BAKER, LA (WAFB) - The City of Baker Clerk of Court is looking to cut a deal with people who skipped out on their court date or have unpaid traffic fines. The Bench Warrant Amnesty program is aimed at collecting half a million dollars in fines.
Deep inside the Baker City Court is a small room with records dating back to the turn of the century. "This is our vault with all our bench warrant files," said Clerk of Court Bridget Dawson.
Dawson says an estimated 7,100 bench warrants have not been paid. They include outstanding traffic tickets, notices to appear in court, probation, and more. City of Baker Court Judge Kirk Williams says the records won't disappear on their own.
"I started in 2009 and there was a backlog at that point," said Williams. The city is offering those defendants a chance to make good on the fines without facing the usual consequences. Depending on the violation, those who have outstanding bench warrants will be given a chance to get a new court date and discuss a repayment plan.
There are several ways defendants can pay, and it does not necessarily mean they must dip into their pockets.
"Community service is a very popular thing that we do here for the City of Baker," said Williams.
Classes that address defendants' alleged violations are also an option. Williams says there are so many ways they can clear their fines, there is no reason to not take advantage of the amnesty program.
"It certainly reduces the cost of the whole process for them, not having to post a bond, go to jail, or lose a job because they've gotten arrested," said Williams.
Defendants have until April 28 to have their bench warrants recalled. To find out if you have an outstanding warrant, call the Baker City Court at 225-778-1866.