In 2010, the city of Philadelphia launched an initiative to collect millions of dollars in outstanding court fees, supervision fees and bail judgments associated with criminal cases dating to the 1970s. The move was intended to generate much needed revenue, but people who had long since served their time were confronted by bills for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars that they’d had no idea they owed. Some are struggling to pay their mortgages or secure public benefits due to the outstanding debt; others have been threatened with jail time unless they pay.
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