Philly DA Highlights Increased Witness Relocation Efforts, Need for More Funding

Philadelphia District Attorney's Office

PHILADELPHIA, PAPhiladelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is highlighting the sharp increase in the city’s witness relocation efforts as pandemic-related violent crime has spiked over the last year. He also praised City Council’s continued funding of this critically important program, but outlined why increased funding is needed in order to protect witnesses, co-victims, and survivors, while improving case outcomes.

Relocation funds are derived from two sources: the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, which provides funding for the entire state, and the City of Philadelphia. The DAO routinely accesses relocation funding from both sources, with each relocation costing an average of $30,000. Relocation referrals have increased by 50% since last year, and City-funded relocation referral spending jumped from $50,000 to $150,000 between 2019 and 2020 as the number of cases involving certain types of violent crime — including gun and domestic violence — climbed as a result of the pandemic. Due to the uptick in referrals, however, the city’s relocation fund — which has less stringent application requirements and more flexibility when compared to the AG’s protocols — will likely be exhausted before the end of this year.

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“My son, TeJan Jenkins, was brutally murdered in July of last year. He was only 19 years old,” said Terry Jenkins. “I benefited from access to trauma-informed services and other resources provided by the District Attorney’s Office and victim service organizations. While I’m grateful that I didn’t have to use relocation services too, I strongly encourage other families and co-victims to come forward and reach out to the DA’s Office. They’re here not only to pursue justice, but to protect and help people who have experienced crime and tragedy.”

“Relocation is critical to protecting witnesses, co-victims, and families who come forward to assist law enforcement as we seek justice for communities,” said DA Krasner. “The DAO is extremely grateful for the relocation funding wisely made available by members of City Council, many of whom contact our office personally in order to assist with referrals for some of their constituents when necessary. Unfortunately, the challenges created by the pandemic — including a rise in gun violence as well as domestic violence — mean that we have nearly exhausted this important relocation funding. I respectfully urge City Council to provide additional funding in this area so that as we navigate these continuing challenges, we are able to adequately meet the needs of residents.”

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“My heart breaks every day when I have to speak with a Domestic Violence Victim, Co-homicide survivor, and/or aggravated assault victim who is in fear for their life,” said Melany P. Nelson, Executive Director for Northwest Victim Services. “My biggest fear is that one day, while waiting to relocate someone I am serving, the unthinkable occurs and they lose their life. That’s why it’s so very important that we see increased City funding for relocation in order to protect families and survivors in the pursuit of justice.”

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