Craighead County District Court Judges Thomas Fowler and David Boling took office the beginning of January and since then they have been working on a better probation process for people.
Through their amnesty program, non-violent offenders can have their warrants quashed and are less likely to face jail time.
However, through the Justice Network, which is a for-profit Tennessee organization, people were charged additional fees for probation services. According to Martin Young, a local contractor, they officially closed their Jonesboro location Friday.
Fowler said now that that organization is out of the picture in Jonesboro, he and Boling are throwing out any extra fees people were charged through the Justice Network.
"There was a fee that was assessed over and above the initial probation fee," said Fowler. "So that is some of the things that I may see in my docket. I have scratched every single dime that has come before me and I will continue to do that."
With their amnesty program, people can get set back up on their fine payments and court dates without having to go to jail.
"Speaking to the Sheriff, in 30 days they have cut down on the amount of people in jail on a misdemeanor contempt of court, non-payment of fines and non-payment of public service," said Fowler. "With this program, people are not sitting in jail for these non-violent offenses taking up space and taxpayer dollars."
Since the amnesty program started Jan. 20, Boling and Fowler have served over 300 non-violent offenders and have thrown out more than 1,500 warrants.
"I don't want people to mistake our kindness for a weakness but that is not what this is at all," said Fowler. "We are still here to make sure that our community is safe, schools are safe and people are comfortable out here, but you shouldn't be afraid every time you get pulled over, 'I've got a suspended license. I am going to go to jail.'"
The last day of the amnesty program is Feb.10, 9:30 a.m. to noon, but Fowler said at the rate of the way people have been lining up at the door, they expect to help people until closing.
Fowler also said after the last day, he and Boling will evaluate the program to see if they'll do it again.
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