FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:  David Siler, Deputy U.S. Marshal     
October 27, 2005 Northern District of Ohio, (216) 522-7711

 
Fugitive Safe Surrender Program - Started in Cleveland - to be Implemented Nationally by the United States Marshals Service 

Fugitive Safe Surrender LogoMore 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 themselvesBeginning 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.