Philadelphia, October 28, 2010: Community Prosecution in the City of Philadelphia will begin on November 1, 2010 and steps have been taken to make sure that the transition is smooth and efficient. Some of the changes at the Criminal Justice Center include:
-Staggering hearing and trial times
- Preliminary Hearings will begin at 8am
- Municipal Court trials will begin at 10am
- Common Pleas Court will begin at 9am
-Defendants will be directed to use the Filbert Street entrance
-Employees, Attorneys and Victims will be using the 13th street entrance
-Staff from the CJC and Victim Witness Coordinators from the D.A.s Office will help traffic flow by directing some people to use the stairs, victims will be sent directly to the Victim Witness waiting room, and the police will be asked to take the stairs if they are headed to the lower floors.
-Elevators will be reprogrammed to stop at certain floors and then go straight to the lobby to pick up more people, there will be no stopping in between
-Jurors will be using a direct set of elevators than the general public.
Starting next Monday all preliminary hearings will be held at the Criminal Justice Center, with lower level misdemeanor charges being heard in the remaining 5 courts outside of Center City. Those courts are located at 55th and Pine, Broad and Champlost, Red Lion, 11th and Wharton and 3901 Whitaker Avenue. In addition, the Criminal Justice Center and the District Attorney’s Office will be realigned along geographic lines.
The change to Community Prosecution was made possible by a lot of hard work and cooperation between the District Attorneys Office, Chief Justice Ronald Castille, Justice Seamus McCaffery, the Honorable Pamela Dembe, the Honorable Marsha Neifeld and countless other members of the Court.
With Community Prosecution groups of Assistant District Attorneys are assigned geographically to bureaus that are responsible for a particular area or district of the city, just like police officers are now assigned. These new bureaus are East Division, South Division, Northeast Division, Northwest Division, Southwest Division, and Central Division. Criminal cases will now be held on floors according to their division at the CJC. That way the Assistant District Attorneys, Philadelphia Police officers and detectives, witnesses and victims will all be in the same place eliminating unnecessary court delays that now happen with preliminary hearings being heard all over the city.
Community Prosecution will also build the necessary ties to the community that the District Attorney believes are essential to lowering the crime rate in Philadelphia. With Community Prosecution the assigned groups of Assistant District Attorneys get to know the community in their districts. The A.D.A.s can then work with law enforcement, residents, local officials and others to develop and implement crime reduction and crime prevention strategies. These strategies will be tailored to each community to address the issues that are of the greatest concern to its residents.