Bad-check amnesty part of welcome trend
Bad checks are a real problem for some local businesses, and it isn’t always easy to bring the offenders to justice. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office deserves praise for reviving a new approach to this old problem — an amnesty period for bad-check warrants. This kind of creativity has become more popular in law enforcement and the courts recently, and it can pay dividends for taxpayers.
The county’s amnesty program allows anyone with a check warrant to call a special phone number (409-835-8434) to verify that they have one outstanding. If they do, they can pay off the bad check and accumulated fees without facing additional charges. The amnesty runs until March 8.
After that, anyone with a check warrant faces the unpleasant prospect of being arrested at any time, maybe at their home, maybe on an unrelated traffic stop. It will not come at a convenient time for them, and it could cause major problems at their school or work.
Anyone with a check warrant hanging over them and who has any sense will realize they should avoid that scenario. Fortunately for them, the county is offering them a golden opportunity to do just that.
In fact, that advice applies to anyone else with an outstanding warrant for any other offense. Many of these people know they to face the risk of arrest at any time. Eventually, virtually all of them are apprehended. The wise thing to do in these cases is contact a lawyer and the police and figure out how to resolve this problem instead of letting it fester.
Amnesty programs aren’t new; they’ve been used for everything from delinquent library books to unpaid fines. But if they’re handled right — and the people being targeted are smart enough to take advantage of them — they can produce real benefits for everyone involved. In this case, the company that took the hot check gets its money, and the District Attorney’s Office can focus on more serious crimes.
Innovations like this are happening more often in our justice system — no cash bail for minor offenses, pardons for minor drug crimes, legalizing cannabis oil for certain ailments, etc. These loosely connected changes represent a welcome break from hardline policies that often didn’t work that well and cost taxpayers too much. The goal should be helping law-abiding people in the greatest way and focusing on dangerous or violent criminals. Other area counties should see if a bad-check amnesty program would help them, too.