Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner today announced the formation of a new Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Anti-Discrimination Advisory Board (ADAB). The ADAB will audit current DAO diversion initiatives while helping to strategically initiate new diversion programs by incorporating community perspectives and lived experience into future diversion expansions.
DA Krasner also encourages community organizations that have been working to address complex social ills such as homelessness, mental illness, substance use disorder, and poverty to contact the DAO if they are interested in collaborating on new diversion initiatives: Mike.Lee@phila.gov.
"The Anti-Discrimination Advisory Board (ADAB), when fully formed, will provide unique and extremely valuable insight into how our Adult Diversion efforts can expand in ways that address systemic racism and other forms of discrimination that continue within the justice system and society, while also strengthening public safety and public health through prevention," said DA Krasner. "I look forward to the work ADAB will do, and I am grateful to Diversion Unit Supervisor Mike Lee and his team for the work they do to address some of society's most pressing problems."
Racism and other forms of bias continue to plague our criminal justice system, and diversion initiatives that seek to rehabilitate or otherwise assist adults through avenues outside of incarceration are not immune. This systemic racism often carries over into diversion programs that have eligibility restrictions for people with a criminal record.
"Everyone who works in the diversion space, DAO included, must do a better job of examining the social determinants surrounding a person's criminal behavior when determining eligibility for diversion," said Diversion Unit Supervisor Mike Lee. "As we seek to expand rehabilitative and life-stabilizing services beyond the 16 diversion programs we currently have — while always keeping public safety in mind — the ADAB will work with the Krasner administration to develop safeguards to ensure that those who would benefit from a non-criminal disposition are able to do so in appropriate circumstances. I urge organizations who have been on the ground doing the important work of strengthening their communities and helping people rebuild their lives to reach out to the DAO if they're interested in working with us to ensure a fairer and more rehabilitative justice system. We look forward to working with and learning from you."