When is the primary election?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


A district attorney is the top elected official in charge of all the prosecutors in a district, which in this case is all of Philadelphia.  The district attorney establishes policies that determine who staff prosecutors will charge with crimes, whether they seek to hold people in jail pending the outcome of their case, and how long a prison sentence to recommend for a person who pleads guilty or is convicted of a crime.  A district attorney is also often personally involved in decisions about the death penalty or whether to bring charges against police officers who injure or kill civilians. Finally, district attorneys are often seen as leaders in the law enforcement community and can have great influence over the policies of police departments and laws passed by the state legislature.

Who is running for district attorney?

Find out about the candidates and their positions. 

Why should I care about this race?

The decisions made by Philadelphia’s district attorney will have a greater impact on Philadelphia’s neighborhoods than decisions made by any state or federal officials.  A district attorney committed to solving problems and reducing incarceration can start to help repair the damage in our communities caused by overincarceration. A district attorney committed to listening to and improving the safety of Philadelphia can also stand up to federal overreach.


The ACLU is strictly a nonpartisan organization. We take no position on any of the candidates.  Our goal is to educate voters about where the district attorney candidates stand on critical issues related to mass incarceration.

Is the campaign looking for volunteers?

Yes! We are asking volunteers to sign up to host house parties to educate their friends and neighbors about the campaign. We will provide speakers who have first-hand experience with the criminal justice system. Find out more about volunteer opportunities here.

Why IS the ACLU is getting involved in an electoral election?

The ACLU has a long history of working to educate voters on where candidates and office holders stand on ACLU issues, for example, by publishing scorecards and legislator’s voting histories. Given the importance of local district attorneys, the ACLU is now committed to ensuring that voters have as much information about where district attorney candidates stand on ACLU issues as they may have long had about their state and federal representatives. However, the ACLU does not endorse any of the candidates.  Our goal is to educate voters about where the district attorney candidates stand on critical issues related to mass incarceration.

Will there be a role for formerly incarcerated people in this campaign effort?

Yes! The ACLU is committed to making sure that we hire people from directly impacted communities.  Roughly ninety percent of our field canvassers have arrest or conviction records.  We are also hiring people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system as speakers for house parties and other public events.