« Latest Gallup poll on death penalty shows little change in divided views among Americans | Main | Two notable commentaries in support of FIRST STEP Act from inside the Beltway »

October 22, 2018

"Larry Krasner’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration"

The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new profile in The New Yorker of perhaps the highest-profile local prosecutor in the United States.  I recommend the piece in full, and its subheadline provides a succinct summary: "Philadelphia’s District Attorney reinvents the role of the modern prosecutor."   Here is an excerpt from its first section:

Krasner, who is fifty-seven, is a compact man with an intense, slightly mischievous demeanor.  He likes to say that he wrote his campaign platform — eliminate cash bail, address police misconduct, end mass incarceration — on a napkin.  “Some of us had been in court four and five days a week in Philadelphia County for thirty years,” he said.  “We had watched this car crash happen in slow motion.”  Krasner often talks about how, running as a defense attorney, his opponents, most of whom had worked as prosecutors in the D.A.’s office, frequently attacked him for having no experience.  At one event, they were “beating the tar out of me because I have not been a prosecutor.  ‘Oh, my God! He’s never been a prosecutor!’ ”  But the line of attack worked to his advantage.  “You could hear people saying, ‘that’s good!’ ”  Brandon Evans, a thirty-five-year-old political organizer, said. “I remember people nodding profusely, rolling their eyes, and shrugging their shoulders.”

In 2015, Philadelphia had the highest incarceration rate of America’s ten largest cities.  As its population grew more racially diverse and a new generation became politically active, its “tough on crime” policies fell further out of synch with its residents’ views.  During Krasner’s campaign, hundreds of people — activists he had represented, supporters of Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter leaders, former prisoners — knocked on tens of thousands of doors on his behalf.  Michael Coard, a left-wing critic of the city’s criminal-justice system, wrote in the Philadelphia Tribune that Krasner was the “blackest white guy I know.”  The composer and musician John Legend, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, tweeted an endorsement.  In the three weeks before the primary, a pac funded by the liberal billionaire George Soros spent $1.65 million on pro-Krasner mailers and television ads.  Strangers started recognizing him on the street.  He trounced his six opponents in the primary, and went on to win the general election, on November 7, 2017, with seventy-five per cent of the vote.  He was sworn in on January 1, 2018, by his wife.

October 22, 2018 at 04:10 PM | Permalink


Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB