My first assignment as an intern in the district attorney’s office was to attend a Pennsylvania Supreme Court hearing at city hall. District Attorney Larry Krasner filed a “King’s bench” petition calling for the death penalty to be declared unconstitutional in Pennsylvania. That day, as I walked down the damp corridors of the centuries-old courthouse, the idea of abolishing the death penalty became a real possibility for me.
Listening to the arguments for and against the death penalty, I mainly reflected on the statistics that were presented: over 80% of those incarcerated in the death row in Philadelphia are black males and over 90% are non-white. My father, a black man from Jim Crow South, never went to jail, but fled the small town where he grew up to avoid being placed on the chain gang. Ultimately, he experienced the threat of the most horrific commonality among black men in the United States: mass incarceration. Krasner’s argument at the hearing was simple: the death penalty disproportionately affects poor blacks and Maroons; it must end. No one disagreed about the statistics. Instead, the conversation mostly focused on Larry’s use of the King’s Petition, which demanded “immediate public importance, ”To be deemed necessary. Being there that day reminded me of two things. First, there is no way around the cruel systemic and structural features of our criminal justice system that rationalize poor black and brown men on death row and expand mass incarceration without the challenge of formality. . Second, Krasner’s long-term endeavor shed light on what he really cares about: justice.
A few months after my internship in the Belief Integrity Unit (CIU) of the DAO, I met Terrance Lewis, a native of West Philadelphia and founder of the Terrance Lewis Foundation for Liberation. After being incarcerated for over 21 years for a murder he did not commit, he was exonerated by a CIU judge in 2019. Less than a year after being exonerated, Lewis turned his passion towards founding and building the Liberation Foundation, and I recently spoke with him about Krasner’s influence .
“[Larry] helped me realize the importance of dedicating the rest of my life to helping people [who] have been served injustice, providing help and righting wrongs, ”Lewis said. Its authenticity is inspiring, and he’s right to point out Krasner’s dedication to righting wrong. To date, the Krasner CIU has exonerated 20 people.
After seeing her in a Starbucks Rittenhouse, I would never have considered Lynne Abraham a person worthy of the title “Deadliest DA. However, it is one of the titles bestowed upon him during his tenure as Philadelphia District Attorney from 1991 to 2010. Roger King, Senior Assistant Attorney in Ms. Abraham’s Office, infamous has pursued the death penalty in numerous homicide cases that he has prosecuted. One of these cases concerned Chester Hollman for the murder of a Penn student in 1991. Twenty-five years after being wrongly convicted, he was Released from prison in 2019. During the hearing that solidified his liberty, Common Plea Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright insightfully criticized Lynne Abraham’s office and Roger King’s work, stating that the the prosecution’s behavior had been “A disservice to Hollman and the criminal justice system, which must be based on the integrity and candor of all parties.”
Chester Hollman recently spoke with me about the importance of re-electing Larry Krasner, sharing, “Larry Krasner is the first DA in city history to bring true integrity to what the office is meant to represent. He saved our legitimate right to freedom.
For decades this city has unfairly punished its citizens under the guise of white identity politics, but Larry Krasner made the change in Philadelphia. As Chester says, we must learn from the corruption of the past and continue to embrace and defend the elected officials who embody integrity and seek justice.
Carlos Vega, Krasner’s opponent in the Democratic primary, is a reflection of Philadelphia’s treacherous past. Larry Krasner fired him in 2018. Two years before his dismissal, Mr Vega was one of the prosecutors working on the huge retrial of Anthony wright, an innocent man who was exonerated thanks to DNA evidence after serving 25 years in prison. Mr. Vega was FOP approved, the Philadelphia Police and Sheriffs Union. FOP leader John McNesby is known for his manifestations of racism and his desire to Discard by Larry Krasner. Larry Krasner accused his opponent of being indebted to FOPs and their motivations. The FOP has significantly given to the Vega campaign, and they led an initiative calling for registered republicans transfer their registration to the Democratic Party in an attempt to influence the next primary elections. They hosted and drank beer with the Proud Boys at an after-party when former Vice President Mike Pence visited Philadelphia last summer ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
It is clear that Carlos Vega is not a candidate who will work to dismantle the systemic and structural racism that plagues Philadelphia. His decision to get comfortable with FOP lights up his Law and order mentality. Of Problematic White House Larry Krasner complaining visits to ignorantly and shamefully label the killings of civilians that occur in mental health emergencies just as police officers “do their job, ”Vega’s FOP endorsement is troubling. Their presence in this city is repugnant, and their culture is reminiscent of old and broken policies – the guys who unfairly punish blacks, maroons and the poor.
We must keep the door to injustice closed. Larry Krasner a reduced the city’s prison population and mass incarceration. It targets what matters. He freed twenty innocent people. He recognizes that mass incarceration is systematically discriminatory and ruthless. He recognizes the political battles he faces in Philadelphia, but he meets them head-on and does not give up the fight. After witnessing his dedication, much of which was met by repression, I can’t wait to see what he will accomplish in his next term. He shed light on what justice means in our city. There is no turning back: Philadelphia needs Larry Krasner.
JESSICA GOODING is a college graduate studying Philadelphia History and English. She has been an opinion columnist since 2019.