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U.S. Marshals Service

Fugitive Safe Surrender

 

Columbia, South Carolina – July 9-12, 2008

Fugitive Safe Surrender in the greater Columbia area took place in mid-July 2008, under the leadership of Johnny Mack Brown, United States Marshal for the District of South Carolina. Over the course of the four-day surrender period, 382 individuals with outstanding warrants took the opportunity to surrender to law enforcement and help pave the way for a more successful future.  As a result of an extensive media and public outreach campaign, dozens of people attempted to take advantage of the program each day, making the program yet another unqualified success.  Fugitive Safe Surrender – Columbia was the tenth operation of its kind undertaken by the USMS, and it was the first to include two jurisdictions – Lexington and Richland Counties.

With an estimated backlog of over 100,000 outstanding warrants in the greater Columbia area, the Marshals Service was eager to bring this initiative to South Carolina. For more than a year, Marshal Brown coordinated with local civic and law enforcement leaders to lay the groundwork to make Fugitive Safe Surrender Columbia a reality.  Marshals Service organizers were pleased with Fugitive Safe Surrender’s results in Columbia.  At the conclusion of the operation, Marshal Brown for the District of South Carolina, said that “ because of the success of Fugitive Safe Surrender in Columbia, there will be 382 fewer potentially violent confrontations on community streets.  It is difficult to quantify, but I am convinced that we saved at least one person – whether an officer, a suspect or member of the public – from a life-threatening situation.  At the same time, many people with outstanding warrants got fresh starts after taking responsibility for their actions and victims were able to begin to get closure.  I believe the relationships between our law enforcement, legal, and faith-based partners will pay dividends for years to come."

The doors of Bible Way Church of Atlas Road opened at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 9, and for four straight days, individuals wanted for a variety of offenses waited and eagerly anticipated their turn to take a first step at a second chance.  Assisted by local advertising and a word-of-mouth campaign organized by Columbia-area churches, as well as news items on television and in the print media, several dozen individuals presented themselves each day for adjudication of their outstanding warrants.

Pastor Darrell Jackson, Sr., of Bible Way Church praised the success of the program.  “The whole reason we got involved is because it gives people a second chance,” said Pastor Jackson.  This is a sentiment that has been a hallmark of the program.  Individuals with outstanding criminal warrants cannot become productive members of society, since they cannot land a job, or even obtain a driver’s license.  As a creative re-entry program, Fugitive Safe Surrender assists in giving people a second chance at a productive life, and the response in each city has been overwhelmingly positive for those people who are helped.

Preliminary results showed that 382 individuals surrendered over the program’s four days, and that 38 of those were wanted for felony crimes.  An unusually high number of people ( i.e., 101) who appeared at the church found that they had no active warrants against them, further illustrating the benefit of the program.  In all, warrants were cleared, and 15 individuals were arrested, including one man who presented himself on sexual offender charges.  Accompanied by his relatives, this individual knew he was going to jail, but felt safe in surrendering to law enforcement in the friendly confines of the church.

In addition to Pastor Jackson and the leadership of Bible Way Church, key partners in Fugitive Safe Surrender – Columbia included the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services, and LRADAC - The Behavioral Health Center of the Midlands.  The South Carolina Employment Security Commission and the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles also were on site to offer job counseling services and advice on how to renew driver’s licenses.

Frontline law enforcement partners included the South Carolina Judicial Department, the South Carolina Court Administration, the Richland County Magistrates’ Office, the Lexington County Magistrates’ Office, the Lexington County Clerk’s Office, and the Richland County Clerk’s Office.  Legal team partners include the Fifth Circuit (Richland County) Solicitor’s Office, the Richland County Public Defender’s Office, the Eleventh Circuit (Lexington) Solicitor’s Office, and the Lexington County Public Defender’s Office.

 

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