Philadelphia’s criminal justice system all too often fails to punish violent criminals, fails to protect witnesses, fails to catch thousands of fugitives, fails to decide cases on their merits – fails to provide justice, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. In America’s most violent big city, people accused of serious crimes are escaping conviction with stunning regularity. Defendants walk free on all charges in nearly two-thirds of violent-crime cases. Among large urban counties, Philadelphia has the nation’s lowest felony-conviction rate.
Only one in 10 people charged with gun assaults is convicted of that charge. Only two in 10 accused armed robbers are found guilty of armed robbery. Only one in four accused rapists is found guilty of rape. People charged with assaults with a gun escape conviction more often than those who use fists or knives. Of people arrested for possession of illegal handguns, almost half go free. Nationally, prosecutors in big cities win felony convictions in half of violent-crime cases. In Philadelphia, prosecutors win only 20 percent. The Inquirer traced the outcomes of 31,000 criminal court cases filed in 2006, 2007, and 2008. The results go a long way toward explaining the violence on city streets.