State of Alabama attempts to collect millions in unpaid court costs

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Nearly 800 defendants were scheduled to appear at the Madison County Courthouse Friday before Judge Karen Hall.

They were called in to pay outstanding debts, including court costs and restitution, totaling between $200 and $500 million.

Randy Hillman, Exec. Dir. of AL District Attorney's Association, said, "[The defendants] have not responded and refuse to pay them so we are going to let them talk to a judge."

Senator Arthur Orr agreed.

"We are going to hold them accountable," he said.

This hearing was part of a statewide effort to collect from those who haven't paid. Some of them have been living with these debts for years, said Hillman. He says the goal is to motivate them to pay as ordered, and hopefully improve the state's financial situation in the process.

"When you get them in front of a judge, you make it very real for them," he said. "They stand the chance of doing to jail for contempt of court for not paying, or having their probation revoked."

Hillman said these larger hearings have been going on all over the state, and this is the first of many to come.

Senator Orr said it's all about credibility.

"If they've not paid and defendants can walk out and say, 'Well, I'll never have to pay that so why bother,' then that shows a very high disrespect for the law."

Officials hope this shows Alabamians they can have confidence the courts will carry out what they order.


  • Nuclear Mike

    Bon chance on collecting any of the $$$…as it always seem the same people are in court for the same offenses with the same repetitive results…and they have no money for lawyers, food, housing, cars, gas & all the rest they are there in court for stealing…

  • soldier

    yeah lock em up. thats the way to help the states financial situation by creating more financial stress. but this is alabama. since we are one of the poorest states the way to alleviate financial stress is to bring in a lottery. i’m not saying let em go but locking people up in an already burdened justice system and an already stressed financial situation is not the way to go to bring in money. millions go to housing feeding and medicating inmates not to mention millions more going to guard salaries.

  • Juan

    re-open the prison work camps where they work 12-14 hour days and the court gets ALL their wages!! society needs to exterminate the scum!

    • Red

      Before society gets too busy trying to exterminate people, I think we should disallow idiots the ability to post comments on news blogs first. Lets call this plan, baby steps.

  • hjd

    Alabama’s justice system is one step from going back to a debtors prison. Poor people get caught in this loop and never get out. There is always another fee or fine or court cost or probation fee. Madison county jail is about as corrupt as any in the south. Please explain why inmates have to furnish their own toiletries? Why do inmates get one phone call of about 10 seconds then it costs $15 a minute to make another call? The real people hurt by all these fines are not those who are accused or convicted, it’s their famalies. The fathers, mothers, children who scrimp and save to help just to continually be hit by another fee or fine. You can say what you will as far as “they shouldn’t have raised such a bad kid”, you don’t know them or their situation. The courts worry about one thing, revenue, not justice, money, is their primary motive period. Prove me wrong if you can.

  • dustin

    OK so i am pretty sure they are looking for me as well for court costs but answer me this. a man owes $3000 in court costs and fines. he is picked up on monday with a warrant for said fines. they place a purge on him which means he must pay all of it or sit it out. by thursday if his family hasnt come up with $3000. he loses his job, has no way of making a living. now to sit out $3000 it is calculated at $25- 35 per day depending on the county he has to sit for 120 days. minimum. now please tell me how the court can justify ruining lives by taking the income completely out of the equation. GARNISH PAYCHECKS ITS THAT SIMPLE > if the state of alabama can find me to collect child support in two other states why cant they garnish my check for my court costs at $20 per week. cuz if they arrest me whos gonna pay my child support, whos gonna feed my dogs, whos gonna pack up all my belongings and put them in storage while im incarcerated over a court cost. NOBODY. and if your on state funded assistance they should make you do community service to pay that debt off. because if your locke up and lose assistance you have to go back thru all the rigamoraeu to get it back. its not the debtors who pay the debt in these situations its their families

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