Aug 28, 2014 12:42 PM by KATC
Starting Monday September 1st, a task force from the Lafayette Parish Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) will increase the consequences for individuals not compliant with their conditions of misdemeanor probation in the 15th judicial district court.
These individuals will have their warrants placed in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. The NCIC database is a computerized index of criminal record histories and warrant information. It is available to Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies across the country. Anyone whose name is on the database is blocked from receiving federally subsidized benefits such as housing assistance, child-case assistance, and food stamps without first resolving their outstanding warrants, usually through payment of unpaid court costs and supervision fees. Currently only those with outstanding felony warrants are denied these programs in Lafayette parish.
In addition to blocking federally subsidized benefits, the process will also keep people from renewing state issued licenses, such as driver's licenses, hunting, and fishing licenses issued to persons with outstanding misdemeanor warrants, unpaid court accessed fees or restitutions. Further, individuals may have their state tax returns garnished for the unpaid court costs and other fees.
Over the summer, the task force gathered and reviewed data on individuals within the 15th judicial district misdemeanor probation. As of August 2014, over 1,000 offenders in Lafayette parish owed almost $700,000. Rachel Goldsmith, Court Services Manager at Misdemeanor Probation and member of the task force, said, "After compiling this data, we knew that we needed to work closely with the judges and law enforcement to improve our collections. This money has a direct impact on the amount of services we are able to provide to offenders to ensure that they complete all the conditions of their probation and do not re-offend."
This Misdemeanor Probation Compliance task force was brought about through the work and efforts of the CJCC. Formed by Sheriff Mike Neustrom in 2013, the CJCC seeks to improve public safety and justice in Lafayette parish by creating collaborations for criminal justice agencies to work together. The CJCC includes local law enforcement, government officials, judges and other court officials, school system administrators, and others involved directly or indirectly in the local criminal justice system. For example, through this task force, the court system, the probation system and law enforcement will be connecting information and resources to improve compliance with misdemeanor probation conditions. Holly Howat, Executive Director of the CJCC said. "This task force is a great example of the work that the criminal justice system as a whole is accomplishing through communication and sharing resources. This is just one step of a journey we are on to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system from law enforcement all the way through to probation and beyond."
Individuals with outstanding 15th judicial district misdemeanor probation warrants may pay their outstanding fines and fees at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office Collection Department at 1010 Lafayette Street and then resolve the warrant by contacting the Misdemeanor Probation Office at 111 E. Main Street with proof of payment.
If individuals are unsure of their warrant status, they may check the LPSO database at http://jades.lafayettesheriff.com:8888/ or call the 15th Judicial District Court Misdemeanor Probation Department at 337-408-3605. The JADES database provides the public information on all active warrants in Lafayette Parish (?). "Ultimately we want to resolve as many of these types of warrants as possible before individuals are incarcerated. This task force will become a model for addressing other type of warrants in the future." Said Rob Reardon, Director of Corrections at LPSO and a member of the Task Force.