Misdemeanor Probation Compliance Task Force Takes Aim at Warrants
Thursday, August 28, 2014
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.
The Lafayette Parish CJCC works jointly and proactively on criminal justice issues. The principal mission of the CJCC is to study the Lafayette Parish juvenile and adult criminal justice system, gather data, identify deficiencies, and propose formulated and coordinated plans for change when opportunities present themselves. The committee strives to ensure the efficient and effective management of the Lafayette Parish Criminal Justice System by proactively and collaboratively engaging in information gathering and cyclical planning that embraces evidence-based assessment and evaluation of policies, programs and practices. The goal of which is to make a coordinated planning effort in making policy recommendations on vital criminal justice system issues that positively affect our community’s safety.
The committee is the first of its kind in Louisiana and is modeled after others around the country. Members of the committee include:
Holly K. Howat, Executive Director of CJCC Sheriff Michael Neustrom, Chairperson
Major Art LeBreton, Chief Deputy, LPSO Julio Naudin, Communications Coordinator, LPSO
Rob Reardon, Director of Corrections LPSO Chief Jim Craft, Lafayette Police Department
Hon. Marilyn Castle, Criminal Court Judge, 15th JDC Louis Perret, Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court
Paul Marx, District Public Defender, 15th JDC Michael Hoffpauir, District Manager Lafayette Office of Probation & Parole
Mike Harson, District Attorney, 15th JDC Dr. Patrick Cooper, Superintendent, Lafayette Parish Schools
Dee Stanley, Chief Administrative Officer, LCG Lorrie Toups, Chief Financial Officer, LCG
Joey Durel, City-Parish President, LCG Dr. Rhonda Evans, Head of UL Criminal Justice Department
Brad Farmer, Acadiana Area Human Services District Donald Washington, Community Liaison
For more information on how the CJCC is helping making local criminal justice and law enforcement more effective and efficient Contact Holly K. Howat, Executive Director at 337.501-2355 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Julio Naudin, LPSO Communication Coordinator at 337.236.5640 or email@example.com