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Jackson County Justice Court temporarily reduces some fines

If you incurred traffic court fines on or after July 1, you may only have to worry about paying half of what is owed.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Jackson County Justice Court said it is offering a three-month amnesty program for court fines, addressing the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and its finacial impact on the community,

The program — which is in effect through Oct. 1 — leaves residents off the hook for paying the total of their fines, if half of the amount can be paid. Collection agency fees will not be covered by the amnesty program, but additional court fees imposed for nonpayments will be.

“In many cases, this will result in more than a 50% reduction in the total owed.” Jackson County Justice of the Peace Joe Charter said in the release.

The court will also hold a moratorium on certain traffic offenses in accordance with a senate and house bills passed during a recent special legislative session.

The court will dismiss citations that occurred between March 1 and Dec. 31 for cases involving driving without a license, failing to register or renew registration for a vehicle, failing to hold a trip permit when required, improperly displaying validating stickers, and parking unlawfully in handicap space with an expired permit.

Back in March, Charter directed clerks to allow for flexible payment plans and adopted an order giving a 20% discount for a full payment of fines until July 1. The court has extended that order to Dec. 1.

The statement also addressed the ongoing national conversation surrounding systemic racism. According to the release, the justice court is reaching out to community partners to work on diversity and inclusion and is requiring all staff take implicit bias training,

“It is past time for courts to acknowledge and face the role that justice system has played in facilitating systemic racism and criminalizing poverty,” Charter said.