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Arkansas court forgiving fines in exchange for hygiene products

For every hygiene product donated, a $10 credit is given to defendants towards their court fines. They can donate up to 10 products, forgiving $100 dollars in fines.

OZARK, Ark. — The 7th Judicial State District Court in Franklin County is hosting a Hygiene Product Drive for the month of September.

The drive is allowing defendants to pay off their fines with tubes of toothpaste and other hygiene products. For every hygiene product donated, a $10 credit is given to defendants towards their court fines. They can donate up to 10 products, forgiving $100 dollars in fines. 

District Judge Sarah Capp explained that the drive was inspired by their winter can drive that brought success. 

"In Franklin and Johnson County, we have offered opportunities for defendants to submit any type of product to get credit off of their fines and costs that are hygiene in nature," said Capp. "We did that because one, it provides an opportunity for the defendants to get money off of their fines and cost, it provides financial relief for them. And then to it helps the local areas out and we're helping the churches, we're helping the schools and then nonprofit organizations."

The judge said they wanted to hold a second midyear drive that would benefit local churches, schools, and nonprofits. She says that they reached out indicating that they were in need of hygiene products.

The district judge says the clerks have seen many donations already, dealing with the defendants first-hand. 

"All of the defendants are very happy to know that they can get bring us any get fines and costs are deducted," said Chief District Court Clerk Scout Ingram. "We've had a lot of people in the community come in and donate stuff to us without having bonds and costs or adjudicated cases or our district just to help out the community and just to bring in more donations to go through to other people's sponsoring costs."

Credit: 5NEWS

"We have people that come in and they don't have the money to pay on their fines, and they're trying to get an extension or get a different review hearing," said Deputy Clerk Shae Johnson. "We tell them about this and then they're really excited. They bring them in, and sometimes they bring in extra for the others too."

The district judge also emphasized that everyone is feeling the impact of inflation, meaning many could use a little help.

"Right now, I mean, people are hurting. I mean, they fill it at the gas pump, they fill it at the grocery store," said Capp. "I know that with our defendants that come in front of us on an everyday basis, that any opportunity that they have to help them financially that we wanted to provide."

The district court says they have forgiven $17,400 in court fines. Each court has collected the following: 

  • Ozark has collected $10,170.00 off of their fines
  • Lamar has collected $400.00 off of their fines
  • Charleston has collected $4,330 off of their fines
  • Coal Hill has collected $400 off of their fines
  • Clarksville has collected $2,100 off of their fines

All hygiene products will be donated to area schools, churches, and nonprofits. The drive will end on September 28.

The court is also hosting a "turn yourself in Tuesday" on Oct. 4 for warrant amnesty. You can attend the event at 248 Airport Rd. in Ozark.

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