Philadelphia Seeks $1.2 Million in Unpaid Fines

Officials with the Philadelphia Police Department say they hope to hear soon from people who owe delinquent fines.

Starting Wednesday, the department is offering a 4-month amnesty period.

"We've got 3,000 warrants on file right now and approximately $1.2 million that's owed to the city of Philadelphia," said Police Chief Richard Sistrunk. "If you'll bring 25%, we're going to pull that warrant on you and it won't be served. You won't go to jail. You won't have to face a possible $180 contempt charge. You don't have to face possible jail time and sit there until your fine is paid in full. We're giving these folks the opportunity to get these fines straightened out."

The person who owes the money may pay the 25%, and then will be allowed to put the rest on a monthly payment schedule until it's completely paid. The money collected will be used to assist a number of city departments.

"In the service way, it's a discredit to the citizens out there that people are doing crimes and committing crimes, and they're being able to get away (with it)," said Philadelphia Mayor James Young.

Young says it's so important to collect the cash.

"That's money owed. It's not a tax increase. That's not an added burden to the law abiding citizens," Young said.

Young says the city and the state will benefit from the money collected.

"There are fees that are obligated to the state from some of these fines," he said.

Once the 4-month amnesty period is up, Sistrunk says a warrant task force will be formed to deal with the problem.

"At that point, it will be nothing but to serve warrants and bring these people back to court where they can face a contempt charge, with up to a $180 fine, plus time in jail," Sistrunk said.

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