New Jersey Announces Safe Surrender Program for Criminal Fugitives
If there is a warrant out for your arrest, the U.S. Marshals Service is giving you the opportunity to safely turn yourself in and restart your life. Any U.S. citizen with any outstanding warrant will be able to turn themselves in at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, in the Somerset section of Franklin Township, N.J., November 3-6, 2010.
Fugitive Safe Surrender
This is part of an innovative initiative called Fugitive Safe Surrender that allows people to voluntarily surrender to law enforcement officials in a neutral or faith-based setting. This will be New Jersey's third Fugitive Safe Surrender program. The first, in Camden, N.J., in 2008 resulted in 2,245 people surrendering to law enforcement personnel and beginning new lives. A second program in 2009, saw 4,103 people surrender in Newark. Nationwide, 25,215 people have turned themselves in at Fugitive Safe Surrender programs. Officials are expecting approximately 2,500 fugitives to take part in the upcoming Franklin Township program.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, the goal of the program is to reduce the risk to law enforcement officers who pursue fugitives, the neighborhoods where they hide, and the fugitives themselves. Thousands of fugitives are sought for lower-level, non-violent felonies and misdemeanors from drug possession to theft. Large numbers of fugitives are apprehended each year through expensive and dangerous investigations and fugitive sweeps. Placed in danger by these activities are not only law enforcement authorities, but also fugitives, their family members, and innocent citizens in the area.
Fugitives are often forced to hide their identities, and engage in criminal activity to support themselves because they can not get jobs, obtain driver licenses or engage in other everyday pursuits for fear of being apprehended. They have no health care or other benefits, and are often a burden on employed, law-abiding family members. The Safe Surrender program gives them an opportunity to return to the community as productive citizens.
Although the program is designed for the surrender of people with non-violent felonies and misdemeanors, fugitives with warrants for more serious crimes or a history of violence have also been allowed to surrender in safety at these programs.