Civil rights advocates including the NAACP, Voice of the Experienced (VOTE,) and GRAE, are partnering with the State of Louisiana to hold a Warrant Clinic in Lafayette on Saturday, September 26, 2020.
The clinic is an opportunity for people with outstanding misdemeanor charges to clear their warrants and reset their court dates. Participation in the clinic does not require surrender to police, and participants will NOT be arrested at the clinic.
The clinic will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Gethsemane Church of God in Christ, 701 E. Pinhook Road, Lafayette.
People interested in attending can register at graenow.com or by calling 337-414-9153.
According to a release from organizers, misdemeanor warrants are particularly harmful to poor communities and communities of color. An arrest warrant can be issued for something as simple as missing a court date, or for not paying a ticket. Often their driver’s license is automatically suspended, and fines and fees are added on top. Without a license, many working-class people are unable to get to work, take their kids to school, or register to vote. As these costs pile up, paying a ticket that might be considered by some as a minor inconvenience, grows from difficult to impossible.
“This clinic is so important to our community,” said Consuela Gaines, VOTE Chapter Organizer for Lafayette. “When people get tickets, who isn’t able to pay them off? Poor people. Then, they’re slapped with more fines and fees, their license is taken away—but these consequences make it so much harder to pay off the ticket in the first place. This is how our government punishes people for being poor. We’re thankful the state has come to the table to give people a fresh start, a clean slate.”
In 2017, New Orleans advocacy groups began a warrant clinic in partnership with the city that saw great success. 1,300 people came to the first clinic, and around 600 people had their licenses restored after seeing their fines and fees reduced. The organizers of the New Orleans clinic estimated that the city saved around $1 million because they cleared the backlog, and around $2 million of people’s fines and fees were cleared.
Anyone interested in participating in the clinic can register online at graenow.com, or by phone at 337-414-9153.