Teresa Carr Deni served in numerous leadership positions in the field of law prior to running for district attorney. This includes membership in the Brehon Law Society, the Justinian Society, the Pennsylvania Prison Society and the Criminal Justice Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association, where she was chairperson. For more than 20 years, Deni served as a judge in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, where she worked on almost 100,000 civil and criminal cases.
PGN: There have already been nine transgender women of color murdered across the nation this year. If elected, what will your office do to combat violence against transgender individuals in Philadelphia, specifically women of color?
TCD: [Suspects] would be prosecuted and it would possibly come under the category of a hate crime.
PGN: If elected, will you assist PGN in our ongoing efforts to settle all open-records litigation for access to Nizah Morris records?
TCD: When I am elected, I will review this case.
PGN: How would you approach racial disparities in both the charging and sentencing processes?
TCD: One of my plans has been to make sure that the office has greater diversity. One of the things I have been pointing out is that there are twice as many men as women working in the office [and] twice as many whites as minorities. I want to hire as many people as possible who are multilingual because the city is becoming so diverse and people are really at a disadvantage. There is nobody [minorities] can talk to almost immediately. They are the people I will be looking to hire in the District Attorney’s Office.
PGN: What is your position on the current immigration crackdown being led by the Trump administration? What role does the D.A.’s Office play in this process?
TCD: The most prominent role is dealing with whether or not people are held for ICE if they come into police custody. I support the mayor and the sanctuary city unless it’s a very serious crime.
PGN: In light of the bribery charges facing our current district attorney, what would you do to root out corruption within the office?
TCD: I don’t know that there is corruption within the office. First of all, he’s been accused. He hasn’t been convicted. I’m not aware of other accusations being made against anybody else in that office. You can keep your eye on things but I wouldn’t go searching for it in the sense that I think it’s rampant. There’s a lot of very good people working in that office. They shouldn’t be painted with a broad brush.
PGN: Some organizations have called for the release of data on the number of people of color convicted in Philadelphia each year. Is this something you would support?
TCD: If we’re already collecting the data, I see no reason to hide it. I’m not aware if it’s collected that way but I imagine that it is. If the information exists, I have no problem releasing it.
PGN: What is your position on cash bail?
TCD: Cash bail is keeping too many people in prison just because they don’t have the money, not because they committed a serious crime. We cannot have all of these people imprisoned for minor offenses. First of all, we cannot afford to incarcerate all of these people but, most importantly, it’s not necessary.
PGN: What is your position on the death penalty?
TCD: I think it should be reserved for the most serious cases. If an incident happened in Philadelphia like what happened in Florida with somebody shooting up a nightclub, I would go for it. Believe me.
PGN: Do you think that police violence, specifically against communities of color, is an issue in Philadelphia? If so, what would you do to combat it?
TCD: I think the situation is improving, not that it doesn’t exist. There has been some improvement in it but there’s always the rotten apple or sometimes, things get out of hand. It happens and it won’t be ignored.
PGN: The D.A.’s Office has not had an LGBT liaison since the beginning of 2015. Is this a position you would resurrect?
TCD: I would. I think it’s appropriate to have somebody in the office who is that go-to person.
PGN: Do you support the statewide LGBT nondiscrimination bill? If yes, what would you do to advance it?
TCD: Yes. I would promote it with the Pennsylvania D.A.’s Association to engender more support around the state.
PGN: Do you support the statewide hate-crimes bill? If yes, what would you do to advance this measure?
TCD: Yes. We can let our legislators know that we support it and work through Pennsylvania D.A.’s Association. I don’t think anybody in the D.A.’s Office would be against it.
PGN: Until an LGBT-inclusive hate-crimes law is adopted, what do you think can be done to better track and report hate crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity?
TCD: The District Attorney’s Office and the police should collaborate on tracking via police reports and prosecutorial investigation when this factor is suspected in any criminal activity.
PGN: Why should the LGBT community vote for you?
TCD: I have 21 years on the bench and 10 years before that as a criminal defense lawyer. I’ve been in criminal justice for over 30 years. I’ve seen all of the D.A.s who are working at that office pass through one of my courtrooms at one time or another. I have such a familiarity with all of them. I know who does their job with passion and who is going through the motions. I have a history of leadership, service and also community activism.
For more information about Teresa Carr Deni, visit deniforda2017.com.