The Delaware Municipal Court held its first Second Chance Week last month in which it gave individuals a chance to settle outstanding warrants, fees and court costs.
The court announced the event last month and said that between Aug. 22-26 individuals with outstanding cases and fines could pay the total fines and costs that they owed at sentencing and the court would waive collection costs and close their cases.
Magistrate Amanda Bunner said that during Second Chance Week, payments were made in 81 cases and 36 warrant hearings were scheduled. Bunner said Second Chance Week also gave individuals a chance to seal their case records, adding six cases were sealed and hearings were scheduled in seven more cases with applications filed for 41 more cases.
Bunner said she’s pleased with the results of the event.
“For a first attempt, we think it went very well,” she said. “We collected $30,000 in unpaid fines and costs. We feel it was a giant success.
“We are currently having discussions about if we’re going to do it again. It was successful in terms of people getting the opportunity to take responsibility for those unpaid cases and get those payments made and close those cases. That’s something we definitely want to give people the opportunity to do again. We just don’t know if the model will look exactly like this or if it will turn into something else.”
Bunner said the court had anonymous comment cards available for participants, and the feedback received was mostly positive and constructive. She added one comment from an individual who resolved an outstanding warrant said, “Thank you for my second chance,” and a similar comment thanked the clerk staff and probation officer for their help in the case.
Bunner said one piece of feedback the court received is that individuals would like the event to last longer than a week.
The magistrate said she hopes to do similar events in the future to help resolve old cases.
“I’m really excited about the direction it’s taking the court in and excited to see people being actively engaged with the court on these old cases,” Bunner said. “A lot of these cases date back (more than a decade). These were things that were outstanding for a long time. Now these people aren’t looking over their shoulder anymore for law enforcement, and we’re not trying to collect on those cases anymore. All in all, I would say that is a success for everyone involved.”
During Second Chance Week, the court also had staff available from the court’s License Evaluation and Assessment Program (LEAP), which helps individuals charged with certain offenses get their driver’s license back. Bunner said seven licenses were restored during the event.