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ABOUT

We strive to protect the inalienable rights of all Philadelphians.

Making Philadelphia both safer and more just requires a different approach to our work. 

With more than 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff, we are the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania and the third largest in the nation. 

We know the safety of our city, the rights of our fellow 1.5 million citizens, and the well-being of the neighborhoods we ourselves live in are at stake.

We are guided by facts, evidence, and the law as we seek justice every day. Our prosecutors are relentless in the pursuit of justice on behalf of victims of crime and the communities we serveWe are also mindful of the impacts of our decisions on individuals, families, and communities. We engage in scientific review of case outcomes  to assess our performance, and seek to learn from prosecutors and law enforcement from around the country. 

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“I’m most proud of the culture change happening in this office…We’re setting the groundwork for arguably the most important civil rights movement of our time that must continue long after people like me are gone.”

LARRY KRASNER
District Attorney
City of Philadelphia

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ABOUT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: A COMMITMENT TO REFORM

We are focused on restoring balance to our criminal justice system, ending the era of mass incarceration, and moving beyond the false promises of overly punitive policies. 

Decades of evidence shows mass incarceration to be an ineffective and costly response to complex social problems like homelessness, mental illness, and substance use disorders—leaving communities with inadequate access to quality public education, healthcare, and housing, and the worst poverty rate of any big city.

Philadelphia can and must do better. 

We are committed to ending overly punitive practices that disproportionately affect Black people, people of color, and poor people, and in making the criminal legal system actually effective at preventing crime by addressing underlying issues and behaviors. A system that holds people accountable, enables them to show remorse and repair harm, and empowers them to live productive lives after completing their sentences or supervision ultimately makes us all safer.

DATA LAB: MEASURING JUSTICE

Accountability is for everyone, including our office. Overpolicing and overincarceration has weakened too many families and communities. We know that the certainty of consequences – not lengthy sentences – is a greater deterrent to crime. We also know that people literally age out of criminal behaviors, and that death by incarceration more often results in broken families rather than safer communities.  
  • Just 1% of juveniles sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and subsequently resentenced and released following a U.S. Supreme Court decision, went on to be convicted for a new crime. The release of juvenile lifers will yield approximately $9.5 million in correction cost savings over the first decade. 
  • Between 2018-2020, there were decreases of 15,200 years of incarceration and 64,300 years of supervision imposed, compared to 2014-2017. 
  • Since 2018, there have been no cases where the death penalty was sought.
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REFORM AGENDA: OUR PROGRESS

Since District Attorney Larry Krasner took office, we’ve accelerated reforms, making systemwide changes to our policies and procedures, including:
  • Seeking more flexibility and smarter alternatives to prosecution based on expanded eligibility requirements for defendants, including mental illness or substance addiction. 
  • When charging juveniles, stopping the practice of considering the use of a BB gun as a deadly weapon, which has reduced the number of children in detention.
  • Not charging for personal-use marijuana possession.
  • No longer charging most sex work offenses.
  • Charging for minor retail thefts as summary offenses
  • Making fewer monetary bail recommendations so that more defendants can be released on their own recognizance. 
  • Reducing the number of people supervised by Adult Probation and Parole by 8,000
  • Making Brady disclosures regarding police misconduct at preliminary arraignment

ABOUT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: strategic changes

Our reform process is designed to improve accountability and transparency across, not just our office, but the entire criminal justice system.

Integral to this is the work of the Conviction Integrity Unit’s review of past cases to ensure we, and the rest of the criminal justice system, acted appropriately.

We’ve also committed a significant number of new resources to the Special Investigations Unit to take a clear-eyed look at allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct, and how it influenced the outcomes of individual and sometimes whole groups of cases.  

Significant reform is underway to build a juvenile justice system that better serves victims, defendants and the future of Philadelphia. We’re using proven, data-driven options for holding youth accountable and increasing community safety. Reforms focus on alternative solutions that make it possible for them to lead productive, fulfilling lives, avoiding the collateral consequences and stigma of justice system involvement. 

Building and reinforcing trust with the community are key to the success of any reform agenda. So we’ve also ramped up efforts to ensure we are a familiar and consistent presence in neighborhoods citywide. We regularly participate in year-round community, civic association and police advisory meetings. We talk to fellow residents and continually brainstorm with them on what’s working and what needs to change.  

ABOUT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: GENDER EQUITY

We’ve long known that for everyone else to be treated equally to men in the criminal justice system, they need to be treated differently. 

In recent decades, the incarceration rates for women are growing twice as fast as those for men. In Pennsylvania correctional facilities, there’s been a dramatic 600% increase since the early 1980s. A top-to-bottom review is overdue.  

To ensure no one is left behind in our Office’s criminal justice reform efforts, the District Attorney appointed Judge Carolyn Temin to lead the Task Force on Women and Girls in the Criminal Justice System, laying the groundwork policies to guide the efforts of a growing coalition of partners by: 

  • Presenting policies that are woman/girl-centered to further balance the criminal justice model that remains largely male-based. 
  • Seeking to reform inequities throughout the criminal justice system, not just those tied to sentencing and incarceration.
  • Reflecting findings and recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report. 
  • Addressing additional disparities based on women’s race/ethnicity and LGBTQ identity.  
  • Advancing new thinking on girls confined in youth facilities.  
  • Insisting on evidence-based policies and programs. 
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MEASURING PROGRESS ON GENDER EQUITY

The District Attorney Office’s DATA Lab is tracking changes in:
  • The number of women in Philadelphia sent to correctional facilities.
  • Their rate of incarceration.
  • Gender differences in sentencing, diversion and recidivism.
  • Reforms in discriminatory practices in correctional facilities.