Court Shows That People Really Do Care

[James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Sometimes you have to kill two birds with one stone when you have the chance. In Butte, Montana, that’s exactly what officials have decided to do. To help ease the growing burden of hunger during the holidays, city leaders and local courts have decided to allow people to pay their fines by bringing in food.

NBC Montana reported, “The response has been good,” said City Court Judge Jerome McCarthy. “I think that people enjoy feeling like they are contributing, particularly to the food bank this time of year. It’s been received well within the community.”

In exchange for turning in 30 cans of food to the court, you get $150 off your fine. It’s all for a good cause, as it goes straight to the Butte Emergency Food Bank. It’s a program that’s been going on here for several years, and volunteers are appreciative of the efforts.

“It’s a great program because everybody gets helped by it,” said Patty Higinbotham, a food bank volunteer and board member. “We do, of course, and the justice people, they are happy that they are doing something to help us out. And hopefully, the people that are offenders, they are happy that they are doing something with their money to help the needy of Butte.”

“They know that we’re asking for 30 cans and sometimes they bring in 60 or 90 just as a donation to the butte food bank,” said Justice Court Judge James Kilmer.

You can see the court in action here: Butte court accepting food donations instead of fines

The program can be used to pay tickets and other fines until December 21 and is allowed under a state law that lets municipalities substitute fines for charitable donations. It was reported that last year, during the same drive, those taking advantage of the policy brought over a ton of extra food than was legally required. 

Located in the southwest corner of the state, Butte was founded in 1864 “as a mining camp in the northern Rocky Mountains on the Continental Divide, Butte experienced rapid development in the late-nineteenth century, and was Montana’s first major industrial city.”

During its heyday between the 1880s and 1920s, Butte was thought to be one of the largest copper boomtowns in theentire American West. 

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  1. ALL FAMILY COURTS should do this nationwide

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