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  • Writer's pictureBlack Citizen

Reforming "The System" w/ DAs Chesa Boudin, Larry Krasner, and Rachael Rollins

Over the past several years a movement has swept the nation to dramatically reform the criminal justice system. Our conversation with the nation’s leading District Attorneys will touch on the historic role of prosecutors and the deep mass incarceration crisis, public policy reforms that are reimagining practices of DA’s, and the intergenerational impact of public policy changes for Black families in major cities across America.

DA’s Overview

Chesa Boudin @chesaboudin

Chesa Boudin was elected in November 2019 in San Francisco on a progressive platform centered on ending mass incarceration; protecting crime survivors; and addressing the root causes of crime. DA Boudin personally understands the impact of incarceration; both of his parents were incarcerated throughout his childhood and his father is still in prison.

DA Boudin was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated from Yale Law School. He worked as a law clerk to the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and later for the Honorable Charles Breyer on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. DA Boudin then worked as a public defender in San Francisco, where he helped lead the office’s bail reform unit.

Some of DA Boudin’s renowned policies include eliminating bail; ending racist sentencing enhancements; discouraging the police from using racist, pretextual stops; allowing victims of police violence to access victims’ compensation; providing diversion opportunities for parents in the justice system; and ensuring that cases relying solely on the word of officers with documented serious misconduct are not prosecuted.

Larry Krasner @DA_LarryKrasner

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.

Rachael Rollins @DARollins

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is the chief law enforcement official for Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, Massachusetts, and oversees an office of approximately 300 people handling approximately 35,000 new cases each year. She took office on Jan. 2, 2019, as Suffolk County’s 16th district attorney, the first woman to be elected to that position in Suffolk County history, and the first woman of color ever to serve as a Massachusetts district attorney.

In 2018, the people of Suffolk County chose District Attorney Rollins to represent them as their district attorney – and to effect meaningful, substantive reform to the criminal justice system. She pledged to pursue that mission tirelessly by reducing incarceration, correcting racial and ethnic disparities, adopting alternatives to traditional prosecution, focusing the office's limited resources on serious and violent crimes, and improving relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Among her first and most impactful initiatives, District Attorney Rollins implemented a policy of presumptively dismissing and/or diverting certain low-level misdemeanor charges. These offenses are often symptomatic not of criminal intent but of mental illness, substance use disorder, and poverty. Instead of using her limited resources to prosecute and incarcerate these offenders, District Attorney Rollins seeks to hold them accountable while providing access to services and treatment to address the underlying issues that likely led the individual to offend. This progressive approach is designed to reduce the likelihood that an individual will reoffend and improve the safety and wellbeing of impacted communities.

An attorney for 20 years with degrees from Northeastern University School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, District Attorney Rollins is also a former Governor Deval Patrick appointee to the Judicial Nominating Commission, a past president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and was elected and served a three year term on the Boston Bar Association Council. She is a recipient of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association’s Trailblazer of the Year Award, was selected as Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly Attorney of the Year in 2018, and received the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Award from the Boston Branch of the NAACP.

Celeste Trusty @thejuryroomblog

Celeste holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice from Arizona State University, a graduate certificate in Forensic Criminology from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied the social, political, racial, and environmental history of the American criminal justice system.

Prior to joining FAMM, Celeste was a long-time advocate for justice reform in Pennsylvania, organizing support networks and resources for the incarcerated, returning citizens, and their loved ones. She also operated a blog dedicated to covering justice-related issues, which provided a platform for the incarcerated to share their stories and elevate their voices. Celeste was also featured as lead researcher and assistant producer for a series arc of the Undisclosed podcast, and a volunteer for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. In her free time, she enjoys being a mom to her two incredible daughters, lifting weights, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.

About Black Citizen

Black Citizen was born out of a desire to attain justice and equality for Black people living in the Bay Area. We are a social impact startup whose mission is to create impactful change and to transform the way we react and respond to concerns facing Black communities. BC invests in community-led initiatives and small non-profit organizations that empower Black lives by harnessing the energy and urgency of today’s social justice movements to create, scale, and sustain social and economic power to advance Black lives in Bay Area communities. (@BlackCitizenCA)

About FAMM

FAMM’s mission is to create a more fair and effective justice system that respects our American values of individual accountability and dignity while keeping our communities safe. FAMM’s greatest asset has always been the stories of its members. By sharing the impact of unjust sentencing and prison policies on incarcerated individuals, their families, and their communities, FAMM has helped create urgency around the issue and made the problem feel real to the policymakers who have to be moved to make meaningful change. This two-pronged approach — public education and targeted advocacy — is core to FAMM’s success to date and will remain critical to its work as the organization expands its organizing efforts nationally

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