PHILLY D.A. On INDEPENDENT LENS
Stream or tune in Tuesdays, April 20 - June 1, 2021 at 9 p.m. on KPBS
Friday, April 16, 2021
Credit: Courtesy of Photography by Ryan Collerd. Composition by Tynell Marcelline
PHILLY D.A. is a multi-part series that details the dramatic work inside the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as he and his team work to end mass incarceration and transform the criminal justice system from the inside.
In 2017, Krasner, a civil rights attorney who sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times throughout his career, mounted a longshot campaign supported by activists and organizers, and ultimately won the District Attorney’s seat in a city that has the highest incarceration rate of any large city in the United States.
PHILLY D.A. brings viewers inside the emotional, high-stakes work that Krasner and an ensemble of idealistic outsiders from different walks of life take on as they attempt a fundamental overhaul of an expansive, entrenched criminal justice system.
The series follows Krasner’s team undertaking this so-called “social experiment” as they push reforms such as prosecuting police misconduct and brutality, rethinking sentencing, probation and parole reform, minimizing the use of cash bail and ending pursuit of the death penalty.
“The District Attorney has arguably more power over the lives of everyday Americans than any other elected official, but its offices are known as the ‘black box of the criminal justice system,’” said filmmakers Ted Passon and Yoni Brook. “Through PHILLY D.A., we are able to bring the public behind the scenes of this pivotal and often opaque institution, and to create a 360-degree portrait of our city in the midst of change. We’re thrilled to show the series to audiences for the first time at Sundance.”
Verité documentary filmmakers Passon and Brook gained wide-ranging access inside the prosecutor’s office, carrying viewers along for the legal and political twists and turns that Krasner and his team face on their mission of change as they encounter political opposition, a stultifying bureaucracy, and a skeptical public.
Embedded with Krasner’s 2017 election campaign and filmed over the course of three years, the storylines move back and forth from inside the office into the lives of people who are directly impacted by the decisions made there, including those currently incarcerated, and victims of crime.
Through real-time interviews with Krasner, his team, and those who disagree with his approach, including prosecutors in his own district attorney’s office, sitting judges, victims of crime, and law enforcement officials, PHILLY D.A. captures a never-before-seen, in-depth look inside the justice system as an old and new guard clash.
Over the course of the series, PHILLY D.A. pulls back the curtain on heated meetings, consequential decision-making, and personal moments as key figures grapple with solutions to social issues that are pressing and topical, including police brutality, the opioid crisis, gun violence and mass incarceration.
As the movement for criminal justice reform sweeps the nation, electing reform- minded prosecutors in cities like Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles, Philadelphia serves as a tale that is both cautionary and inspiring.
Episode 1 airs Tuesday, April 20 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + repeats Thursday, May 6 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2 - Civil rights champion Larry Krasner defies precedent with a landslide win to become Philadelphia’s District Attorney. Pledging sweeping reform, he ousts resistant staff. His team uncovers a secret that shakes the police department.
Episode 2 airs Thursday, May 13 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2 - Krasner’s team battles to obtain the complete police misconduct files as an angry public demands the District Attorney release the names of officers deemed unfit to testify in court. Meanwhile, tensions boil over juvenile sentencing.
Episode 3 airs Tuesday, April 27 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - Candidate Krasner pledged never to seek the death penalty, but the murder of a police sergeant tests the D.A.'s resolve. Lives hang in the balance of the D.A.'s biggest decision yet -- along with his credibility.
Episode 4 airs Tuesday, May 4 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + repeats Thursday, May 27 at 9 p.m. KPBS 2 - LaTonya "T" Myers lands her dream job fighting for probation reform, but any slip-up could send her back to prison. At the same time, the D.A.'s team pursues systemic probation reform, facing off against judges who embrace extended supervision.
Episode 5 airs Tuesday, May 11 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - Joseph Chamberlain dreams of freedom, but first he must convince a skeptical parole board -- and lay down his pride. A murder spike has local media pointing fingers at Krasner and threatens to halt the D.A.'s office's plans for parole reform.
Episode 6 airs Tuesday, May 18 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - A councilmember bridges fed-up constituents plagued by the opioid crisis with the D.A.'s unorthodox plans. The D.A. favors safe injection sites. Locals are fed up. Will Krasner's brassy style backfire and undermine community support?
Episode 7 airs Tuesday, May 25 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - When an on-duty officer shoots and kills a disarmed Black man as he’s running away, Krasner must decide whether to pursue a rarity -- murder charges against a cop. The police union plans to put Krasner on trial in the court of public opinion.
Episode 8 airs Tuesday, June 1 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - Krasner recruits law students to join the next generation of prosecutors leading reform from within. Activists who campaigned for Krasner’s election warn him of consequences if he doesn’t accelerate plans to phase out cash bail.
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A production of the Department of Motion Pictures and All Ages Productions, and is a co- production of Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting in association with PBS and Topic.
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