Into the Philadelphia D.A.'s Office

Philadelphia’s reform-minded prosecutor grapples with a spike in gun violence.

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About this episode:

In 2017, Larry Krasner, a public defender and civil rights lawyer who had sued the Philadelphia police department multiple times during his career, made an unusual decision. He decided to run for Philadelphia District Attorney, the city’s top prosecutor. His goal was to reform that system from the inside. Krasner was part of a national wave of progressive prosecutors responding to calls for police reform.

Since taking office, Krasner has made efforts to stop the cycle of mass incarceration for low-level crimes while contending with a powerful police union and judges resistant to change. But Krasner says the city is still in the shadow of Frank Rizzo, Philadelphia’s former Police Commissioner and Mayor who was notorious for being “tough on crime.”

Now Philadelphia, along with several other major U.S. cities, is facing a spike in shootings and homicides, as well as a growing opioid crisis, on top of the pandemic. Some Philadelphians say Krasner should be doing more to keep the streets safe, others say his office is not doing enough to change the system. Trymaine Lee talks to District Attorney Larry Krasner about whether his reform agenda can survive.

Find the transcript here.

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