Philadelphia

‘Trading Jails and Death Row for Schools’: Larry Krasner Is Sworn in as Philadelphia District Attorney

The longtime defense attorney vowed to "exercise power with restraint."

Larry Krasner, a longtime defense attorney with no prior prosecutorial experience, was sworn in Tuesday as Philadelphia District Attorney and immediately vowed to make reducing the city's high incarceration rate a priority.

Krasner ran on a reform platform, promising to change the system, fight corruption and battle social injustice. He said the central purpose of the District Attorney's office is "to seek justice in society."

His inauguration address emphasized social justice, characterizing his office's power "to communicate the truth and to exercise power with restraint."

He takes over for Acting District Attorney Kelley Hodge, who replaced Seth Williams. Williams resigned in June after pleading guilty to taking a bribe in exchange for legal favors and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Krasner has said he will encourage a number of reforms, including changes in bail practices that currently result in many poor people being jailed while awaiting trial and alternatives to incarceration for lower-level crimes.

Krasner has said he will target the 6 percent of criminals who commit most of the city's serious crimes, in part by spending more on proactive policing.

"We have to recognize that we can't incarcerate our way out of this. It hasn't worked for decades, and it's not going to work now," he said.

In his inauguration speech, Krasner referenced anecdotes about the effect that relying on tactics like incarceration and stop-and-frisk can have on communities.

"So today we start the long road toward trading jails and trading death row for schools," Krasner said. "... Trading division between police and the community they serve for civility and cooperation." 

Rebecca Rhynhart also made history as she became the city’s first female controller at the swearing-in ceremonies at Verizon Hall inside Philadelphia Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Her first priorities would be on auditing the city Department of Behavioral Health, the Sheriff's Office and the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

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