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LITTLE ROCK, Ar. (KTHV) -- Little Rock District Judge, Criminal Court, Alice Lightleannounced an Amnesty Program for people who have outstanding fines and fees in the city of Little Rock.

The Amnesty Program offers people the opportunity to pay outstanding fines and court costs without being arrested.

"I have a lot of people who come to me and tell me, when I'm in court, I'll say 'why didn't you come in and ask us for help?! Why didn't you tell us you were behind? Why didn't you ask for community service?" says Lightle.

She isissuing the amnesty program in hopes that people behind on fines can get caught up without facing even more punishment.

She says, "There are more and more courts doing this. We have had a funding crisis with the judiciary that you may be aware of and I think that a lot of judges, particularly district judges are aware that we need to be trying to collect court costs in any way."

Judge Lightle says this program is not common in Little Rock--which makes it even more special."I took office in the beginning of 2009. This is the FIRST time that we have offered an amnesty program in this court."

This is only for criminal fines--noparking ticket or other traffic violations. That's a completely separate court.

Judge Lightle says this is a win-win for everyone.

A win for the city:

"As of last year we have $406,000 that was outstanding. From one year. I would venture to guess that there's millions! If you really went and added it all up."

And it's a winfor those who participate.

Lightle says"I've had defendants tell me, 'Judge, I was scared you'd lock me up!' So this is an opportunity to come in and pay off what's owed, with no threat of being put in jail. And it allows them to get it cleaned up and put it behind them."

The amnesty program will began February 27 and run through April 30.

If you are behind on your fines or payments, you may go to the Criminal Clerks' office at the District Court Building at 600 W. Markham St.

If you owe less than $800you'll have to pay the whole amount.
More than that - you pay $800 - then set up installments for the rest. And if you're driver's license is suspended because you owe fines -- it will be reinstated once you pay but you may have to pay a fine to the State Driver Control Office.

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