Nonpartisan Candidate Guide: 2017 Philadelphia District Attorney Race

Beth Grossman (R)

Larry Krasner (D)

This guide outlines the positions of Philadelphia’s 2017 District Attorney candidates.  Answers are verbatim candidate responses to a written questionnaire.

For printable PDF and mobile versions, see candidate guides.

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Cash Bail: What is your stance on ending cash bail?

Grossman: I do not object to no cash bail for non-violent lower level offenses.

Krasner: Yes.   End it.  Our jails are filled with people who have not been found guilty of a crime, but cannot afford to make bail while their cases are pending (unlike their more affluent counterparts).  This punishes the poor for their economic status, not any relevant issue pertaining to bail.

Criminal Justice Equity: What actions will you take to address the disproportionate criminalization of black and brown communities?

Grossman: Working with the school district to utilize pre-arrest diversion programs in for juveniles, especially those from the black and brown communities.  The student receives social services through the school or service providers instead of entering the juvenile justice system which can have long-lasting negative effects,

Krasner: Within the D.A.’s office, I will allow the study of institutional bias to fix it.  I will work with Police Comm. Ross to end illegal stop and frisk and, if necessary, reject cases that are its result.  I will increase diversity in the Office.  No death penalty.  No over-incarceration.

Criminal Justice Reform: How will you ensure police officers are held sufficiently accountable? 

Grossman: If a police officer commits a crime as set forth in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, and such crime is supported by evidence, then he or she will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.  During my 21 years as a prosecutor, I have investigated and prosecuted police officers for crimes committed both on and off-duty.  No one is above the law.

Krasner: I will work for a District Attorney’s office that holds police accountable, both by refusing to prosecute cases where evidence was obtained improperly, and by holding officers to the same legal standards as everyone else.  My 30 years as a civil rights lawyer holding police accountable proves this.

Mandatory Minimums: What is your stance on mandatory minimum sentences and why?

Grossman: I am in favor of mandatory minimums for violent offenses against vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly and children under a certain age. These crimes are horrific and the rights of victims and survivors of crime must never be lost or forgotten during the course of a prosecution.

Krasner: I oppose them.  Judges who know the specifics of a crime, its victims, and the defendant should not have their hands tied by mandatory sentencing laws, which mostly serve the interest of upstate legislators whose state prisons benefit their local economy and are hungry for prisoners from Philly.

Protest Sign: If you were to participate in one of the many protests happening across the country, what would your sign say?

Grossman: Racism, bigotry and discrimination should have no place in America. AT ALL.

Krasner: “Vote for Krasner”.  Kidding.  More like:  “Stand Up for Your Rights” or “Resist” or “Black Lives Matter” or “End the Death Penalty” or “De-Carcerate”.  These are, of course, the signs my pro bono activist clients have been carrying for 25 years.

Sanctuary City Status: As District Attorney, will you pledge support for Philadelphia’s status as a sanctuary city? 

Grossman: The District Attorney cannot and should not pledge support for anything that is in violation of any law, be it federal, state or local. Moreover, the District Attorney’s Office plays no role in enforcing ICE regulations and/or laws.

Krasner: Yes.  100%.  I am fluent in Spanish and have represented affected people for decades.  I also advised Mexican nationals through the Mexican consulate for a few years in relation to criminal matters and their effect on immigration.  One of my clients is clergy at a Sanctuary church.  I’m all in.

Stop & Frisk: Do you support stop and frisk as a practice?

Grossman: If an officer has reasonable suspicion based upon legitimate factors and concern for his safety, I do not object to this practice. However, I do not support stop and frisk that is conducted for no legitimate reason. Only a small percentage of stop and frisks result in anything illegal being recovered, so this demonstrates that the practice is questionable.

Krasner: Illegal ‘stop and frisk’ results in recovery of illegal items only 2% of the time while simultaneously alienating  98% of the people who are targeted (overwhelmingly they are male, young, poor and mostly people of color who move in poor neighborhoods).

Voting Rights: Pennsylvania restores the right to vote to returning citizens once they have completed their sentence, including parole. Do you support this state policy?

Grossman: I support this policy.  When an individual has paid his or her debt to society and returns, he or she is entitled to a good quality of life, public safety and a voice and vote to put the best candidates into office.  We should all be entitled to participate in our political process.

Krasner: Absolutely.  Whenever one group can exclude another from voting there will be a failure of democracy.  Mass incarceration is attributable in part to the fact that incarcerated people and returning citizens have been disenfranchised.

Created by Rock the Vote, a non-partisan effort which uses music, popular culture, new technologies and grassroots organizing to motivate and mobilize young people in our country to participate in every election. And by Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort which works with college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders to use their resources to engage their schools in elections.