Death Penalty Opponent Poised to Become Philadelphia District Attorney


Larry Krasner, a civil rights and defense attorney who strongly opposes mass incarceration and the death penalty, won the Democratic primary yesterday.

Mr. Krasner has never worked as a prosecutor and has spent three decades defending the city’s poor and generations of activists, including Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philadelphia protestors. In 25 years of defending capital cases, he said none of his clients has been sentenced to death. He has sued the Philadelphia Police Department some 75 times, and he rejects practices like stop-and-frisk, cash bail, and asset forfeiture, which disproportionately affect Black and poor people.

Philadelphia has the highest incarceration rate in the Northeast and an arrest rate double that of other big cities.

Pledging to end mass incarceration and to never pursue the death penalty, Mr. Krasner defeated six primary candidates, including several veteran prosecutors and a former city manager, and won 38 percent of the vote. He is expected to defeat Republican candidate Beth Grossman in November in this deeply Democratic city.

“Tonight was not about a campaign or a particular person. It was about a vision,” Mr. Krasner said in statement. “A vision of a criminal justice system that works for everyone. A society that builds people up instead of tearing them down.”

A coalition of local and national progressive groups supported Mr. Krasner’s campaign, which is the latest in a growing effort to oust overzealous prosecutors and elect district attorneys committed to racial justice and criminal justice reform.