Those violating certain laws would have the option of doing community service instead of paying a fine under bills being offered by Representative Rochelle Walton Gray (D-Black Jack). The proposals would range from people 18 and under to those of all ages.
“There are persons who simply just can’t pay their fines. No matter what, they just can’t pay it,” said Walton Gray. “It becomes a vicious cycle and very expensive for these persons who some are without employment or they are in low-paying jobs. It affords them an opportunity to pay off their debt and do something for society.”
Those violating traffic offenses like speeding and running a red light and class C misdemeanors such as littering and loitering would be eligible.
“The main purpose is to prevent incarceration. The thing is, people getting a traffic ticket and having to be put in jail, is I wouldn’t say it’s ludicrous but counterproductive,” said Walton Gray.
Under Gray’s bills, community service would only be allowed once a year.
“This does not reward, precipitate or encourage habitual violations,” said Walton Gray.
Violators must also prove that they can’t afford to pay a fine in order to qualify.
Gray says some municipalities might oppose the measures, arguing that a loss in revenue could impact budgets.
The bills also would provide defendants with job skill training, psychological, drug-related, social, or family counseling, guided inclusion in youth-directed activities and peer counseling, if necessary.