Philadelphia has one of the most dysfunctional criminal justice systems in the country. We need to reform this office, focus on its core mission and give this office the independence to earn the trust of the people.
To this aim, I have created detailed plans to give voters a clear view of my ideas for this office . Click here to download them:
Download my Criminal Justice Reform Plan
Download my plan to Prosecute White Collar Crime
Download my plan to Reform Our Bail System
Download my Senior Protection Plan
Download my Public Safety and Reform Plan
Eliminate Cash Bail
Our cash bail system is not working. We need to implement the approach that has worked in Washington, D.C., where they have eliminated cash bail entirely and stopped discriminating based on income. In Philadelphia, only 51% of individuals who received a bail amount of $500 or less were able to post bail within three days and a full 25% of defendants charged with a misdemeanor were unable to post bail at all. If we reform the bail system, fewer people lose their jobs because they can’t afford bail and the most dangerous criminals stay behind bars.
Fix Civil Asset Forfeiture
The current civil asset forfeiture system is ripe for abuse. I have heard too many stories about Philadelphians losing their homes over small narcotics violations, even when they weren’t directly involved in a crime. I will reform civil asset forfeiture so the system is not abused, only take forfeitures over a certain value, and use a part of forfeited money on programs to rehabilitate drug users rather than prosecute them.
Strengthen Conviction Integrity
Far too many innocent people are sitting behind bars. Anthony Wright sat in prison for over 20 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Though the Pennsylvania Innocence Project finally exonerated and freed Mr. Wright, most people don’t have the benefit of pro-bono counsel. As District Attorney, I will work to create a more robust and meaningful Conviction Integrity Unit based on what has been successful in Brooklyn District Attorney’s office to examine bad convictions and fight for fairness.
Reform Low-Level Prosecutions
In Philadelphia, we devote too many resources to prosecuting and jailing low-level drug offenders — time and effort that would be better spent going after drug organizations and hardened criminals. Instead, I will implement Seattle’s LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program, which offers low-level offenders community based service in lieu of prosecution.
Streamline Juvenile Resentencing
The Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional. However, the current District Attorney’s office has dragged its feet on resentencing. I will designate more dedicated resources to move these cases through in a timely and efficient manner, so that no defendant has to languish in prison on an unconstitutional sentence.
End Illegal Stop-And-Frisk
In 2015, the ACLU found that one third of all stops and 42% of all frisks were conducted without reasonable suspicion that criminal activity had occurred. As District Attorney, I will use my influence to push to end searches conducted without probable cause.
We need to refocus our long-term priorities as an office. Currently, in pursuit of statistics, the DA’s office spends its time going after low-level offenders and minor infractions — the office needs to prioritize going after the dangerous criminals and organizations that really hurt our communities.
Improve Community Relations
We need to improve the relationship between the District Attorney’s office and the communities it serves. I will create a new deputy level position to act as a liaison with community organizations focused on criminal justice reform and public safety. Additionally, I will appoint Assistant District Attorneys to groups and neighborhoods throughout the city to make our office more accessible to everyday citizens, whether they are registering complaints or seeking counsel about problems in their neighborhood. I will strengthen town watches and empower community leaders so that we can work together to keep our neighborhoods safe.
Pursue White-Collar Crime
Right now, the District Attorney’s office doesn’t do much to combat white-collar crime. We need to go after white collar crime locally and aggressively to protect Philadelphia consumers. I will create a white-collar crime division dedicated to prosecuting instances of fraud and corporate abuse, and will work closely with state and neighboring local authorities to ensure that white-collar criminals are prosecuted held accountable for their crimes.
Fight Elder Abuse
Nearly one in ten seniors suffer from elder abuse at some point in their lives. That is unacceptable. We need to create a dedicated elder abuse hotline, increase senior awareness and education and aggressively prosecute crimes against seniors.
Combat Violent Crime
Currently, the murder clearance rate (the percentage of murder cases that are solved) in Philadelphia is 45%. We need to refocus on investigating and prosecuting violent criminals and organizations instead of targeting low-level offenders and minor infractions.
Right now, the DA’s office gets headlines for scandal. We should be getting headlines for having the best ideas and for leading the country in innovation in criminal justice.
Push for Lasting and Effective Police Reform
The overwhelming majority of Philadelphia police and law enforcement officers are dedicated professionals. We owe it to them and every other Philadelphian to hold the small minority of police officers who commit misconduct accountable. I will create a walled-off, independent unit to investigate and prosecute cases of crimes involving law enforcement officers.
Ethical challenges have distracted too much from the core mission of the District Attorney’s office. I am proposing a ban on all gifts to employees of the office, from the District Attorney on down. Moreover, I am not taking any campaign contributions from criminal defense lawyers. Perceptions of conflict of interest distract from the mission of the office and erode public trust.