Fugitive Safe Surrender Program
- Started in
Cleveland - to be Implemented Nationally by the United States Marshals Service
More than 842 people in trouble with the law - 324 with outstanding felony
warrants - voluntarily surrendered in an unprecedented coalition of faith-based,
nonprofit, law enforcement and judicial authorities at Mount Sinai Baptist
Church in Cleveland, Ohio.
Peter J. Elliott, United States Marshal for the
Northern District of Ohio, came up with the idea to structure a faith based
project that encouraged felony fugitives to voluntarily surrender, without
offering amnesty. The goal was to reduce the risk to neighborhoods in which
fugitives hide, as well as to law enforcement officers who pursue fugitives, and
to the fugitives themselves.
Beginning in July 2004, a coalition of faith-based, judicial, law
enforcement, non-profit and media leaders assembled in Cleveland, Ohio to pursue
this challenging mission.
The result was Fugitive Safe Surrender: A four-day event at Mount Sinai Baptist
Church in which officials from the court system, sheriffs, prosecuting
attorneys, public defenders, and others teamed to technologically outfit, staff,
and open a community courthouse in the church. The U.S. Marshals Service, which
generated the idea, also provided assistance. More than 70 volunteers from the
congregation at Mount Sinai Baptist Church partnered with justice system
officials in the planning, passed out more than 3,000 handbills across the area,
and registered the more than 800 persons who surrendered. WKYC-TV Channel 3,
Clear Channel Radio, and Radio One provided news coverage and public service
announcement airtime, and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry's Community Re-Entry
lent experienced staff, resources, and expertise to the cause. Large banners
were created and posted in the county and federal courthouses as well as outside
the church. In addition, 2,000 mailers explaining the program were sent to the
last known addresses of fugitives. A toll-free hotline was established and
staffed by deputy sheriffs and assistant prosecutors so that fugitives could
call with questions.
During the programís four-day operation, 842 individuals surrendered,
including 324 individuals who were wanted for felony crimes. The
majority of the felony fugitives who surrendered were wanted in connection with
non-violent crimes; however, a number of individuals charged with rape,
felonious assault, burglary and robbery, as well as high-level drug offenses,
surrendered as well. Non-violent felons were given bond, new court dates and
released directly from the church, while those wanted for violent crimes, or
those with violent records, were safely taken into custody.
Based on the success of this unique initiate the
United States Marshals Service is going to implement this program nationally
beginning in the eight targeted cities of Phoenix, Washington, DC, Richmond,
Tampa, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Albuquerque, and San Diego.