- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Anyone with outstanding warrants for traffic violations in Baton Rouge will have the opportunity Saturday to clear the warrant, resolve the underlying fines and avoid a trip to jail.

The traffic bench warrant amnesty day will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1XDVS3M) judges will set aside bench warrants for unresolved traffic violations. They will allow defendants to pay off the original fines - and will also consider waiving traffic fees and imposing alternative sentences, including community service or reduced payments, for those unable to pay off the citations.

“Our goal is not to arrest someone who wants to come in to take care of their business,” said East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III. “If they come in, we’ll have their warrants recalled because they’ve appeared.”

If successful, Moore and other officials said, they hope to repeat the amnesty program - either at the courthouse downtown or in other parts of the city - in an effort to clear up some of the city’s massive backlog of warrants without sending offenders to jail. Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle, whose district includes the community center hosting Saturday’s amnesty event, said the program is the first time the courts have headed into neighborhoods to offer opportunities for residents to clear up violations.

“I think that we have to look at innovative ways to clear up the warrants, rather than locking people up,” Marcelle said. “We have to at least offer that opportunity.”

Officials had considered including warrants for other misdemeanor charges in Saturday’s amnesty day but ultimately chose to largely limit the program to misdemeanor traffic violations - although Moore said judges would likely work with those with additional outstanding warrants for other minor charges.

The amnesty day comes amid political jousting in parish government over how to tackle the approximately 160,000 outstanding warrants, about 60 percent of which are for traffic violations, including many repeat offenders.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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