For the People: A Conversation with Larry Krasner
May 25, 2021
Larry Krasner spent 30 years learning about mass incarceration as a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia, working to get some kind of justice for his clients before deciding that the way to truly transform the broken system was to get inside of it. So he launched an unlikely campaign to become the district attorney of Philadelphia, a city with one of the highest incarceration rates in the country due to its long line of notoriously “tough on crime” DAs. Despite long odds and derisive opposition from the police union and other forces of the status quo, Krasner laid out a simple case for radical reform and won the November general election by a margin of nearly 50 percentage points.
For the People is not just a story about Krasner’s remarkable early life as a defense lawyer and his powerful, grassroots campaign; it’s also a larger exploration of how power and injustice conspired to create a carceral state unprecedented in the world. In this virtual book talk, Krasner offers an inspiring vision of how people can take back power to reform criminal justice.
Krasner joined in conversation with Angela J. Davis, distinguished professor of law at American University Washington College of Law and an expert in criminal law and procedure whose focus is prosecutorial power and racism in the criminal justice system.
This event was produced in partnership with the Brennan Center for Justice.
Angela J. Davis, Distinguished Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
Angela J. Davis, Distinguished Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, is an expert in criminal law and procedure with a specific focus on prosecutorial power and racism in the criminal justice system. Davis previously served as director of the D.C. Public Defender Service, where she began as a staff attorney representing indigent juveniles and adults. She also served as executive director of the National Rainbow Coalition and is a former law clerk of the Honorable Theodore R. Newman, the former Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Davis is the author of Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Oxford University Press 2007). She is also the editor of Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment (Penguin Random House 2017), co-editor of Criminal Law (Sage Publications 2015) (with Professor Katheryn Russell-Brown), Trial Stories (Foundation Press 2007) (with Professor Michael E. Tigar) and the 8th edition of Basic Criminal Procedure (Thomson West, forthcoming 2020) (with Professors Stephen Saltzburg and Daniel Capra). Davis' other scholarly publications include articles in the Michigan, Iowa, Fordham, and Hofstra Law Reviews. Davis won the Pauline Ruyle Moore award for Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor in 2009 and for her Fordham Law Review article, Prosecution and Race: The Power and Privilege of Discretion in 2000. Davis was awarded a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship in 2003. She won the American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award in 2015, the American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, Creative Activity, and Other Professional Contributions in 2009 and the American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment in 2002. Davis was the 2018 recipient of the D.C. Bar Thurgood Marshall Award and the 2016 recipient of the ABA Raeder-Taslitz Award.
>Davis is a member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Criminal Justice. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Frederick Douglas Jordan Scholarship Board and the Board of Directors of the Sentencing Project. Davis was a reporter for the ABA Justice Kennedy Commission and a member of the ABA Commission for Effective Criminal Sanctions. Davis also served as a member of the Advisory Board for the Vera Institute of Justice Prosecution and Racial Justice Program. She teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Justice Ethics: Prosecution and Defense, and Criminal Defense: Theory and Practice.
Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney; Author, For the People: A Story of Justice and Power
Lawrence S. Krasner was officially sworn in on January 2, 2018, as the City of Philadelphia’s 26th District Attorney. Before being elected District Attorney, Mr. Krasner served of-counsel at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt, and Flores, LLC. Larry was born in 1961 in St. Louis, the son of a World War II veteran and author father and evangelist mother. After attending public schools in St. Louis and the Philadelphia area, Larry earned degrees from the University of Chicago and Stanford Law School with the help of student loans and scholarships.
Mr. Krasner attended public school in the St. Louis and Philadelphia areas. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago in 1983 and his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1987, where he was selected to the Stanford Law Review. After multiple offers of employment in prosecutors’ and public defenders’ offices throughout the country, he worked as a public defender in Philadelphia from ’87 – ’91 and was then promoted to the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Philadelphia (’91- ’93). In 1993 he started his own private practice, specializing in criminal defense and police misconduct matters. He has remained in private practice ever since. During that time, Mr. Krasner has tried thousands of bench and jury trials in criminal and civil court in the Philadelphia area as well as other counties and states.
Throughout his 30 year career, Mr. Krasner has also proudly demonstrated a steadfast commitment to social justice, having defended protesters pro bono who were involved with movements including ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, progressive clergy with POWER, Casino-Free Philadelphia, DACA Dreamers, Decarcerate PA, anti-gun clergy with Heeding God’s Call, anti-poverty and homelessness advocates with Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Occupy Philly and Reclaim Philadelphia, and Grannies for Peace, among many others.
He has resided in Philadelphia for over 30 years with his wife of 28 years. His wife has been a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for 17 years. They have two adult sons.