Philadelphia wipes $1B in unpaid bail off books

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Court officials in Philadelphia are wiping $1 billion in debt owed by one-time fugitives off the books.

The debt involves tens of thousands of people who failed to show for court dates through March 2010.

The Philadelphia Inquirer  reports that some of the cases go back 50 years.

Officials say collection efforts will stop, and the debt will be cleared from court files.

The bookkeeping measure does not apply to court fines or restitution.

Community Legal Services has been helping hundreds of people have their bail debts erased.

Their clients include Eric Patterson, who skipped bail in 1990 but then served time in a drug case.

He now works with the homeless and disabled.

Patterson says he can use the $1,100 he owed on his house and children.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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