Community service

City judge brings back community service for fines

Sept. 9 – Meridian residents with unpaid fines will have another payment option as Municipal Court Judge Dustin Markham brings back a community service credit program.

Markham said residents who choose to complete four hours of community service in a month will receive credit for that month’s payment of their city court fines.

“They can waive their payment obligation for the month,” he said.

Markham said he wanted to bring back a community service option to help residents stay out of jail and do something good for the community. Some residents, he said, simply don’t have the money to pay their fines and others prefer to work with their fines.

“I wanted to give people another opportunity to pay their fines and give back to their community,” he said.

To encourage residents to participate in community service projects, Markham said participants could wear regular clothes and not orange jumpsuits or handcuffs like inmates.

Those who choose to participate in the program, he said, will be able to do so without shame or stigma.

“They’re going to be able to dress like a regular community service band,” he said.

The community service program is open to anyone with city court fines or on an existing payment plan, Markham said.

The first day of community service is set for Saturday, September 10, with monthly dates set for the rest of the year, Markham said. The first day of community service, he said, will be in partnership with ACES (Arts & Community Events Society).

Since the program was announced, Markham said he has heard from several community organizations and city departments about projects that could be done under the community service program and welcomed other suggestions.

Between city court amnesty days, where residents can work out a payment plan to satisfy their fines, monthly payment plans and the new community service program, Markham said he hopes to provide alternatives to residents to settle their debts and avoid jail.