DC Safe Surrender-An Interview With Debra Rowe, Executive Director of Returning Citizens United

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-an-interview-with-debra-rowe-executive-director-of-returning-citizens-united/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks: This is Cedric Hendricks for DC Public Safety.  With us today is Debra Rowe, Executive Director of Returning Citizens United.  She’s here today to talk with us about DC Safe Surrender.  Miss Rowe, why is it important for you to be here today to speak about DC Safe Surrender?  What does it mean for you?

Debra Rowe:  Well, first of all it’s important to me because Returning Citizens United is an advocacy and support services program for those pre and post-incarcerated, but mostly, those who have returned home.  And it’s very important because we, Returning Citizens United, we work with them to move forward.  And this program is critical because a lot of people can’t move forward because they have outstanding warrants or they’re not sure if they have warrants.  So that’s why I think this is very important.

Cedric Hendricks:  And you mentioned to me that you’ve had some experience helping people with outstanding warrants come in, surrender and clear those matters up.  How has that unfolded?

Debra Rowe:  Yes, myself and my partner, my colleague and my partner, Yango Sawer, we have returning citizens come year around and directly to us and turn theirself in because the word is out that you can go to Miss Rowe or you need to call Yango Sawyer.  And what we do, they call us, they tell us what the situation is and we escort them down to the courthouse and downstairs and we inform the person at the desk that this person believes they have a warrant.  They look them up in the system.  They say yes, you do.  And we have had a couple of guys get down there and they didn’t have one.  But just like Safe Surrender, your dignity is intact.  You know, there’s no grabbing you, throwing you against the wall, you know, handcuffing you and all that.  Our experience has been they just tell them kindly to have a seat.  They process a little paperwork and then they say yes, you have it and they call one of the marshals out after they do some processing.  And they say can you walk them back for them to go on and deal with it.  And we’ve had calls or follow up with the attorneys to ask will we write a letter on their behalf because they’re going before the judge and they may be released.  The situation’s very dependent on the person and what the charges are.  But it is very critical for Returning Citizens to move forward.  And if you think you have an outstanding warrant, CSOSA and the Safe Surrender program is very important and can help you to just move on.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now back in 2007 when this took place the first time, there were 530 individuals that turned themselves in and in fact, 98 percent of them walked out that very same day and were able to start putting their lives back together.  And one of the other important things was that at that site that was at Bible Way Church there were resource and service providers on site.  So if an individual needed to make a connection for treatment or for employment,

Debra Rowe:  Child support.

Cedric Hendricks:  all of that, APRA was there, DOES was there and we’re looking to have those same kind of providers there today.  Now last time it was at a church.  This time it’s at a courthouse.  Does that make any difference?

Debra Rowe:  I think it makes a big difference because you’re right there.  It’s like one stop.  You’re right there.  You’re at the court.  I’ve read that there’s going to be attorneys available to assist you.  I mean you can’t get any better than that.  It’s one stop.

Cedric Hendricks: And that’s a good point.  The Public Defender Service which was a great partner the last time, is certainly going to be there the day so that anybody who is going to then appear before a judge or a United States parole commissioner, will have the opportunity to have representation to assist them.

Debra Rowe:  That’s right, yes.

Cedric Hendricks:  Alright, well we just want to close by having you reiterate the value of this if you would.

Debra Rowe:  Yes, it’s very valuable because when you come home, you come home and sometimes we slip and we make mistakes.  But that doesn’t mean to just go all the way down into a pit.  Just go ahead and face it.  Come out if you know you have a warrant, come out and let us assist you to just get it taken care of and move forward with your life.  And that’s the step right there.  That’s a step in moving forward, that you come down and you surrender.  And you’re surrendering safely.  You’re going to be in good hands.

Cedric Hendricks:  We’ve been talking with Debra Rowe, the Executive Director of Returning Citizens United about DC Safe Surrender.  Thank you Miss Rowe.

Debra Rowe:  Thank you.

[Audio Ends]

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DC Safe Surrender-An Interview With Willie Jones-First Participant of 2007′s Fugitive Safe Surrender

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-an-interview-with-willie-jones-first-participant-of-2007s-fugitive-safe-surrender/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks: This is Cedric Hendricks for DC Public Safety.  With us today is Mr. Willie Jones, and were talking with Mr. Jones about DC Safe Surrender.  Mr. Jones, you were a participant in Safe Surrender when it was first done in 2007.  How did that come to take place?

