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Philadelphia City Council Takes Close Look At Troubled Bail System

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council took a close look at the city’s troubled bail system on Wednesday, but key players in that system were no-shows.

Among those speaking at the Council hearing was First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann, who said bail guidelines are nearly twenty years old and woefully out of date:

“One of the things that the guidelines takes into consideration is whether the defendant has a landline (phone),” said McCann. “This is 2012, and that doesn’t have anything to do with whether the defendant is a good bail risk or not.”

And John McNesby, head of the local Fraternal Order of Police, blamed lenient judges.

“The fact is that many of the criminals carrying guns on our streets do so knowing that the criminal justice system will do little more than give them a slap on the wrist,” said McNesby.

But absent from the hearing was anyone from the First Judicial District that represents the very judges who set the bail.

Councilman Curtis Jones, who sponsored the hearing, said he wasn’t bothered by their absence.

“Not at all. I believe that we will communicate with them,” said Jones. “There are a number of opportunities and venues to move this issue forward.”

A spokesman for the First Judicial District said while the courts respect Council’s interest in Philadelphia’s bail system, the issue is part of ongoing judicial reforms being overseen by the state Supreme Court.

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