COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Once upon a time, having outstanding fines or court costs got you a one way trip to jail.
Thanks to new legislation the tides of change are rolling.
“It’s showing that Mississippi is being progressive in the stance for criminal justice reform,” said District 41 Representative Kabir Karriem.
Karriem is talking about House Bill 387.
“It would stop individuals who have been formally incarcerated that are now out, from going back into jail because they can’t pay their fines or their restitution. Also it would set up a task force that will look at the inequities of sentencing throughout the state,” said Karriem.
Karriem co-authored the bill. He says it was a necessity to the community.
“It’s already difficult for people who have a felony on them to find employment and sometimes unfortunately because they couldn’t pay their finds or restitution they were sentenced back to being incarcerated now because of the passing of House Bill 387 they don’t have to worry,” said Karriem.
Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell says for his department, the bill creates a bit more hustle for his deputies.
“The way we understand it the judge will, after a person fail to pay, send out a show cause hearing from through the sheriff’s department. What we’ll do is serve that paper on that person asking him to appear in court,he or her to appear in court to explain to the judge why they haven’t paid their fine at that point if they don’t pay their fine then I assume a warrant for their arrest will be issued,” said Cantrell.
Which Cantrell says could have a lasting impression on the county system.
“It’s just going to be a little harder for us. It’s just going to be a little harder for the courts. All counties count on the fine money to operate the court systems, to operate the county systems. It helps fund a lot of departments like helps fund the sheriff’s department,” said Cantrell.
Cantrell says it will take a bit of getting use to, but above all the department is only interested in following the law.
“We don’t want to incarcerate any indigent person. we want to give that person the opportunity to pay his fines. we’d rather him pay his fines. We’d rather them pay their fines or lay it out in jail because we have to feed that person cloth that person make sure if he needs to go to the doctor or whatever. It would be a less expense on the county if they would pay their fines,”said Cantrell.
House Bill 387 will go into effect July 1st.