Commissioner addresses incarceration in collateral cases


At the weekly meetings of the Berks County commissioners, Wyomissing resident Crystal Kowalski has been sharing her concerns about individuals who are incarcerated because they cannot post collateral.

On Thursday, Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt shared research collected by his staff and Christine Sadler, the county's solicitor, concerning the issue.

He said the research focuses on two examples that Kowalski shared with the commissioners last week of individuals who were incarcerated when they were unable to post collateral after summary parking violations.

The first individual was incarcerated for five days in July after failing to pay $903.76 collateral for a ticket issued in 2016 for driving without a license, for which the individual pleaded guilty. Barnhardt said the one-time ticket went to a warrant five times for failure to appear for a payment determination. The individual also pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license in 2018 and in 2019 to driving with a suspended license, no insurance, and an unregistered vehicle.

The second individual was incarcerated for failing to pay collateral of $749.44 for a ticket issued in 2017.

"He has been cited for multiple other traffic moving violations at various MDJ (magisterial district judge) offices and other counties, including driving with a suspended license, DUI-related second offense, driving with no insurance," Barnardt said.

The individual also failed to appear for a payment determination.

"There's a lot more to it than simply looking at a sheet and saying that person was incarcerated for a ticket," Barnhardt said. "I, for one, don't want these folks driving around, putting other people at risk or harm."