The city of Philadelphia reduced the size of the local jail population by nearly half from 2015 to 2020, reflecting efforts by District Attorney Larry Krasner – a former civil rights attorney – to lower one of the highest urban incarceration rates in the country. It has been an interesting ride.
The documentary film Philly D.A. chronicles the tumult of Krasner’s crusade, after his longshot election in 2017, to end mass incarceration by changing the culture of the city’s criminal justice system from within. Bureaucrats he once denigrated were now his co-coworkers. The police he’d alienated were his rank-and-file law enforcers. Pressure came from all sides of a system resistant to reform, but an unapologetic Krasner pushed on.
The continuing saga is spotlighted in the latest online installment of the Indie Lens Pop-Up cinema initiative. Philly D.A., originally a multipart PBS series, is screened, and Krasner headlines a live-chat discussion that follows. Among those joining him are the film’s co-directors and producers, Yoni Brook and Ted Passon.
Krasner, running for reelection, takes part less than a month before Philadelphia’s May 18 primary and a Democratic challenge from former homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega, one of the 31 staffers he fired in his first week on the job. In an unusual move, the city’s Democratic City Committee has not endorsed the incumbent. Police groups are backing Vega.
RSVP to access the Indie Lens event, which is co-presented by New Mexico PBS, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.