Krasner defeated Republican Beth Grossman, a former assistant district attorney, by nearly a 50% margin.[21]

Tenure[edit]

In his first week in office, Krasner fired 31 prosecutors from the District Attorney's Office, including both junior and career supervisory staff. Up to one-third of the homicide prosecutors in the office were dismissed, and the total number of those fired represented as many as a 10% reduction in the number of Philadelphia assistant district attorneys.[22][23]

In February 2018, Krasner announced that law enforcement would no longer pursue criminal charges against those caught with marijuana possession.[24] That same month, Krasner instructed prosecutors to stop seeking cash bail for those 'accused of some misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.[25] Krasner said that it was unfair to keep people in detention simply because they could not afford bail.[25] He also announced that the DA's office had filed a lawsuit against a number of pharmaceutical companies for their role in the city's opioid epidemic.[24] Krasner instructed prosecutors to stop charging sex workers who had fewer than three crime convictions.[26]

In March 2018, it was reported that Krasner's staffers were working on creating a sentence review unit–the first of its kind in the country–to review past cases and sentences, and seek re-sentencing in cases where individuals were given unduly harsh punishments.[27]

Also in March 2018, it was reported that Krasner instructed prosecutors to: "Offer shorter prison sentences in plea deals. Decline certain classes of criminal charges. And explain, on the record, why taxpayers should fork over thousands of dollars per year to incarcerate people."[28] He further stated that: "Fiscal responsibility is a justice issue, and it is an urgent justice issue. A dollar spent on incarceration should be worth it. Otherwise, that dollar may be better spent on addiction treatment, on public education, on policing and on other types of activity that make us all safer."[29]

In April 2018, it was reported that some judges had rejected the reduced sentences which Krasner's prosecutors had sought for juveniles which had previously been sentenced to life in prison.[30]

In June 2018, it was reported that Krasner had requested a comprehensive list of police officers who had lied while on duty, used excessive force, racially profiled, or violated civil rights. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "The exercise, unprecedented in scope in recent city history, is designed to help prosecutors flag officers with credibility issues early in a case and possibly prevent their testimony".[31]

On July 15, 2019, Krasner filed a motion in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to declare the state’s death penalty unconstitutional. Krasner cited high turnover rates, racial disparity, and ineffective counsel among reasons that capital punishment as practiced in Pennsylvania violates the state constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.[32]

Electoral history[edit]

Philadelphia District Attorney Democratic primary election, 2017[17]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Larry Krasner 59,368 38.24
Democratic Joe Khan 31,480 20.28
Democratic Rich Negrin 22,048 14.20
Democratic Tariq Karim El-Shabazz 18,040 11.62
Democratic Michael W. Untermeyer 12,709 8.19
Democratic John O'Neill 9,246 5.96
Democratic Teresa Carr Deni 2,335 1.5
Democratic Write-ins 20 0.01
Philadelphia District Attorney general election, 2017[33]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Larry Krasner 148,522 74.67
Republican Beth Grossman 50,330 25.3
Write-ins Write-in 53 0.03

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Larry Krasner's Campaign to End Mass Incarceration". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Melamed, Samantha. "Philly DA Larry Krasner: We took on mass incarceration. Now we're addressing mass supervision". Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  3. ^ Feuer, Alan (June 17, 2017). "He Sued Police 75 Times. Democrats Want Him as Philadelphia's Top Prosecutor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Meet Larry". Larry Krasner for Philadelphia District Attorney. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  5. ^ Terruso, Julia (May 12, 2017). "Civil rights attorney Larry Krasner: DA's Office is 'off the rails'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  6. ^ Class Notes, University of Chicago Magazine, Volume 91, Number 4, April 1999.
  7. ^ a b Speri, Alice. "Meet Philadelphia's Progressive Candidate for DA: An Interview With Larry Krasner". The Intercept. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  8. ^ "Civil rights attorney Larry Krasner: DA's Office is 'off the rails'". Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  9. ^ "2017 Pennsylvania Primary Election Roundup: Who won and lost". Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  10. ^ "This wasn't just a primary victory. This was a revolution". Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Philadelphia just set the national example in the fight against mass incarceration". Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Weigel, David. "Other lessons from the People's Summit". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  13. ^ Greg Salisbury, Philly DA Seth Williams won't run for re-election, City & State (February 10, 2017).
  14. ^ Jon Hurdle, Philadelphia District Attorney Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Resigns, New York Times (June 29, 2017).
  15. ^ Allyn, Bobby. "Enthusiastic Democrats Lead Anti-Establishment DA Candidate To Victory". NPR.org. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  16. ^ Chris Brennan & Julia Terruso, Krasner declared winner of Democratic primary for DA in Philly, Philadelphia Inquirer (May 17, 2017).
  17. ^ a b 2017 PRIMARY DISTRICT ATTORNEY-DEM, Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners.
  18. ^ Dent, Mark. "Major increase in Philly voter turnout propels Larry Krasner to victory". Billy Penn. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  19. ^ "Republicans are officially the least-registered political party in Philadelphia". September 20, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  20. ^ "In Philly, Independents and Third-Party Voters Now Outnumber Republicans". September 15, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  21. ^ Chris Brennan & Aubrey Whelan, Larry Krasner wins race for Philly DA, Philadelphia Inquirer (November 7, 2017).
  22. ^ Chris Palmer, Julie Shaw & Mensah M. Dean, Krasner dismisses 31 from Philly DA's Office in dramatic first-week shakeup, Philadelphia Inquirer (January 5, 2018).
  23. ^ Ryan Briggs & Max Marin, Leaked list shows Krasner firings targeted top staff, "Porngate" prosecutors, Philadelphia Weekly (January 5, 2017).
  24. ^ a b "Larry Krasner Sues Big Pharma, Drops All Marijuana Possession Charges". Philadelphia Magazine. February 16, 2018. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Philly DA Larry Krasner won't seek cash bail in certain crimes". Philly.com. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  26. ^ King, Shaun (March 20, 2018). "Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. He's Exceeding Expectations". The Intercept. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "The DAs Who Want to Set the Guilty Free". The Marshall Project. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  28. ^ "In latest edict, Philly DA Larry Krasner tells prosecutors to seek lighter sentences, estimate costs of incarceration". Philly.com. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  29. ^ "Philly DA wants prison costs included as judge calculates offender's debt to society". whyy.org. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  30. ^ "Philly judges block DA Krasner's deals for juvenile lifers". Philly.com. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  31. ^ "Philly DA Larry Krasner seeking to develop comprehensive list of tainted cops". Philly.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  32. ^ https://theintercept.com/2019/07/15/larry-krasner-pennsylvania-death-penalty-unconstitutional/
  33. ^ November 7, 2017 Municipal General & Special Election, Philadelphia County.

Further reading[edit]