Baton Rouge courts have thousands of no-shows
BATON ROUGE - Thousands of people are not showing up in Baton Rouge City Court to face the music. There are 106,000 outstanding misdemeanor warrants with a potential $4 million in unpaid fees according to the City Court Clerk's office.
City Constable Reginald Brown said he requested over $500,000 in next years city-parish budget to hire five new people to help bring down the backlog.
The constable's office manually verifies outstanding warrants when Baton Rouge police pick up a suspect. But the office only operates during weekdays. After hours and on the weekends an on-call employee has to verify the misdemeanor warrants. Brown said it could take an extra hour for verification and often times police let the person go since the crimes are minor.
Brown said with five more employees his office could verify warrants 24 hours a day. Suspects would be arrested and released once fines were paid, putting a big dent in the backlog.
Metro Council member Buddy Amoroso said Brown's plan is too expensive. He wants a computerized verification system for police.
"Right now our police cars have internet capabilities, they all have notebook computers. It would be a very easy process," said Amoroso.
Brown said warrants need to be manually checked for inaccuracies or innocent people could get locked-up. It's up to the mayor's office if the constable's request will be in next years budget. That's due in November.