CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Probation Department is taking a different approach in order to collect more owed criminal monies with the launch of a Facebook page.
President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman and Judge Paul E. Cherry have instituted a new policy in an attempt to increase collections of court-ordered fines, costs and restitution in criminal cases.
The judges, along with the Adult Probation Department’s Office of Collection Division, are particularly interested in clearing the books on older cases, many of which have had no payment made for a lengthy period of time and for which the debtor’s information is not up to date.
“[On Facebook], most notably will be a listing of individuals by name, year of birth, case number and case year and any amounts of fines, costs and restitution that might be owed,” says Court Administrator F. Cortez Bell III, Esq.
The court’s list will be released to local news media, in addition to posted on Facebook. The individuals will have 30 days to contact the Collections Office to make the required payment, and if necessary, to sign a payment plan.
Bell adds: “Failure of the individual to contact the Probation Office within a certain period of time will result in a bench warrant being issued and their name being added to a warrant list.”
The warrant list will also be released to the local news media and be posted on the Probation Department’s Facebook page.
When court officials release future lists to the public, they will also include the names of those for whom there have already been bench warrants issued.
Debtors will be subject to a formula in regards to the amount to be paid up front. For example, if the amount owed is $200 or less, the full amount must be paid.
Greater amounts will be subject to an initial payment and then to a payment plan.
If you currently have or think you might have monies due to the county or are unsure if your account is paid in full, the judges ask that you stop by the Probation Office or call 814-765-2641, Ext. 2067 or Ext. 2066.
Individuals who owe restitution in their criminal case and do not have the financial means to make monthly payments will have the option of performing community service, if they qualify.
For each hour of approved community service performed, $7 will be applied to the individual’s restitution balance. The Probation Office staff can assist individuals with this option.
The judges noted that community service hours are not available to contribute towards payment of fines and costs.
The judges say they have always taken a hard stance on the collection of criminal monies. For both, the “greatest importance” is the collection of restitution in order for the victims to be “made whole.”
Their previous procedure was to schedule debtors for court and to issue warrants for those who failed to appear.
Their new policy is to attempt to collect as much of the criminal monies as possible without the issuance of warrants due to “significant overcrowding” issues at the Clearfield County Jail.
Anyone who would like to provide information on the individuals appearing on the warrant list is encouraged to call the Collections Office at 814-765-2641, Ext. 2067 or Ext. 2066.
Calls will be strictly confidential and can be made anonymously. A private message may also be sent to court officials via the Facebook page.
The page can be located by entering “Clearfield County Probation Department” in any search engine. Or you can also click here to view the page.