Amid criticism, Philly DA Krasner establishing crime victims advisory panel

re/Post Of WHYY Article By Tom MacDonaldApril 6, 2018Philly DA Larry Krasner announces a new Victims Advisory Committee (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philly DA Larry Krasner announces a new Victims Advisory Committee (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

As he begins his fourth month in office, Philadelphia’s district attorney has decided he will invite victims of crime to act as his advisers in an effort to make sure they are not forgotten in the legal process.

That move follows complaints from the families of crime victims who contend Krasner is being too lenient or leaving them out of the loop on important decisions.

The Victims Advisory Committee will not only empower witnesses and victims of crime, Krasner said. It will make sure they are heard as a case unfolds.

“It is a vitally important step in our process of giving voice to victims so they get the support they deserve and they need,” he said.

Krasner apologized Friday to the families of victims who feel they have been left out of important decisions his department has made in the past few months; he said “the door is open” to them.

“What victims and survivors want, at many different stages, perhaps more than anything else, is access to information,” he said. “They want to have a voice … on the cases that have affected them.”

Saying formation of the committee has been in the works since he took office in January, Krasner said its formation was not in response to criticism.

In addition to professionals from the Office of Victim and Witness Services, the committee will include Philadelphians who have lost a family member to homicide or experienced crimes of sexual abuse, domestic violence or assault. It will also representatives of area organizations who serve the victims and witnesses of crime.

These voices will give birth to enhanced services, better quality of services and most importantly provide victim advocates with the information needed to begin the healing process,” said Melany Nelson of the nonprofit Northwest Victim Services.

Krasner entered office this year with no previous prosecutorial experience, pledging to end mass incarceration in Philadelphia.