County enters contract to collect millions in old fines

Published 10:31 am Monday, April 29, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — Lincoln County Justice Court Clerk Christy Sheppard presented a contract proposal to collect old fines to the Board of Supervisors Monday morning. The board voted 4-0 to approve the contract. 

Sheppard explained the county has about $5.8 million in uncollected fines over the years. The Southern Financial System proposed a one year contract to collect on the fines. 

 “It is not going to cost us anything,” Sheppard said. “We have traffic violations, old fines and game and fish violations that are not collected. We may not get all of it but some of it is better than none.” 

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She explained people might get a ticket and tuck it away in their glove box, center console or junk drawer at home. Some people may simply forget about the ticket and others go out of their way to not pay or call the court. 

The Southern Financial System will do the “hard work,” of collections. Sheppard said her office has gone back to 2020 working to collect old fines and she simply does not have the time to serve as a collection agency. 

“They will get a percentage of the ticket fees and send us a check. We will collect what we can collect from fines over the last 20 years,” Sheppard said. “They are the investigators. We did good but I only have 5 to 10 percent of what our total uncollected fines are. Some of these tickets are outside the county.” 

District 4 Supervisor Eli Ferguson asked if there was any way to get people to pay back fines such using the suspension of a license. Sheppard explained some hunting violations result in suspended hunting licenses. 

The justice court no longer suspends driver’s licenses for unpaid fines. Mississippi stopped suspending licenses for unpaid fines and court costs according to the Department of Public Safety in 2017. Drivers licenses are still suspended for all other violations permitted under state statute such as driving under the influence. 


Old city fines

The City of Brookhaven is also working to collect old fines prior to 2022.  April 30 is the last day for people to take advantage of a 60 day amnesty period which started on March 6. The period allowed for people who owed fines to pay a discounted rate in full before the amnesty period ended. 

For more information, call the Brookhaven City Court at 601-833-6262, or visit Room 108 in the Brookhaven/Lincoln County Government Complex on South First Street.