The Inquirer is to be complimented for its series exploring the problems plaguing our city's criminal-justice system "Justice: Delayed, Dismissed, Denied," last Sunday). When violent criminals flout this system and terrorize our streets, we all need to be concerned and committed to repairing what is broken.
Each sector that helps administer justice in our city must take an equal role in forging a solution. The 13,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association is ready to take its place at the table and serve as a resource to help reevaluate every facet of this system.
Under such dire conditions, we need nothing less than a systematic and citywide reprioritization of how we protect our citizens.
Moreover, we need a more unified system - no more finger-pointing, but more cohesion, cooperation, and communication. As The Inquirer wrote, group meetings involving all the players and coordinated by an independent consultant have proven successful in New York City, where crime has dropped almost 76 percent since 1993 ("In Phila., the crime buck stops nowhere," Tuesday).
It is also imperative that each sector of our criminal-justice system receive the adequate funding and resources to combat the deficiencies raised in the series.
But let us not restrict finding a solution to those mired in the problem. Outside civic organizations should be included in these discussions, for correcting such a serious epidemic requires many perspectives.
We must also recognize the broader issues. In 2008, census data reported that 24 percent of Philadelphians live below the poverty line, a number 11 percent higher than the national figure. According to a study, more than 16,000 Philadelphia students dropped out of high school before their expected 2008 graduation. The crimes discussed in The Inquirer's series - rape, robbery, and assault - are often committed by those who meet one or both criteria.
There is no doubt that the criminal-justice system must do better. As we get to work, let's use this as an opportunity to address the problem at its source: the need for swift and effective communication among all divisions of the system. Only then can we truly protect citizens through a robust, rigorous, and accessible justice system; a priority that remains paramount to the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Sayde J. Ladov
Chancellor, Philadelphia Bar Association