Record number take part in warrant amnesty

Published 11:44 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

A record number of people participated in the city’s amnesty program for delinquent court fines, but collections fell far short of a $150,000 goal.

During the two-month amnesty period that ran through February and March 189 warrants were cleared and $56,623.39 was collected, Municipal Court administrator Janice Carter said.

The number represents the most warrants cleared and the second most money collected during any amnesty period offered by the city. A total of $47,807.52 was collected from 122 warrants during two months in 2011, and 2010’s amnesty period, which ran four months, yielded $57,112 from 77 warrants.

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At the halfway point of the amnesty period the city hoped to recoup at least $150,000, Carter said.

Municipal Judge Nancy Thomas said she was pleased at the record number of warrants cleared but hoped the initiative would have yielded more revenue for the city.

“I would hope that everyone would take care of their fines and avoid arrests,” Thomas said. “We’re pleased but we could always do better.”

City officials have said that they set the amnesty period to coincide with tax season hoping that once wanted offenders had a little extra cash in their pockets they would choose to take care of their fines rather than face jail time.

“I’m thankful for the ones who have taken care of it and avoided being arrested,” Thomas said.

Now delinquent offenders, whether they owe a $48 seat belt ticket or $716.50 for driving without insurance, face jail time and additional fines, Thomas said.

“You’ll probably have to bond out of jail and come back to court and could have additional fines for contempt of court and jail time depending on the circumstances,” she said.