PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court is following up on a consultant’s report to fix the ‘failure to appear in court’ rate in Philadelphia, by throwing defendants in jail.
In the Philadelphia court system, the failure to appear rate exceeds 30 percent. Stakeholders used to say prison overcrowding factored into many criminal justice decisions, but the city’s prison population has declined by 23 percent over a two-year period.
“You will be there. If you are not there, you will go to jail,” said Judge Seamus McCaffery. He added that the extra capacity should prove helpful in hauling in those defendants who fail to appear.
McCaffery also said the reforms include more trials in absentia, a trial in which the defendant was not present.
“The court shall try the individual upon notice that they were given sufficient notice of the date, time and location,” McCaffery said.
Critics say that could be unconstitutional because the 6th Amendment guarantees someone the right to confront their accusers at trial.
Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060