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January 02, 2018

New Philly D.A. Larry Krasner: Let's swap jails for schools

Longtime civil rights attorney takes office

Inauguration Larry Krasner
05162017_Larry_Krasner Source/Krasner campaign

Former defense attorney Larry Krasner is Philadelphia's new district attorney.

Larry Krasner echoed his progressive campaign pledges upon being sworn in as Philadelphia's district attorney on Tuesday morning at the Kimmel Center.

Krasner, 56, a longtime civil rights attorney known for suing the Philadelphia Police Department and representing activists and protesters for free, called himself a "technician" for a "movement for criminal justice reform" sweeping Philadelphia.

He vowed to end mass incarceration, saying "so much human potential" is lost through an incarceration rate that is the highest among major American cities.

"Today we start the long road toward trading jails, and trading death row, for schools," Krasner said.

On the campaign trail, Krasner pledged to revamp cash bail, treat addiction as an illness and mitigate prosecutions of minor cases. He seeks to reform civil asset forfeiture policies and review prior convictions to ensure wrongfully-convicted people walk free. 

Krasner also vowed to ease tensions between police and the communities they patrol, speaking of a "division between [the] uniform and the neighborhood that never had to be."

"That was based on policies that were, at least, unwise and maybe worse than that," Krasner said. "Today we start the long road toward trading division between police and the communities they serve for unity and reconciliation and cooperation."

Krasner, who supports safe injection sites, also reiterated his strategy for combatting the opioid epidemic that has rocked Philadelphia. He wants to swap punishment for increased treatment. 

"Today we start the long road toward trading jail cells occupied by people suffering from addicition for treatment and harm reduction," Krasner said. 

Krasner supplants interim D.A. Kelley Hodge, who assumed the role when Seth Williams pleaded guilty in a federal corruption case. 

Also Tuesday, Rebecca Rhynhart was sworn in as Philadelphia's controller.