Cumberland County Amnesty Days to help victims of crime

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Cumberland County will host an event to give some criminals a day of amnesty.

The two-day event will be held Oct. 20-21 at the Carlisle Fire and Rescue Station. Anyone who owes the county money is asked to bring what they can. The event is also for people who have violated probation, parole, or missed a court hearing.

There will be no one at the event to make arrests. The county is focused on getting money owed to those who deserve it.

Within hundreds of files are names of roughly 10,000 people who committed crimes and never paid. That leaves the victims of those crimes, waiting for money they’re owed.

Michelle Sibert, director of Cumberland County’s Victims Unit, hears from these people a lot.

“The victims are left still having to pay, literally out of their pocket, for those damages or lost cash,” Sibert said.

In total, the county is owed $52 million in outstanding fines; $38 million of that is restitution.

“Our victims are left paying those hospital bills if they don’t have insurance,” Sibert said. “If they can’t pay those hospital bills, bills are going into collections.”

Those victims are on county leaders’ minds as they announce Amnesty Days.

“This is your chance to come in and not have to worry about getting picked up and go to jail,” said Melissa Horner, part of Cumberland County’s Collection Unit. “Come in and talk to us and we’ll hear you out, we’ll get you back on track.”

Three years ago, the county hit a 10-year low in collections rates after the recession. A special unit was created to track down those dollars, some dating back three decades.

“I hope we get a lot of the older cases and a lot of the older warrants cleaned up,” said Horner, who has been working hard over the past couple of years to track down outstanding warrants. “Basically, just to get people back on track.”

No one is excused, but they also won’t be thrown in jail. County leaders will help attendees put together a payment plan. The hope is to get money back into the hands of the county, state, and victims that deserve it.

The upcoming amnesty days are a one-time deal in Cumberland County. Carlisle Fire and Rescue is located at 177 Spring Road.

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