During the recent Great Texas Warrant Roundup, some Missouri City residents learned that crime—even the minor type—doesn’t pay.
In its 5th year participating in the statewide initiative, Missouri City cleared 400 warrants and netted $81,121 in cash and cash bonds. With the amount of jail time served, known as face value, the City’s roundup effort totaled more than $163,603.
“The successful Warrant Roundup program was a team endeavor,” said Cathy Haney, Director of Municipal Court Services. “It showed us what can be done with a collective approach on the part of the Police Department, Court staff, 911 Dispatch, Communications and Public Works Departments working together to make the effort a success.”
Haney also added that “our collection vendor, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, did an outstanding job notifying defendants in warrant of the statewide action.”
The program, which began Feb. 25 and lasted two weeks, targets individuals across Texas who have outstanding warrants for their arrest based upon the defendants’ failure to pay fines for traffic tickets and other misdemeanor crimes. Citizens with outstanding warrants had the opportunity to pay their fines or risk being arrested.
More than 260 law-enforcement agencies participated in this year’s roundup, according to the Texas Attorney General’s office. Monies collected from fines and fees for misdemeanors and other offenses go toward the Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund and are used to help crime victims and their families.
“The primary purpose of the fund is encouraging greater victim participation in the apprehension and prosecution of criminals and reimbursing innocent victims for certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of violent crime,” according to the Attorney General’s office.
Toni Slusser, Missouri City’s Crime Victim Liaison, said, “it’s a wonderful program to help victims in times of need.” Slusser explained that the fund helps pay for expenses such as lost wages, bereavement leave, funeral costs, medical and dental expenses. Slusser, who works in the Police Department, said in cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence, the fund pays one-time relocation and rental expenses.
The roundup program has become very well known, even amongst those in danger of getting arrested. For this reason, Missouri City Municipal Court staff is always looking for new, innovate ways to help its citizens avoid serving jail time.
One resident, Filmore Cohen, volunteered his time during the Roundup to help make a difference. Cohen, who has volunteered with the Municipal Court for more than 10 years, made friendly phone calls to people, reminding them of their outstanding fines.
“He comes to the court office on Fridays and calls defendants who have missed their court date that week,” Haney said. “Once he starts calling, our phones ring off the walls.” About 30 percent of people he speaks with end up contacting the court, she added.
Among the payments received this year was one for a case dating back to 1988.