Washington, DC residents who have active warrants will get a chance to turn themselves in through the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program (DC Safe Surrender) set to begin on August 13, 20 and 27 at the Moultrie Courthouse from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
The program gives Washingtonians who have a non-violent felony and/or misdemeanor warrants an opportunity to easily and efficiently take care of these outstanding warrants.
“It really gives people a chance to handle their legal woes, without initially doing any jail time,” said Carter Simpson, a southeast resident who works in the re-entry field. He added that he has referred many of his clients to go if they have warrants.
Fugitive Safe Surrender first came to the District of Columbia in the fall of 2007. During its first introduction to the District, the program netted 530 people who came to resolve their outstanding warrants. Participants surrendered themselves to the U.S. Marshall’s Service (fifty-three  were wanted for felony crimes). An overwhelming majority of the men and women who participated left with a new court date, or had the charges resolved while they were there. With seven different units operating around the country that year, it’s estimated that 6,500 people were able to turn themselves in.
The national version of the Fugitive Safe Surrender program was disbanded earlier this year by The U.S. Marshals Service due to budget constraints. Because of previous success in the District, a joint effort was established by numerous federal and District-based agencies.
“The program was too successful to allow it to fail,” a source within D.C. Superior Courts said.
Juliette Tony, the mother of a returning citizen who participated in the program in 2007, said, “DC Safe Surrender is a wonderful program. My daughter was able to go to Bible Way and get her situation taken care of. “
A policeman from 7th District said, “DC Safe Surrender helps everyone. It protects our police officers; my fellow brothers. We can serve warrants without things escalating into something more dangerous.”
In the Washington, D.C. area Steve Conboy, United States Marshal for the District of Columbia Superior Court, and Paul Quander, Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency of the District of Columbia (CSOSA) ran the program, and was held at Bible Way Church.
“This is the way to extend the olive branch to foster trust in the community, and ask folks to do the right thing. It doesn’t have to be difficult, and it doesn’t have to be dangerous,” Conboy remarked.
Also in 2007, Apostle James Silver of the Bible Way Church [located on the of New York Ave, NE], agreed to serve as the faith-based leader of Fugitive Safe Surrender – DC.
Returning citizen Willie Jones was the first person to participate in the program in Washington, D.C. He had an active warrant on a distribution of heroin charge.
“I was tired of looking over my shoulder,” he said, “and was frustrated that I couldn’t find stable work. I couldn’t even drive a car without wondering when they [the police] were going to pull me over for something and run my name.”
Forty (40) minutes after arriving, Jones had been processed and was out on a personal bond. “My warrant had been taken care of.”
Jones spoke highly of the program, and encouraged others to follow his lead. “It’s a very good program; trust it and walk on in,” he said.
Some Washingtonians have issue with the event being held at a courthouse.
Gregory Tackle, a returning citizen, said, “I’ve talked to many people who do have warrants and they say they aren’t going because its going on at the courthouse. A bunch of them are worried they if they check in, they won’t be able to check out.”
Agencies that helped establish the DC Safe Surrender Program are: DC is a joint effort of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency, the U.S. Parole Commission, the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.
Keep in mind that domestic violence cases are not included.
The website for the current “DC Safe Surrender” is http://www.dcsafesurrender.org.