On May 16th, the people of Philadelphia will go to the polls to vote for Philadelphia’s next District Attorney. Though the general election is not until November, voting patterns in the city mean that it is highly likely that whoever wins the democratic primary will win the general election. The DA has an incredible amount of power over the criminal legal system in Philadelphia, and has some influence on policy change throughout the state. That’s why Decarcerate PA is doing everything we can to push all the DA candidates to take a stand against the policies and practices that keep jails, prisons, and detention centers full.
We’ve joined with the Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorney to advance a platform of our priorities for the new DA. And Decarcerate PA has also analyzed the responses -- and records -- of the various DA candidates on the issues we care about. We’ve compiled the candidate’s positions in the above report card.
*** apologies to all the candidates, due to a spreadsheet error the original version of this reportcard showed the incorrect grades in the policing column for several of the candidates. The above card is the correct version ***
There were two main sources of information for the grades. The first was candidate responses to a survey put out by the Coalition for a Just DA. You can read the full text of the responses from Joe Khan, Larry Krasner, Rich Negrin, and Michael Untermeyer here. Teresa Carr-Deni, Tariq El-Shabazz, Jack O’Neill, and Beth Grossman all declined to fill out the survey. The second primary source for the grading was the Philly DA For the People candidate forum. You can view the entire forum online here. Rich Negrin and Beth Grossman were not in attendance at the forum.
With the exception of the “past records” section, additional sources were used only when candidates made public statements after the forum that directly contradicted the positions they stated in the forum or in the survey. We assumed this new information represented a change in their position and incorporated the new information into the grade on that question.
Each candidate’s responses to each question from the forum and the survey were scored individually in accordance with how their response would positively or negatively impact mass incarceration, detention, and policing in Philadelphia. Specifically we were looking for whether their positions were in alignment with our campaigns and demands, and those of our partner organizations and allies across the city.Then the responses were grouped into issue areas, and the scores were averaged across questions for each issue area.
Because Beth Grossman declined to fill out the survey or attend the forum, we unfortunately did not have enough information on her positions to include her in this report card.
Evaluating candidate’s records
In addition to what the candidates have told us while on the campaign trail, we also took a look at what they were doing before they decided to run for office. The “past records” grades are based on the candidate's’ actions and policies in their careers to date. More information on the candidate’s prior records can be found in “The Record Behind the Rhetoric: A Guide to the Philly DA Democratic Primary,” which was recently published by the Philly Research Group.
The primary will take place on May 16th. You can find your polling place here.
Who we are
Decarcerate PA is a grassroots organization working to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania. We are currently working on end Death By Incarceration (also known as Life Without Parole) in Pennsylvania, and abolishing cash bail in Philadelphia.
The purpose of this report card is to educate voters on the issues, and should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific candidate. No matter who wins the election, Decarcerate PA and our partners will do everything we can to hold them accountable to the promises they made on the campaign trail, and keep pushing the new DA and all our elected officials to end mass incarceration.