Friday, January 14, 2011

Philadelphia courts go after bail scofflaws, but are they doing enough?

Did anyone see President Judge Dembe on Good Day this morning? While I am happy that someone is finally going to try to enforce bail in the city of Philadelphia; I am dismayed by the "friendly" way the judge addressed these scofflaws that now owe upwards of $1 BILLION (yes, with a B) to the City of Philadelphia. Do the math, those funds can bail the city out of it's deficit and still leave over $540 Million for the victim's and public safety fund. When Mike Jerrick flat out asked Judge Dembe if these scofflaws would go to jail, she emphatically said no; saying "do you know how much it costs to put someone in jail?"

Well how much is a strong legal deterrent or compliance mechanism worth? This is an important question. A Judge ordered bail and/or victims compensation as a criminal's condition of release. They failed to pay what they owed. Therefore, they violated their condition of release...remedy? GO BACK TO JAIL UNTIL YOU MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO PAY WHAT YOU OWE.

When asked what the court is doing to collect these funds, Judge Dembe stated that they are contracting with debt collectors. So are we, the good tax-paying citizens of Philadelphia to believe that a criminal; who obviously didn't see the need to preserve their good name enough to stay out of jail, is going to be afraid of an entry on their credit report? ENOUGH. Anyone who does not come forward to make payment arrangements should be cited for violating their conditions of release. If they do not answer the summons, a bench warrant should be issued. This is how it works in almost every other city; so what makes us any different?

Send a strong message, your honor. It's what your constituency demands.

To read the Inquirer article, please click the link below:
Philly launches aggressive push to collect court debts

No comments:

Post a Comment