Meridian Star

February 16, 2013

Amnesty day coming in March

By Brian Livingston /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Just in time for those big tax refund checks, the City of Meridian and the Meridian Municipal Court system are going to hold another Amnesty Day at the court offices on Sixth Street beginning at 9 a.m. sharp on March 8.

    According to court officials, this is an excellent time for people who have outstanding warrants or fines to take care of business.

    "We are just trying to reach out to people and help them while helping the city collect some fines and clear the books from some old cases," said one official Friday. "We had a good turnout the first time we did this last year but it could have been better."

    About 50 people took advantage of the Amnesty Day last year. Officials said there were concerns by many people this was a trap of some kind concocted by police officials to try and lure in people in order to be arrested.

    Municipal court officials said that could not be further from the truth. The Amnesty Day was proposed and accepted in order to try and collect fines and to give people with outstanding warrants the chance to set the record right. If, for instance, a person has a warrant issued in their name the warrant will be recalled if the person pays at least 60 percent of what is owed to the city. A recall of an arrest warrant means the warrant would be put on hold until the matter is resolved through house arrest or paying of the fines or both.

    If someone owes jail time, that time will be converted to house arrest. Officials said by putting someone on house arrest instead of taking them to jail saves the city a great deal of money. It costs the City of Meridian $38 per day per person to house someone in the Lauderdale County Adult Detention Facility, according to court officials.

    No checks will be accepted for payment. Only cash, money orders or credit/debit cards. The line will close for this unique opportunity at 4 p.m. and officials said you must be in line by that time to see the judge.

    Court officials said Amnesty Day last year resulted in 82 days of jail time being converted to house arrest, saving the city $3,116 in housing costs. At least 26 warrants were recalled. All together, officials said $21,528 in fines was collected.