by KYW’s Ian Bush

Philadelphia’s courts have launched a new effort to collect what could be a billion dollars in unpaid bail. 

Much like the recent tax amnesty program, this will give defendants with outstanding debts the chance to repay, even over time, without penalty:

“This is money that’s owed to the city, it is money that’s needed to keep things running.  But thought we’d start doing this ‘all us adults together’.”

Common Pleas Court president judge Pamela Dembe says it’s a good deal for the 200,000 people who owe bail money, some in arrears for 40 years.

It’ll be a financial boon to the city, but Mayor Nutter says they’d be doing this even in better economic times:

“We’re going to do what we need to do because we want our money.”

They’re working with city clergy to get the word out and support those who do come in. 

The court’s payment line is 215-683-1482.

After this campaign, debt collection firms will go on the hunt and tack on fees.

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