Jackson Co cracks down on offenders to get millions in unpaid fines

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County officials are cracking down on people who have not paid their fines to Jackson County Justice Court. There are millions of dollars in unpaid fines. The county has a plan to collect all that money.

"These fines go back to 1984, and it is up to like $6.2 million," Justice Court Administrator Donna Davis said.

Davis said her cabinets are filled with paperwork for old fines that people have ignored, forgotten about or just chosen not to pay.

"Speeding tickets, no insurance tickets, disorderly conduct, domestic violence."

Jackson County Supervisor Melton Harris admits besides notices or warrants, there really hasn't been a solid system in place in the past to make sure fines don't pile up.

"Justice Court can fine an individual. It could be a speeding ticket or whatever it could be, but there was no one going out and hunting those individuals down and saying, 'You need to pay,'" Harris said."

An outside collection firm has now been hired to track down the offenders and get the money owed to the county and state.

"Now the county has gotten real serious, and the judges, about getting this collected," Davis said.

"The fine is suppose to be a deterrent for crime. And it is no deterrent if you don't do anything, but say, 'We are going to threaten you with this, but we are not going to do anything if you don't pay this fine,'" Supervisor Harris said.

Now the delinquent tickets that have been filed away are starting to decrease. Since July, $20,000 was collected. As for the people who refuse to pay, they are now finding themselves behind bars.

"People will be getting arrested. Since Thursday, we had five of them picked up for not paying and all five went to jail.  Four paid and there is one sitting in jail right now. In fact, there are around 54 people sitting in jail that owe money," Davis said.

If you have delinquent fines, you are asked to Call the Jackson County Justice Court at (228) 769-3096.

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