Convicted criminals in Philadelphia owe hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, fees, and restitution to their victims, but the courts have not found a way to get them to pay up., the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia defendants are supposed to be paying out $144 million a year, court officials say. At last count, they were paying only $10 million yearly. That works out to 7 cents on the dollar.
Of the 224,000 convicted defendants on payment plans, 206,000 are behind. Almost all are months in arrears. Philadelphia’s court system trails far behind the rest of the state in getting defendants to pay up. Under a statewide rule, when the guilty make payments, court systems must first see that money goes to the state’s victim-compensation fund, and victim-services programs. The charges are modest – $35 per offender to the compensation fund and $25 to victim services. Last year, Philadelphia ranked last among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in support for the services program and was second to last for the compensation fund. “It’s been 10 years, and I’ve collected $147,” said a victim of a burglar who was ordered by a court to pay nearly $9,000. “He robbed us. He owes us this money, and he’s not paying.”