Of the Legal Staff
As part of reporting a story on the future of the Philadelphia Traffic Court after allegations of ticketing-fixing have become widely publicized, I learned about an upcoming program that is aiming to help ex-convicts set up payment plans for past traffic infractions in order to get their driver’s licenses restored. The full story on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court weighing the future of Traffic Court can be found here.
One new program that has its auspices from people outside of the FJD may help public perception of the court, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Glazer, administrative judge of the Traffic Court, said.
Two students from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, under the supervision of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads attorneys, including Ellen Brotman, are going to work with ex-convicts on setting up payment plans for past traffic tickets so that they can get their driver’s licenses restored.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy R. Rice of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, one of the judges presiding over a court that gives federal prisoners a break on their prison terms if they successfully complete reentry court, said the idea for the program came about because so many of the reentry court participants have past traffic infractions that built up fines while they were incarcerated.
Not having a driver’s license is the biggest impediment, besides not having a general equivalency diploma, for former defendants getting jobs, Rice said.
Many employers will hire people who have been convicted of felonies, but they need licenses in order to get to work, Rice said.
“It has the potential to be a marvelous addition and help to the system,” Glazer said.
Rice also said that, while the program will initially focus on helping reentry court participants, that the program may expand to help other defendants.
(In full disclosure, Rice is teaching a course in which the author of this blog is enrolled.)