Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Have a warrant? Work a deal with the courts.

Anyone with an arrest warrant for unpaid tickets or child support can have their warrant erased the first week of April, as part of an 'Amnesty Week' organized by county agencies.

Clerk of Courts Rose Lee is organizing the event along with the DA's office, Racine County Child Support, Racine Police and the Sheriff's Department. It's scheduled for April 6-9 from 10 a.m. to noon in a hearing room at the Law Enforcement Center.

"We want people to come in and work with us," Lee said.

The program is designed to help people with tickets work out a payment plan on tickets or child support in exchange for law enforcement agencies dropping their arrest warrant. Payments can be small - Lee said even $5 a week could be OK - and if someone can't pay, officials will be there to help people look for a job or offer other ways to help to get their life in order, Lee said.

People won't be arrested if they show up for amnesty week, she said.

The county has an economic interest in this, Lee said. It's expensive to throw people in jail, and while they're in jail, they're not paying the fines they owe.

But it may also help people, she said.

"If someone is pulled over for a traffic stop and they go straight to jail, that doesn't help anyone," Lee said.

While the county will promote amnesty week, it's actually not a special occasion, Lee added. Anyone who owes money on a ticket can visit the agency now and work out a payment plan without getting arrested, she said.

Another option is to pay fines through the state's Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (CCAP) website. Racine County is running a pilot program to allow people to pay fines through the site. In one month, Racine County received $9,000 in fine payments through the site, Lee said.

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