District Attorney: “a lot of changes” to the criminal justice system

District Attorney Seth Williams, who was sworn in Jan. 1, told those at a town hall meeting last night that he’s planned “a lot of changes, very soon.”

And the Democrat detailed some of those changes during the 90-minute meeting at Rhawnhurst’s Pelbano Rec Center — one of several across the city.

Noting that Philadelphia leads the nation in homicides by handgun, and in the number of felony cases that get thrown out, Williams said he wants to assign assistant district attorneys in the same way crime occurs, and the way police officers are assigned: geographically.

Those is attendance

Aside from the nearly 50 Northeast residents at last night’s town hall meeting with DA Seth Williams, representatives from the following city officers were there:

Public Nuisance Task Force

Repeat Offenders Unit

Victim/Witness Services

Northeast Detectives

7th Police District

“Philadelphians are very parochial,” Williams said of residents’ pride for their neighborhoods. The DA assured the nearly 50 people in attendance that by assigning ADAs geographically, they’ll know how to pronounce the neighborhood a victim lives in. The goal, Williams explained, is to have ADAs assigned to cases in specific areas, rather than accept random court cases just hours before the actual hearing.

In this way, Williams said he wants the criminal justice system to “move toward community-based prosecution.”

Williams, who was an assistant district attorney for more than 10 years and a town watch/civic association president for another 10, said the “smart on crime” approach works better than the tradition tough on crime mentality, and that “being tough on everything ends up being tough on nothing.”

In the video below, Williams explains why the criminal justice system can benefit from the bad economy.

It’s the certainty, not the severity of the punishment, which he said changes criminal behavior.

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