Amnesty Day

District court officials are embracing the upcoming holiday, known for spreading love and warm-hearted cheer, as they gear up for the second annual Valentine’s Day amnesty program.

The amnesty program is the first offered for 2020 and will extend to anyone with failure-to-appear warrants issued by judges Chris R. Carnahan and David L. Reynolds in Conway and Faulkner County district courts.

“If someone has a failure to appear warrant, we will waive jail time and any warrant fee on Valentine’s Day,” Carnahan announced Monday. “Especially if the warrants are for traffic offenses; we just want the person to come in and address the issue.”

Amnesty opportunities began to spring up across Faulkner County last year after Conway Police Department officer Brittani Little pushed for a way to work toward clearing the every-growing list of outstanding warrants.

“The first amnesty day was last Valentine’s Day after I joined the warrants department and saw the overwhelming number of warrants (around 3,000) and wanted to reduce that number,” Little told the Log Cabin Democrat.

By waiving jail time and fees, local courts were able to clear hundreds upon hundreds of misdemeanor warrants last year.

“When we post an amnesty day, we get hundreds of phone calls and it’s a lot of work for us, but it’s worth it to clear sometimes over 100 warrants in just one day,” Little said. “Clearing the warrants not only helps the Court with open cases but also the jail that does not have to book and house these individuals. After the success with the first one we had one on April Fool’s Day then again on Halloween when we asked for canned food goods for the homeless.”

Currently, there are 2,050 outstanding misdemeanor warrants issued out of the Conway Police Department.

By clearing the warrants from the system, it helps law enforcement agencies, the court and the individuals facing jail time due to having an outstanding warrant.

“When people decide to turn themselves in it helps our department with the time and resources to get them to the jail as well as other departments around the state that run into someone with warrants from our jurisdiction. The transport from multiple hours away and time to book the person into jail saves the department a lot of time and money. In turn, if someone with a warrant decides to turn themselves in on amnesty day, they do not have to worry about paying money to a bondsman and can take care of their case the same day if they choose saving them time and money as well.”

Individuals can also get their driver’s licenses reinstated after getting FTA warrants cleared from the system.

A suspect offender’s driver’s license is immediately suspended once an FTA warrant is issued against them. The warrant also carries jail time and a fine amount.

By attending the amnesty program, those with FTA warrants will no longer have to fear going to jail if they get pulled over due to the warrant and will not have to pay the fee associated with the warrant while also getting their case back on track.

“It might not buy a diamond necklace, but l guarantee you will save enough money to take your loved one to dinner and buy them rose,” Carnahan said. “Love for Helen of Troy may have launched the Trojan War, but don’t let a minor court issue be a cause for strife in your home. There is peace of mind in not worrying about being picked up and going to jail for a minor traffic offense that allegedly happened two, three, or four years ago.”

Officials cleared 174 warrants during first-ever amnesty program on Valentine’s Day 2019.

CPD spokesman LaTresha Woodruff said it is clear officer Little is working to better the community through these programs.

“We are proud of the work officer Little has put into decreasing the number of warrants in our system,” Woodruff told the Log Cabin. “It has been beneficial to the department, but more importantly, it has helped those with warrants clear them up without having to spend time in jail.”

Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office administrators hope to put a dent in the department’s long list of outstanding warrants during the amnesty program.

FCSO currently has 1,302 outstanding misdemeanor warrants.

FCSO spokesman Erinn Stone said residents with outstanding FTA warrants should take advantage of this opportunity before it’s over.

“It’s not something someone should overlook; take full advantage of getting those warrants cleared,” she said. “The judges in district court are giving the people another chance, the past amnesty days have worked great not only for us, but Conway Police Department as well.”

It’s a win-win situation, Stone said.

The 2020 Valentine’s Day amnesty program will be up-and-running from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday at Conway District Court, located at 810 Parkway St. in downtown Conway.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks

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