Columbia Municipal Court to offer amnesty to some residents
COLUMBIA – The Columbia Municipal Court announced this week it will soon offer amnesty to people with outstanding warrants.
The warrant amnesty applies to those facing arrest for failing to appear for traffic tickets or other ordinance violations.
The court said the idea stemmed from wanting to keep outstanding warrants in Columbia at a reasonable level.
“We have a series of outstanding warrants and that obviously changes from time to time," Municipal Court Judge Cavanaugh Noce said. "I did notice that there had been an increase over time, as that number was growing. So I thought ‘maybe this is a good way to get people a chance to both be accountable, and also, kind of hit the reset button for them so that they can come in and we can see that number go down.”
The initiative works with local law enforcement and the city’s strategic planners to improve success for residents.
“Part of this has to do with warrants obviously cost dollars, right, there’s a set amount of dollars. And depending on your level of income, that may or may not be equitable. So by having someone have another chance to come in and basically not have that warrant be active but go back to court, makes it a little more fair,” said Noce.
Noce said he hopes the new initiative will help keep the number of warrants in Columbia at a reasonable level, stating they've been slowly increasing over the years.
“I did notice that there had been an increase over time, as that number was kind of growing, and so I thought ‘maybe this is a good way to get people a chance to both be accountable, and also, kind of hit the reset button for them so that they can come in and we can see that number go down,” said Noce.
Court officials said they hope the initiative will make the court appear more accessible to residents.
"We hope it offers some reassurance to residents that the court is here to help. People make mistakes and we want them to know they can come here safely and resolve their case," Municipal Court Administrator Dee Williams said.
The amnesty period will begin on September 25th and run until the 29th.