State study: Philly needs more funds to fight witness intimidation

A report by a state Senate advisory panel says Pennsylvania should give more money to Philadelphia to crack down on witness intimidation.

The committee,  made up of judges, professors, prosecutors and other experts in the judicial system, is urging more state funding for the city’s victim assistance program. The extra money would pay for witness relocation expenses — as well as hiring a team of prosecutors to help crack down on intimidation of witnesses.

Deputy Philadelphia Mayor Everett Gillison says the city is already doing its part.

“We started off first with $200,000. We then doubled it last year to $400,000,” he said Tuesday. “We recognized an issue and put the dollars up. Could we do more? Sure, we will always do more if we can.”

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The panel, which said the city courts are full of fearful witnesses and have some of the lowest conviction rates for violent crime, recommends that $400,000 be awarded annually to the city.

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