RI residents back in court over delinquent court fees

The perpetrator was sentenced in Providence in May.

(WPRI) – Call 12 for Action followed up on a story Monday we brought you first regarding court costs coming back to haunt some Rhode Islanders.

Rhode Island courts sent out more than 250,000 letters in an effort to collect $81 million dollars in delinquent court costs.

Many recipients of these letters say they’ve already paid these fees and went to a hearing at the courthouse Monday to contest the charges.

The majority of the people we spoke with either had their charges reduced or were put on a monthly payment plan.

“I’m trying to change my life around, better myself, so I’m going to do what I have to do,” says Richard Watts, who is going to pay $30 a month until the court magistrate re-evaluates his case in a few months.

More than 50 people showed up to contest their old court charges, but many didn’t have documentation proving they had already paid.

“In 25 years, how can I prove it,” asked Stephen Davis, who spoke with Call 12 for Action outside of the courthouse following his hearing Monday.

“How can this come back 30 years later…but it did,” exclaimed Ken Richardson, who received letters saying he owes almost $4,000 in delinquent court costs from the year 1988.

Richardson’s fees were cut by almost half after his hearing Monday.

A spokesperson for the court told Call 12 for Action there’s a possibility some of the letters were sent in error.

The court also doesn’t have a count of how much money has been collected thus far, but an estimate is expected in the next couple of weeks.

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