Independent Lens

S22 E13 | PREVIEW

Official Trailer | Philly D.A.

His promise to use the power of the District Attorney’s office for sweeping reform is what got civil rights attorney Larry Krasner elected. Now, that stubborn idealism threatens to alienate those he needs to work with the most. Go inside the tumultuous first term of Philadelphia’s unapologetic D.A. and his team of outsiders as they attempt to change the criminal justice system from the inside.

AIRED: April 20, 2021 | 0:02:35
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TRANSCRIPT

(dramatic music)

(hammer thumping)

- [Krasner] I rejected a long time ago

that the only purpose of the criminal justice system

is to punish.

(crowd chanting)

- [Reporter] Voters in Philadelphia

have chosen a progressive as their new district attorney.

- [Reporter] The most stunning upset.

- [Reporter] Sending political shock waves

across the country.

- I am a career civil rights lawyer,

the only attorney in the history of this city

to overturn 800 convictions by corrupt police officers.

- [Reporter] Krasner's a hero to some

and a bum to others.

[Man] He's never been pro law enforcement.

- If things aren't working from the inside,

we need to bring someone from the outside.

- [Interviewer] What do you think he's trying to accomplish?

- Anarchy.

(tense music)

- At this point,

there are more people of color in prison or on parole

than in slavery at the end of the Civil War.

- [Man] Larry is bringing in criminologists, activists.

- Everything we do is steady fire, heavy resistance.

This will be controversial.

- Policies, they focus on rehabilitation and second chances

as opposed to punishment.

(siren blares briefly)

- We're in Philadelphia and there's murders and robberies.

Community services maybe not appropriate.

- This DA's office has been too close and too cozy

with the fraternal order of police.

- How corrupt do you think this city is?

- Anybody who's dealt with this office

knows there are secrets.

We need to find out where the secrets are.

(drawer clanks)

- You gotta be kidding me.

- [Man] What is it?

- [Man] Files about police officers.

(dramatic music)

- There has not been prosecution of police misconduct

by this DA's office for 30 years.

- [Reporter] Right now,

Philly police officers think the scales

are suddenly weighed down in favor of criminals.

- If you're too corrupt to testify in court,

you're too corrupt to patrol the streets (clicks tongue).

- [Interviewer] Who was DA when there were dozens of people

shot over the weekend?

- I was.

- We're tired. And we want our neighborhood back!

- You try and make the right decisions.

I'll live with the rest.

- There's a meaningless, endless cycle,

a cycle of trauma, a cycle of pain.

Some of the effects can be irreversible.

- There's no mass incarceration.

That's utterly ridiculous.

- Not one cop is going to tell you

that he's on our team.

- Well, I suggest you don't shoot unarmed people

in the back.

- The DA's office is not a place

a social experiment should be conducted.

You don't have to destroy the system

to get the results you want.

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