Community Service Program Launches

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Posted: 2016-9-19

Mike Hammond, is pleased to announce the launch of the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk’s Community Service Program beginning October 3, 2016.  The program, a first of its kind for the State of Tennessee, was purposefully designed to aide those Knox County citizens who are legitimately declared indigent and have entered into the criminal justice system, resulting in accumulated court fee balances.  In March 2016, the Governor of Tennessee signed Senate Bill 2032, which allowed Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond the opportunity to formulate and implement a community service program for those defendants who are truly unable to pay their court costs, yet able to perform valuable community service.  SB 2032 passed both houses of the State Legislature with overwhelming support.  Knox County Criminal Court Judges, District Attorney and Public Defender agree that this innovative pilot project offers exponential value for the communities of Knox County.  Upon successful completion of the community service program, the Knox County Judges have the authority to suspend a program participant’s court costs in lieu of full payment.  Going forward, indigent offenders, who otherwise would simply not make any payment due to financial inability, will have the option to repay their debts to society by performing needed community service through one of three approved nonprofit program partner agencies.

The Knox County Criminal Court Clerk’s Community Service Program’s approved partners include:  Knox County Engineering & Public Works – Solid Waste and Recycling Department, Knox Area Rescue Ministries and Lending Angels.  The Knox County Solid Waste and Recycling Department delivers county residents with cost-effective services while providing quality information to help Knox County taxpayers efficiently recycle and dispose of residential waste.  This department will offer the opportunity for program participants to assist with roadside clean-up efforts and beautification campaigns.  Program participants will have boundless opportunities to work directly with this essential county department on any given week; Monday through Friday, weather permitting and with minimal physical demands   The Knox Area Rescue Ministries, which is home to nearly 400 people each night and provides more than 1,000 meals daily, has served the area as a Christian ministry since 1960. KARM is devoted to rescue, recovery and restoration, providing food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, and healing for hurting people in our community. The new program recognizes that many offenders who are assessed court costs as part of their disposition may for whatever reason be unable to pay—and they are or were homeless.  A number of those owing the courts are or were receiving services from KARM. So creating a community service opportunity with KARM as a program partner is significant in benefitting both the community and the offender.  This partnership will provide a means for offenders to work off their court costs through service that will assist others in need in our community through KARM.  Lending Angels is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed by a group of East Tennessee nurses who strive to assist the community’s elderly population seeking independent living solutions so those with disabilities and older adults may stay in their homes as they age.  Lending Angels seek lending hands from those individuals who have construction, carpentry, and other specific trade skills and experience to help construct wheelchair accessible ramps, door entrance modifications, and other home repairs to improve mobility and accessibility.

An assignment to the appropriate program partner will be determined after a thorough review and information verification process.  Beginning October 3rd, the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk encourages county citizens who truly do not have the financial means to satisfy their outstanding, or newly acquired court fees, to take advantage of this new and beneficial community program.  Additional Information and required forms will be available for interested and applicable parties at the Knox County Criminal Court’s website (www.knoxcounty.org/criminalcourt/communityservice) beginning October 3rd.  Knox County Deputy Clerks on staff will be readily available to assist program applicants.

http://knoxcounty.org/criminalcourt/news/news.php?id=19