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November 21, 2006 U.S. Marshal David Gonzales, (602) 920-4801
Over 1,300 Fugitives Surrender
to U.S. Marshals at Church Site
Phoenix, AZ – Last week, fugitives in Maricopa County had a brief, one-time opportunity to take their first step toward a second chance and took full advantage of it. Over 1,300 fugitives surrendered peacefully over four days at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Phoenix. Even after Sunday’s church services -- one day after the official end of the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Safe Surrender program -- 40 additional fugitives showed up to surrender.

From Wednesday through Saturday last week (November 15-18), more than 1,300 people in trouble with the law - nearly 300 with outstanding felony warrants - voluntarily surrendered to local and federal authorities at a temporary community court established in an administrative building next to Pilgrim Rest. Many had there cases heard by a judge and completed on the spot, others received future court dates.

“This program meets a very powerful need,” said Pilgrim Rest’s leader, Bishop Alexis Thomas. “The authorities want fugitives to stop running, and as we plainly witnessed here, many non-violent fugitives want to come in and get a second chance at life. Fugitive Safe Surrender gives them that opportunity, and our church was pleased to serve as a core partner in the program’s success.”

The project’s core government partners included Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas, as well as the Superior Court, Public Defender and Clerk of Courts. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office also participated. “Our criminal justice system here is one of the finest in the nation,” said Arizona’s U.S. Marshal David Gonzales. “I moved quickly last fall to bring this program here because I strongly believe in its mission and I knew that Maricopa County would serve as an outstanding proving ground.”

Any fugitives seeking information about the status of their warrants, or about where to surrender should call (602) 506-8575. Individuals in other states should call their local U.S. Marshals.

Other partners included Clear Channel Radio and Clear Channel Outdoor, Hewlett-Packard, Cox Media, Value Options and Hughes Calihan.

The U.S. Marshals Service continues to lead the development of Fugitive Safe Surrender in additional cities across the nation, and 2007 implementations are anticipated Indianapolis, Akron and Richmond.

The United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force in Arizona will begin a county-wide fugitive round-up this week targeting individuals who did not take advantage of this program.