• KYW- News At 5/6 PM
    05:00 PM - 06:30 PM

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Bar Association is exploring an effort by the court system to collect more than a billion dollars in forfeited bail and unpaid fines. A panel, today, will discuss whether the debt recovery system has been fair and effective.

It’s been nearly two years since the Court System began going after back debts, as part of a reform effort to combat chronic non-appearance by defendants in criminal cases. Since then, it’s collected nearly $5-million — far below the billion-and-a-half the court claimed it was owed but, court administrator David Wasson says, more than zero, which is what the court used to collect.

“We have a long way to go but all in all, we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made.”

The problem, says Rebecca Vallas of Community Legal Services, is that the court has over-reached, trying to collect from defendants who were in court decades ago, when record-keeping was shoddy.

“They really shouldn’t be pressuring people to pay without first making sure the debts are accurate and instead, they’re forcing half a million people, most of whom can’t afford a lawyer to prove they don’t owe the money that’s being sought from them.”

Today’s panel will seek recommendations for improving the system.

More From CBS Philly

Latest Videos
Latest Forecast

Watch & Listen LIVE