In an emotional swearing-in speech Tuesday, Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s new district attorney, promised to transform the city’s criminal justice system, fight inequality and lower the high incarceration rate.
“Today, we start the long road towards trading jails and trading death row for schools,” Krasner said. “Today, we trade fear for sanctuary.”
A civil rights defense attorney with a history of suing the Philadelphia Police Department, Krasner was elected as the city’s top prosecutor in November, defeating Republican opponent Beth Grossman.
Krasner, who has been applauded by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressives for his calls for reform and strong stance against capital punishment, said Tuesday that everyone deserves protection, support and a second chance. He spoke of human potential being lost due to incarceration, and of how the current system impacts residents across the city — from the police officer to the young student to the mother of a heroin addict.
“Today we start the long road towards trading division between police and the communities they serve for unity and reconciliation and cooperation, all of which make us safer,” he said.
Along with not pursuing death sentences, Krasner has said he will end the city’s use of cash bail and its controversial “stop and frisk” policy.
Krasner said the election was not about him as a person, but “a movement for criminal justice reform” that is sweeping the nation. His duty as a “technician” of that movement, he said, is “to seek justice in society.”
“That requires us to communicate the truth, to represent the public and to exercise power with restraint, with our roots dug deep in the rich soil of equality,” he said. “That’s what we need to do.”
Krasner replaces Kelley Hodge, who has been serving as acting district attorney since July, when she replaced Seth Williams. Williams announced in February that he would not seek a third term and was later indicted on 29 federal fraud charges involving campaign funds and other financial disclosures. He pleaded guilty to a bribery charge and was sentenced in October to five years in prison.