Baton Rouge City Court officials estimate about 600 outstanding warrants in the city-parish were recalled Monday, the first day of a two-week period in which the downtown City Jail will be open continuously.
City Court officials have been clearing about 400 outstanding warrants daily since June 11, when the city-parish announced the trial period, City Constable Reginald Brown said.
As of 5 p.m., 2,665 people had entered City Court on Monday, many of them waiting through rain, Brown said.
“We’re probably well over a thousand more that came today than normal,” Brown said.
City Court also collected at least $35,000 more in fines and court costs Monday than it normally collects in a single day, Brown said.
The numbers are only estimates, Brown said. City Court Administrator Lon Norris said accurate figures will not be available until after the two-week period ends June 29.
“We have a backlog of cases that have to be processed since the informal operations began last Tuesday after the public announcement,” Norris said in an email.
The two-week program is designed to clear some of the more than 164,000 outstanding warrants in the parish’s criminal justice system, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has said.
During the operation, anyone arrested in the parish with an outstanding warrant, with some exceptions, will be booked into the City Jail on St. Louis Street.
The exceptions are violent offenders, juveniles, disruptive inmates, pregnant women, anyone with special medical needs, those with a state district criminal bench warrant and anyone booked under suspicion of drunken driving.
Those booked in the City Jail during this period who do not bond out after 36 hours will be taken to Parish Prison, Gautreaux has said.
City-parish law enforcement agencies were set to perform warrant roundups Monday night, Brown said.
“Every agency in this parish will be working,” Brown said.
Anyone with questions about their outstanding warrants can call (225) 389-3889, Brown said. However, he said, outstanding warrants cannot be cleared over the phone and people must arrive at court ready to pay any fees associated with their warrants.
The jail can hold up to 150 people but usually only sees about 20 per day for temporary holding and processing, Gautreaux has said. Its doors are normally open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
City-parish law enforcement agencies performed a similar two-week operation in July 2011, which led to 772 outstanding warrants being cleared via 348 arrests and 5,131 warrants being voluntarily handled, sheriff’s spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks has said.
The Metro Council set aside $50,000 for the current operation mostly to fund personnel costs, Gautreaux has said.
The council also adopted a resolution in October urging all judges in the parish to impose a $50 warrant recall fee for anyone who misses a misdemeanor or traffic ticket court date. The fee is designed to help fund a 24-hour misdemeanor facility, the resolution says.
However, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday that state district judges have not uniformly adopted the ordinance and that the decision to impose a bench warrant recall fee will be up to each judge on a case-by-case basis.
“People should handle their tickets and their business in a timely manner because it costs us more money, time and effort,” Moore said. “Therefore, we would like to see bench warrant recall fees ordered when they’re appropriate.”