Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Amnesty deadline nears

Police chief says 16 people have taken up offer from court

December 15, 2005

Fewer than 3 percent of the more than 600 people who face arrest have accepted an amnesty offer from Lansing Municipal Court, but Police Chief Steve Wayman says he's happy nonetheless.

Earlier this month, the court offered an amnesty program to people who have outstanding warrants for failure to appear or failure to pay fines levied by the court.

In exchange for meeting the requirements of the amnesty, the court agreed to drop a $50 warrant fee from the amount due on the offender's account. The court also agreed to waive the arrest order against those named on the warrants.

The amnesty program ends at 5 p.m. today, Dec. 15.

Through Tuesday, 16 people had taken the court up on its offer, Wayman said. Though the number is relatively small, it's significant in his eyes.

"That's 16 people we haven't had before," he said. "Any we get, it helps reduce the backlog; that's 16 people off the warrant list. And it helps them out, too. They know they won't be hauled off to jail."

Wayman said Municipal Judge William Pray had decided the amnesty offer would be the best way to try to pare the mountain of outstanding warrants. Letters making the amnesty offer were mailed at the beginning of the month to more than 600 people.

Dozens of the letters were returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable because of outdated addresses for the intended recipients, Wayman said.

Despite the returned letters and the number of participants, Wayman was upbeat.

"It is a success, and we still have through Thursday," he said.

But after the amnesty deadline, scofflaws should beware, he warned. Police are planning to begin serving warrants on people for failure to appear or failure to pay fines. When those warrants are served, they carry an automatic arrest and the $50 warrant fee charged to the offender.

"Right now, we're planning to go out and serve some warrants this weekend," he said.

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