This 85th edition of Justice For All is an update on the fine collection program in Clayton County.
On July 1, 2015, my office began collecting delinquent criminal fines, surcharges, court costs, restitution, and any other financial obligations owing to the State of Iowa from Clayton County criminal cases. A County Attorney Payment Plan, which is often referred to as a “CAPP”, allows a defendant who is delinquent on their financial obligations to enter a payment plan with my office to repay their debt in full without the 25% penalty on any delinquent amounts that the private collectors were charging before we took over.
Defendants who agree to and stay current on a CAPP are usually able to reinstate their driver’s license which otherwise would have been suspended due to nonpayment of fines. Being current on their CAPP also allows for the renewal of a vehicle registration which is otherwise prohibited if a person is in default on financial obligations owed to the State of Iowa.
Assistant County Attorney Zach Herrmann was put in charge of running our fine collection program. I’m pleased to report that, since the program started, $239,053.86 has been collected due to Zach’s efforts. The County has been allowed to keep $81,174.06 of CAPP funds collected which otherwise would have gone to the General Fund in Des Moines. We have used this money for local projects such as replacing worn out furniture in the courthouse, refurbishing the chairs in the jury box, and installing a new screen and projector system in the courtroom. Thanks to the fine collection program, all of these improvements were made at no cost to the taxpayers of Clayton County.
As an example of how a CAPP works, one local woman owed almost $2,500 between Clayton, Allamakee, and Fayette counties. She was financially unable to pay the full amount owed or anything close to it but she was willing to make a good faith effort to do what she could. Through a CAPP with my office she was able to get her driver’s license suspension lifted immediately. After two years of monthly payments she successfully paid off the full amount and by all accounts has now turned her life around. Because she paid her financial obligations through a CAPP, the county was able to keep a significant portion of the money collected.
The fine collection program has created a number of win-win scenarios for the county and for defendants who are delinquent on debt associated with a criminal case. “CAPPs” continue to be a fantastic way to achieve justice for all.