Philadelphia Finally Seeking Out-of-State Refugees

Before, leaving Pennsylvania amounted to a get-out-of-jail card for Philadelphia criminals.


Lots of Philly criminals avoid prison by leaving the state

Last March, USA Today reported that accused Philadelphia criminals had a little secret to never serving time for their crimes. They simply left the state.  Why? Because the city wouldn’t use the extradition process to try to bring such people back to face trial — with the result that seven refugees from Philly justice were revealed to have killed elsewhere.

This week, the paper has followed up and found some improvements.

In Philadelphia, prosecutors reviewed thousands of the city’s old felony case files and identified hundreds of fugitives they plan to retrieve if the suspects surface in other states, a process known as extradition. Prosecutors approved extradition in at least 500 new cases, promising to seek people from other states for crimes as minor as drug possession, according to FBI records and court files.

“Philadelphia took to heart the story and realized that maybe they weren’t doing as good of a job as they could have been. So I think they’ve certainly increased their efforts,” said Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm.

USA Today reports, however, reports that Philly authorities weren’t exactly helpful in detailing the new efforts:

Philadelphia prosecutors, who are responsible for making that city’s extradition decisions, declined to answer questions about the specific steps they had taken and turned down repeated requests for interviews. The district attorney’s office filed two lawsuits against USA TODAY to prevent internal documents about those changes from becoming public. Instead, USA TODAY reviewed FBI records and more than 4.6 million pages of Philadelphia court dockets to determine how the city’s extradition practices had changed.

The paper says Pennsylvania legislators may devote more money to extradition efforts. “When you’re a victim and you know the person who committed the crime against you is roaming free because there wasn’t enough money to pick him up, that has to be traumatic,” said State Rep. Mike Regan, a former marshal.