Philadelphia’s beleaguered fugitive squad will get assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, which plans to assign new agents to help hunt down people wanted on bench warrants for skipping court, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Court officials welcomed the help, which comes as budget woes have forced them to make deep cuts in the size of the local warrant unit.
The federal assistance comes at the request of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), asked for more marshals to help bring in Philadelphia’s massive count of 47,000 long-term court fugitives. Marshals director John Clark will expand the agency’s 48-member Philadelphia regional office by 10 marshals. As the Inquirer reported in December, Philadelphia has one of the nation’s worst fugitive problems. Efforts to track Philadelphia fugitives have been anemic. The Philadelphia Police Department has no unit solely assigned to pursue absconders from court, and the court’s own warrant unit has been drastically cut over the last year.