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Technical Assistance Visit to the District Attorney's Office, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 18-20, 1980 - Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
50 pages
Problems related to the assumption of the charging function by the district attorney's office in Philadelphia are discussed in this technical assistance report.
In August 1980, a technical assistance team from the Criminal Prosecution Technical Assistance Project visited the district attorney's offices and examined the management and operations functions in accordance with the terms of a grant from LEAA. The evaluation focused on a wide range of problems stemming from paperwork and organizational procedures, financial management and budgeting systems, space and equipment requirements, and specialized operational programs. The basic team approach was to examine the office with reference to functional responsibilities through interviews with staff members most directly involved in the problem area. The office is staffed with over 350 employees who are assigned to 1 of 6 divisions. During 1979 the Philadelphia police made between 50,000 and 55,000 arrests, 17,000 of which were diverted out of the criminal trial system by the district attorney's office. Of 12,500 felony charges for which preliminary hearings were held, 3,500 defendants were discharged or remanded for misdemeanor trials. Of 9,000 defendants bound over for prosecution on felony charges, a high percentage were given probationary sentences. Legislation should be enacted which would mandate that police consult with the prosecutor for approval of criminal complaint filings, thus giving the prosecutor the opportunity to screen cases at the earliest possible time. This may be accomplished through passage by the Pennsylvania legislature of Section 101 A of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, passage of proposed changes in the Rules of he Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, or by Executive order by the mayor of Philadelphia. The capability is present for the prosecutor to assume this function, and with minor modifications the plan can be operational with a minimum of expense and will result in substantial long-term savings. Footnotes and appendixes presenting biographies of the investigators are included.