Prison Radio
Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall

No city poll, political commentator, or newspaper editor will tell the public that candidate Larry Krasner won the primary elections for District Attorney, not because of billionaire George Soros’ $1.5 million check, and not because of the endorsement of Ward Leaders, although it helped a great deal. No, Krasner won the democratic primaries for D.A. because of the 5,000 Graterford prisoners’ families and their coalitions who campaigned on Krasner’s behalf in the city and turned out to vote for Krasner at the polls in the thousands.

From the beginning of the D.A.’s race, coalitions of criminal justice reform and community organizations ran by the families of prisoners, formed to influence the dialog and outcome of the D.A.’s race around reform of the D.A.’s Office and the city’s criminal justice system. Those coalitions organized town hall meetings, forums, debates, and voter registration drives throughout Philadelphia. A month before the May 16th primary elections, the coalitions conducted an impressive Get-Out-to-Vote campaign for Krasner throughout many communities of Philly. This was a political campaign waged by Philly’s much-neglected grassroots, working class people — The Left! A grassroots campaign financed all their dollars.

Also instrumental to Krasner’s primary win were the 5,000 incarcerated people at Graterford State Prison, whom in partnership with the criminal justice reform coalitions in Philly, played an absolutely crucial role by making Graterford prison one of the political campaign stops for D.A. El-Shabazz and Krasner had been invited to the prison. El-Shabazz attended an event at Graterford while Krasner’s event was cancelled.

Every prisoner has a number of family members they can mobilize. Krasner and El-Shabazz understood what the other establishment candidates for D.A. did not, that by seeking the 5,000 Graterford prisoners’ and their coalitions’ support and by adopting their D.A./criminal justice reform issues, it would garner a potential 10,000 families of prisoners’ votes and thousands of ex-felons’ votes in Philadelphia, giving the lucky candidate a huge advantage in a habitually low-voter turnout D.A.’s race. So with an emerging powerful families of prisoners voters’ bloc in Philly, numbering at least 10,000 potential voters, and with Krasner earning their support, could Krasner not win!

At the end of the primary election for DA, it was the will of the people that got Krasner the win [and] it was a broad coalition of organizations — like the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration – CADBI and 215 People’s Alliance — that are responsible for getting Krasner the win. Coalition for a Just DA also did important work to bring voters effected by mass incarceration in contact with all the candidates through a large candidate forum and candidate questionnaire.

And the fact that Larry Krasner (a renowned Civil Rights and Criminal Defense Attorney) won the Democratic primaries, is a statement by Philadelphians to city government and to the nation, that they formally reject wholesale the “America’s Deadliest D.A.” and “Law and Order” regime types Philly has been accustomed to electing as District Attorney.