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Maura Ewing reports that the city of Philadelphia earlier this year quietly decriminalized fare evasion, joining a growing cohort of cities around the United States.
In Philadelphia, "[t]he policy change follows the lead of other city agencies that have moved toward a more rehabilitation-focused criminal justice system," according to Ewing.
Decriminalization doesn't mean that there are no consequences for evading fare in Philadelphia.
"Fare beaters caught today receive a $25 ticket, down from $300, and do not face criminal charges. Repeat offenders are granted four strikes before they are banned from SEPTA’s trains, buses and trolleys. Violating that ban constitutes a misdemeanor under the policy put into effect on Jan. 14, but the city district attorney’s office has agreed to consider these cases for diversion, offering social services in lieu of jail time."
Ewing also includes soundbites in support of the changes from from both Thomas J. Nestel, SEPTA’s chief of transit police, and Larry Krasner, Philadelphia district attorney.