Court Clerk Amnesty In Southaven

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(Southaven, MS) As Shantrelle Lockhart walked into the Southaven Municipal Court building Monday, she saw a larger than normal crowd.

Most were there to take advantage of a deal that will wipe some criminal charges clean if people come in and pay their fines.

Lockhart likes the idea, ”I think it’s a good opportunity and it helps people to clear their name”.

The deal’s not for serious offenders, but everyday people with relatively minor violations of the law.

”It’s an amnesty program, so basically if you have a bench warrant, contempt of court, or violation of probation, those people that owe fines and just didn’t pay their fines,” said Lt. Mark Little of the Southaven Police Department.

The program runs just two days this year, Monday and Thursday.

This year’s amnesty got off to a good start.

When court opened Monday, there were already twelve people in line at the court clerk’s office.

Authorities say they sent out letters to about 14-hundred people this year.

Last year, the number was 1600 and they only got a response from 82 people, but the plan did collect $25,000.

For Southaven, "We’re hoping that as we do this more and more the people will realize we’re keeping our end of the bargain and you’ll walk out here without a warrant, we’ll get more response,” Little explained.

Meaning, it’s not a trap.

Pay your fines, or work out a payment plan with the judge and walk out with a clean slate.

”I would encourage everybody to do this because, it’s a good way to not have the law after you,” said Lockhart.

Folks here say it’s also a good deal to keep people out of trouble if they’re stopped, or if a potential employer’s background check turns up any old warrants.