PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Key justices on the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court are adopting reforms contained in an exhaustive consultant’s report designed to transform Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. It follows a series of critical articles by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Chief Justice Ron Castille assigned Justice Seamus McCaffery to review the court system and implement reforms, because of McCaffery’s past service as a police officer, municipal and superior court judge.
Justice McCaffery says while “the system was in crisis, steps have been taken to correct problems.”
“This system was cumbersome, inefficient, and often times, people felt that they did not get justice in our system.”
Among the report’s central findings over the last 18-months: cases are being resolved on their merits, minor cases are being diverted into special programs, fewer cases are being dismissed, and bail collections are up substantially.
Philadelphia’s failure to appear in court rate had been in the mid 30-percent range, and there was about $1-billion owed by defendants who had jumped bail. McCaffery says there are now more consequences for those who skip court and default on bail.
Penalties include throwing a defendant in lockup, with time spent behind bars at the discretion of the judge.
Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060