Written by Rakia Reynolds
Photography by Whitney Thomas
The first African-American district attorney in the city of Philadelphia
At 44 years old, this Philly native and former public defender is shaking things up in the district attorney’s office. He won his election with a huge margin of 75 percent and is the first black DA in Pennsylvania’s history. “There has to be a paradigm shift on what it means to be a prosecutor,” says Williams. “If you’re tough on everything, you end up being tough on nothing. The shift has to change to crime prevention; we have to address all the problems, including truancy and drugs.”
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE TV LAWYERS?
Jack McCoy on Law & Order and Eugene Young and Bobby Donnell on The Practice.
WHY PROSECUTION OVER DEFENSE?
In college, I was president of the Black Caucus, got arrested, and led marches to have the university divest from South Africa. I was accepted to Georgetown University Law School as a public-interest scholar. The majority of our folks are good people, but Pookie and Man-Man are making it bad for everybody. The DA has a lot of power and discretion to say who will be arrested and for what.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR HARDEST CASE?
Trying to persuade the public [to rethink their viewpoint of] crime and punishment.