Dem D.A. candidates debate Sunday

May 8, 2009 3:42:29 PM PDT
A real battle is being waged by the Democratic candidates who want to be Philadelphia's next district attorney. The primary is a week from Tuesday and the five men looking to replace Lynne Abraham went head to head during a debate right here at 6abc.

Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on Channel 6: the showdown.

The five democrats running for District Attorney of Philadelphia will go mano a mano in our studios to discuss their approaches to fighting crime.

All are taking a hard line on what is considered the city's most serious crime problem, violence perpetrated with handguns.

Neighborhoods are flooded with all kinds of illegal guns. Pleas to Harrisburg for tougher gun laws still fall on deaf ears.

So what can be done right away?

Stricter enforce gun laws already on the books, they say.

Here's a portion of the law and order debate:

"As an immediate goal to triage the situation, district attorneys have to be told that these cases no longer get pled to probation; if you're tough enough to carry a gun in our city, you're going to our state prisons," candidate Brian Grady said.

"You need to draw a line in the sand. Anybody that gets caught carrying a gun on our streets has to go to jail, state sentence, no questions asked," candidate Dan McCaffery said.

All the candidates concede the issue is complicated, that the crackdown on gun violence has to be comprehensive.

"We have to do all that we can to prosecute more vigorously, more aggressively, those that profit off of the bloodshed; those straw purchasers, the people that pull up in schoolyards and sell guns to our children out of the trunks of cars," candidate Seth Williams said.

"The most devastating thing that we're facing is the execution of our young men and woman throughout this city; if we don't try to stop in whatever way we can with every resource, we're failing, we're failing the city," candidate Dan McElhatton said.

Philadelphia's D.A. has to prosecute roughly 75,000 crime cases each year.

Another issue on which we pressed the candidates is witness intimidation.

"If there is an instance of witness intimidation those cases need to be taken seriously, those cases need to be prosecuted; the office has to ask for the maximum sentence in those cases," candidate Michael Turner said.

The primary is May 19.

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