New troubles with the new computer systems at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center. This time it has to do with cold hard cash. The computer system at the clerk’s offices is creating big problems for people trying to pay tickets, court fees, and fines.
Every month the Shelby County Court Clerk’s Offices collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from people in fines and fees. Since the computer problems began, collecting money has been an issue. Both in General Session’s Court and Criminal Court, it’s affecting everything from how you pay a traffic ticket, to how agencies get money.
“It’s crazy if all you got is a debit card and you can’t go get cash out,” said Zaccheus Nelson. Nelson had to use cash to pay his ticket at the General Sessions Court Clerk’s Office. Since the computer change, the online payment system hasn’t been working, so Nelson drove in from Jackson, Tennessee.
“It said it was down until November 7th, but it’s still not working,” said Nelson.
Upstairs in Criminal Court, a sign says the credit card machine is down. Lawyers tell the Local I-Team people trying to pay court cost and fees are having difficulty. Some being told to come back in two weeks.
“They are turning away people who plead guilty who don’t have an account set up yet. If you have an account set up, they can give you a hand written receipt, ” said attorney Claiborne Ferguson.
The Criminal Court Clerk told the Local I- Team the office is keeping records of who pays and how much, so when the computer system starts working properly, the records will be inputted.
The other major issue is that the clerk’s office collects hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Much of it gets passed on to other agencies, and because of the computer issues, for now, that revenue isn’t being passed on.
“I don’t see how they are going to get that system back in order if they’ve been writing receipts and they got to break up the payments to different agencies. No way,” said Ferguson. He’s not as worried about that as he is about his clients. In the end, he thinks they will be the ones who pay.
“Because of the software not working right, somewhere in the future one of my clients going to get locked up after he made these payments and doesn’t get credit for them,” said Ferguson.
A spokesperson for the Shelby County IT Department working on the computer problems says he is aware general sessions is only taking cash payments. He is still gathering information to determine if the problem is due to a data conversion problem or a data entry problem.
As for the Criminal Court Clerk’s Office, we’re told they are working on that issue as well.