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For Immediate Release

November 15, 2010 Marty West, U.S. Marshals Service: 850-942-8395;
Derek Friend, Tallahassee Police Department: 850-891-4285
Fugitive Safe Surrender Program Coming to Tallahassee

Tallahassee, FL - Individuals wanted for non-violent misdemeanor crimes in Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla Counties will soon have the chance to turn themselves in at a local church, where they may receive favorable consideration on their open warrants.

FSS LogoIndividuals who are hiding from the law pose a risk to themselves, the communities in which they hide, and the law enforcement officers who pursue them. A Congressionally-authorized United States Marshals Service initiative known as Fugitive Safe Surrender will take place Wednesday, December 8th, through Saturday, December 11th, at the Bethel AME Church, located at 501 West Orange Avenue in Tallahassee, Florida. There are no religious requirements and a secular site will also be available. Public defenders will be available to surrenderees.

There are currently over 20,000 open warrants in Leon County, and over 10,000 warrants in Gadsden and Wakulla Counties, with many of them for non-violent offenses. Living with an open warrant often leads to driver’s license suspension or renewal complications, unemployment, or housing problems and interrupts the ability to be a productive citizen. The Fugitive Safe Surrender program encourages wanted individuals to turn themselves in, address their warrant, and move forward with their lives.

More than 25,500 fugitives have surrendered to authorities at 20 Fugitive Safe Surrender sites in 18 states since the program began five years ago in Cleveland, Ohio. Each site has drawn hundreds – and in many cases thousands – of men and women who chose to take the first step toward a fresh start. This will be the first time the program is available in Florida.

As many as 97% of the individuals who surrendered for non-violent offenses at those sites went home the same day after receiving probation, paying a fine, or receiving a new court date. Though the program is geared toward non-violent misdemeanor offenses committed in Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla Counties, people with warrants for more serious criminal offenses can also avail themselves of Fugitive Safe Surrender but may not have the opportunity for same-day resolution of their outstanding criminal matters.

The FSS program creates a partnership between the clergy, the courts, and social services agencies. That partnership is supported by local and Federal law enforcement. The Tallahassee partnership includes the U.S. Marshals Service; Bethel AME Church; Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit, the Public Defender’s Office and State Attorney’s Office of the Second Judicial Circuit, Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla County Probation, Florida Department of Corrections Probation Office, Clerk of the Court for Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla Counties, Leon County, City of Tallahassee, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office, Tallahassee Police Department, Deliverance Temple Ministries, Wakulla Springs Baptist Church, Wildwood Baptist Church, and several local service organizations.

The U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies pursue tens of thousands of fugitives each year, with every arrest containing the potential for violence. Fugitives don’t just put themselves and their pursuers at risk – they endanger their families and communities as well. The Fugitive Safe Surrender program reduces this risk by allowing individuals to surrender safely at a neutral location to receive favorable consideration by the court.

For more information please call the information line at 850-942-9670.


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