County cracking down on unpaid fines

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CHICKASAW COUNTY – Thousands of dollars in unpaid fines can be found on the Chickasaw County Justice Court docket and they need to be paid.

Justice Court judges have pulled 100 convictions with past due fines and will be issuing warrants this week for the arrest of the individual and demanding payment of past due fines.

“People who know me and people who have been before my court know I will work with people in paying a fine,” said Dist. 1 Justice Court Judge Garry Turner. “But these people have already been convicted and they know they owe this money.”

Turner pointed out all fines go to the county general fund and supervisors use that money to fund a variety of services.

“We’ve got people who get a ticket and come in a pay it,” said Turner. “Then we have people who get in court and promise to pay if we can work something out. I usually set up a payment plan and they pay for a month or two and stop.”

Turner said the number of unpaid fines has grown to a sizable amount.

“I can’t tell you exactly but it is thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Turner. “If we could get everyone to pay it would solve a lot of problems for the county, financially.”

Turner said the process will work like this:

• Justice Court clerks will bring a list of people owing unpaid fines. Turner said the names are pulled at random.

• A bench warrant will be issued to county constables for the person’s arrest.

• Constables and local law enforcement will look for the person for arrest.

• Person’s arrested on the bench warrant will be carried to Chickasaw County Jail to await a court date or until they pay their fines.

“What they need to realize is there will be additional court costs and fees and fines if they are arrested on this bench warrant,” said Turner. “It’s cheaper and easier if they just come in and pay the fine they currently owe.”

Turner said Justice Court will also be uploading the names of people who have unpaid fines into the county’s computer system. If a person is pulled over by a Houston, Okolona or Houlka policeman, a Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Deputy or Mississippi Highway Patrolman they will be flagged as owing an unpaid ticket.

“That officer will arrest that person and immediately carry them to jail,” said Turner. “They may just have run a stop sign, but that unpaid ticket gets them a trip to jail.”

Turner said no citation or verdict by the court ever goes away. He said they have unpaid tickets going back as far as 2004.

Turner said the county is not trying to be hard on anybody and they just want those who owe a fine to pay it off.

“We are doing this on both side of the county and in every municipality,” said Turner. “Like I said earlier, these people have already been convicted and they know they owe a fine. They need to settle this by paying up.”

Turner said anyone wanting to know the amount they owe can call the Chickasaw County Justice Court Clerk’s office at 456-2878 or 447-3402, during regular office hours.

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