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Philadelphia Increases Funds to Protect Crime Witnesses

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by KYW’s John Ostapkovich

The City of Philadelphia has put up $200,000 for witness protection, a move with both practical and symbolic effects.

From left: DA Seth Williams, city councilman Curtis Jones, Mayor Nutter, state sen. Anthony Williams

From left: DA Seth Williams, city councilman Curtis Jones, Mayor Nutter, state sen. Anthony Williams

City leaders have been on an anti-witness-intimidation kick for a few months now, saying that the “don’t snitch” culture combined with threats against witnesses makes it tough to administer criminal justice.

The city is now pitching in $200,000, compared to about $700,000 from the state.  While not disclosing any secrets, DA Seth Williams says the money goes far:

“People aren’t being sent to live at the Ritz-Carlton.  The majority, unfortunately, are people who are living possibly in Philadelphia Housing Authority properties, are relocated from one community to another.  And the funding only lasts for four months, and generally that’s just enough to get them into a different neighborhood to pay the first month, last month, and the security deposit.”

Williams and others hope the city’s action encourages the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to increase funding in the budget now being crafted in Harrisburg (see related story).

(Photo by KYW’s John Ostapkovich)