MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has new plans to create a more efficient court process.
The Misdemeanor Citation Consolidation strategy seeks to make things easier for the community by reducing the number of times they have to come to the Criminal Justice Complex and help avoid infractions from a forgotten court date.
Last year, more than 24,000 misdemeanor citations were issued throughout Shelby County.
Of those, about half of those offenders failed to appear for either processing or a court date.
With the current misdemeanor citation process, people have to come to 201 Poplar at least twice--once for processing and another for court.
Shelby County leaders now plan to make things more convenient.
"It sounds very simple, but it affects tens of thousands of people," judge Louis Montesi said.
The solution consolidates processing and court dates for misdemeanor citations to one day instead of two.
"Hopefully this will reduce the number of warrants being issued, avoid confusion, lessen the stress on the people who get a citation," Montesi said.
Misdemeanor citations include driving with a suspended license, shoplifting or misdemeanor drug charges.
Under the original process, people had to go to records and be identified on one day. Then another day, they had to appear for the initial court date.
"In the past, it's taken anywhere between four to seven weeks for somebody to get through the booking and processing and their first court date," Shelby County Sheriff's Office Captain Faith Hill said. "Now, with this new system it should take them approximately 30 days."
The strategy, which was announced Monday, aims to reduce the number of times people with serious offenses need to go to the Criminal Justice Center.
It will also allow law enforcement to focus on more serious offenders.
Partners in the initiative, like Brad Watkins with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, call this a common sense solution.
"You have a lot of people who are choosing between making a living and taking care of what is a minor and non-violent offense," Watkins said.
Watkins said the initiative is simple, but a step in the right direction.
Memphis police have already started implementing the new one-day misdemeanor citation. There are currently three precincts doing so.
MPD hopes to have all officers using the system by January 1.
SCSO will also begin implementing the process over the next few months.