Amnesty Program Could Save Time, Trouble and Money - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro -- Heather Flanigan Reports

Amnesty Program Could Save Time, Trouble and Money

September 15, 2004 – Posted at 1:20 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- Every week on Crime Stoppers we are told about those in Region 8 who are wanted by the law. Many of them have warrants for their arrest for failures to appear and non-payment of fines. One Region 8 judge is trying to clear his dockets with a program designed to help people turn themselves in and clear their name.

“This is an opportunity for everyone to get their name cleared up and not have to keep looking over their shoulder,” said Officer Jeff Vernon, Jonesboro Police Warrants Department.

And there are a lot of names to clear. Right now, there are more than 16,000 warrants on file at the Jonesboro Police Department. Municipal Court Judge Ray Spruell says he has a plan to clear those files and his docket.

“If the person turns themselves in, pays the fines in full and the underlying charges, then the contempt for non payment or failure to appear will be dismissed,” said Judge Spruell.

Many of the violators simply have traffic tickets that they've forgotten about. But a failure to remember can be costly. Turning yourself in now will only cost $50 dollars more in service fees.

“Basically, someone might have gotten a ticket for no seatbelt, simply, it's a $25 dollar fine. They forgot their court date, now it's a failure to appear, there's court costs, their license has been suspended,” said Vernon, “So from $25, now they're looking at $500-$600 in fines.”

The amnesty program allows folks to pay their fines between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at any law enforcement agency in Craighead County.

“A person has to turn themselves in to do so. Getting picked up somewhere in the off hours does not count as turning yourself in,” said Judge Spruell.

And for some, it's worth the time and trouble.

Judge Spruell said, “The person may be able to avoid jail time, bondsman fees and additional fines.” “They can save a lot of money and get themselves cleared up,” said Vernon.

Judge Spruell won’t confirm how long the amnesty program will run, however, he did say it would go until at least October 6th. If you're not sure if you have a warrant, call your local clerk's office.

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