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Philly DA

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    Philly DA

    (not putting this in TV as issues too broad for that)

    Anyone else been watching this? It was a fascinating 8-parter on Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, a 30-year veteran defender (think Michael Mansfield or Gareth Peirce) who gets elected as chief prosecutor of the most incarcerated city in the US.

    Several things jumped out:

    1) This was kind of like what happened in the Labour Party - a guy is elected, and the majority of the people he needs to work with him just flat out refuse; the difference is that the DA has a centre of power that means he can do his job if others don't play ball, but it just makes it harder, as opposed to near impossible.

    2) Philly's politics seem worthy of comment - they'd been electing awful Democrats for years (particularly the totally ghoulish Lynne Abraham) but why was the criminal justice system in Philly so skewed? What made the population more up for repeated 'lock em up' merchants, and why were those merchants much more robotically inhuman than other cities, seemingly?

    3) So much of this comes down to one's conception of human nature - that broadly map onto political positions: people are decent, bowed down by circumstances and need to catch a break (left progressivism), people can sometimes be decent but need the toughest of tough regimes to 'break them in' to decency (mainstream democrat) or fundamentally evil (republicans/cops). There's a wonderful moment where someone points out that people in the middle tendency have thought of themselves as the good guys, but when Krasner gets elected to bring the first tendency to bear, suddenly a bunch of people with that self-regard are shown up for what they actually are, and they really, really hate it.

    4) The fucking police union. Fuck me. McNesby looks so corpulent, like a tribute to J Edgar Hoover. How is this man not dead of a coronary?

    5) Defund the police. And whilst at it, start having educational qualification tests. Fucking hell, were so many of these guys stupid muscleheads with their paramilitary leather jackets.

    6) American city governance is so fucked. Laws passed by the state which has an electoral bias against the major metropolis, prosecutors not able to influence the police in any meaningful way, judges completely beholden only to themselves, mayors and councils doing their own thing but with eyes on the short-term prize. I mean, this split exists in most developed states but it seems utterly intractable in the US, or at least certainly does in Philly. God help Baltimore.

    7) There was an interesting case with a cop who shot a black guy in the back, who Krasner charged with murder, which judges knocked back to 3rd degree. Krasner viewed the police code which gave him carte blanche to do that as unconstitutional but seems to want to get the code ruled unconstitutional so as to make the prosecution of the cop easier. I'm all in favour of the cop going down, but felt very icky about in effect retrospectively changing the law after the fact, in essence. I can't believe someone like Krasner really thinks this makes sense or is fair, but instead is fighting the case to send a message that he will be as aggressive in prosecuting cops as previous DA were in prosecution juveniles done for smoking weed, but it is ultimately symbolic because there's no way either the State Supreme Court is going to allow the retrospective change, and the US Supreme Court certainly fucking isn't. Be interested in UA's take on this one in particular.

    I didn't know that there was a series.

    Philly as been seriously fucked up for as long as I have been alive.

    One essential issue (by no means limited to Philly) is that a "criminal justice complex" comprised of police, prosecutors, judges, prison officials and the like has been allowed to develop in a huge number of local jurisdictions (both urban and rural, both "blue" and "red") in a way that has rendered them almost completely unaccountable to the people, the voters or anyone else.

    Dismantling that system is a Herculean task.
    Last edited by ursus arctos; 23-07-2021, 00:41.


      All the problems you mention are both caused by and perpetuate racism.


        Very much so


          This series isn't being shown in Philadelphia because of the election for DA this year, but of course we have other sources of info about the subject. I will say, yes, that union is messed up. Anytime a cop is charged with something, it always ends up with the cop being reinstated to the force. The white blue-collar areas of the city may have voted Democratic but are socially conservative and increasingly Republican. The local paper eliminated comments on their articles, which I've wanted for a long time because the comments sections were dominated by racist knuckleheads criticizing Krasner and the mayor. Unfortunately, tthis type still exists on other websites and apps (e.g., Citizen).