Philly DA’s Office, 2000-2006
Assistant US Attorney, 2006-2016
Background and Policy Positions
From 2000 to 2006, Joe Khan was assistant DA under Philly’s “Deadliest DA,” Lynne Abraham. According to a Harvard report, Abraham didn’t try many death cases herself, but had her ADAs do it for her. Abraham was DA from 1991-2010, and oversaw death sentence for 108 people during her term. During the Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorney forum, Khan was unwilling to say he would categorically refuse to seek the death penalty if elected.
Khan says he wants progressive criminal justice reform, but when asked for detail, his policy views reveal only moderate reforms:
- Cash bail: individual consideration for pretrial release.
- Bad cops: create an internal caution list, have an independent review
- Mandatory minimums: can be necessary in some cases, such as child sexual abuse
- Civil asset forfeiture: doesn’t want to take anything off the table, but wants to reform it
- Deportations: flatly against it, but has prosecuted at least one person who was deported
Khan proposes using law enforcement assisted diversion to steer drug addicts out of the criminal justice system, and suggests nonviolent offenses can be charged as misdemeanors rather than felonies. He also suggests raising the Family Courts age of jurisdiction to 25.
Khan said it wouldn’t be necessary for the Philly DA to create a blanket rule to send prosecutions of local Democratic officials to state or federal prosecutors to avoid potential conflicts of interest. He did prosecute officials in Allentown and Reading for steering contracts in exchange for kickbacks. He also prosecuted the head of Harambee Institute charter school for embezzlement, and an IRS worker for extortion and tax fraud.
Endorsements and Donors
Khan won an endorsement from former PA Governor Ed Rendell, who was DA during the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in West Philly and authorized the arrest warrants for MOVE activists. Former Congressperson Allyson Schwartz also supports him – she has said, “In the most heinous crimes, I want those people to stay in jail forever. A life sentence for me would mean they never get out. Life without parole is fully acceptable to me.”
Khan received numerous large donations from various candidates for judge: John Macoretta, Rania Major, Vikki Kristiansson, Leonard Deutchman, Lawrence Bozzelli, and others.
He also received $3,000 from Marsha Perelman, the daughter-in-law of billionaire Ruth Perelman who worked in the energy industry for three decades at companies including Buckeye Pipe Line, Clearfield Energy, and Sempra Energy. Barbara Schiffrin, a Clinton fundraiser, kicked in $6,000.