Willie Jones:  I had an outstanding warrant for a failure to appear and I heard about the program and I thought I would check it out and get involved.

Cedric Hendricks:  And what happened after you came down.  What was the experience?

Willie Jones:  Well, it was a very good experience.  I came in, they got rid of the warrant and got me out right away.

Cedric Hendricks: And how has your life changed since that day?

Willie Jones:  My life has elevated so much.  I got a District Government job.  I got my family back; a lot of things; just, my life has progressed so much.

Cedric Hendricks: Well, now DC Safe Surrender is taking place again and what words would you share with others who are out in the community now with outstanding warrants?

Willie Jones:  I would encourage them to do the right thing.  Turn yourself in.  The decision you make today affects your tomorrow.  If you make a good decision today, you’ll have a good tomorrow.  If you make a bad decision today, you’ll have a bad tomorrow.  I would say to the people out there now, do the right thing, do it now.  I did it.

Cedric Hendricks:  And to family members out there who have a loved one who they know has an outstanding warrant, is there a message that you would offer them?

Willie Jones:  I would tell them to encourage them, come with them, support them, give them the strength and let them know that’s the right thing to do.  That’s the same way my family did with me.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now when Safe Surrender took place back in 2007, it was at Bible Way Church and this time it’s taking place at the DC Superior Court House.  Does that matter in how this should be considered by an individual with an outstanding warrant?

Willie Jones:  Well let me give you a different outlook now because the last time it was at the church.  This time it’s at the courthouse.  And a lot of people think because there’s cells there, it’s the courthouse, just the courthouse itself makes them think.  But I would encourage anyone that I know, I’m involved with this Safe Surrender program, I wouldn’t mislead anyone to do anything that I didn’t think would benefit them.

Cedric Hendricks:  And I think you are right.  I think it’s important to point out that in 2007, there were 530 individuals that came in and surrendered and 98% of them walked out the same day.

Willie Jones:  Yes they did and I was one of the first one.  And I was processed in and out in 15 minutes. So like I said at first, I encourage anyone if you’ve got an outstanding warrant, on the 13th of August, on the 20th of August and the 27th, come on down and make the right decision.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now let’s just say a bit about what happened.  When you saw a Judge there, that matter you had pending wasn’t squashed all together, but you got another date to come back.  What went on after that?

Willie Jones:  When I came in, I saw the Judge; he said “you’ve got a failure to appear warrant; I’m going to get rid of the warrant and give you another court date and I’m quite sure you’ll be there.”  I said, “Yes Sir” because it’s like a second chance.  They just give you a chance to do the right thing.

Cedric Hendricks: Now you talked about how your failure to appear was inspired to some degree by you sitting in that Judge’s courtroom and seeing folks getting sent away.  And that’s what gave you some concern about your fate might be and led you to fail to appear.

Willie Jones:  Yes. I saw a guy that I grew up with that was in the courtroom in front of me.  And the Judge said, “Yes”.  He told the Judge, “I’ve done everything you’ve told me to do”. And she said, “Yes you did, but your past; your history; made me the decision to give you 60 months”. And I got up and left.

Cedric Hendricks:  And then after having left, and then coming and surrendering in the Safe Surrender event, you were back in front of a Judge with your history, some would say, having been made worse by the failure to appear.  But you didn’t get the outcome that that other individual got.  What happened with you when you finally were sentenced?

Willie Jones: I got 18 months probation and she said that since I did turn myself in, it made a difference.

Cedric Hendricks: Well, all right.  That’s really what it’s all about. You know, giving people I guess the benefit of them having come in and surrendered and coming away with it all with a positive opportunity to do the right thing.

Willie Jones: That’s right.  Definitively.  Yes.

Cedric Hendricks: We’ll we’ve been talking with Mr. Willie Jones, who was the first person to surrender back in 2007 when Safe Surrender took place and we appreciate you coming out and speaking in support of this DC Safe Surrender.  Thank you Mr. Jones.

Willie Jones: Thank you Mr. Cedric.

[Audio Ends]

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DC Safe Surrender 2011 – An Interview with US Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-2011-an-interview-with-us-marshal-hedgepeth/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks: This is Cedric Hendricks for DC Public Safety.  With us today is US Marshal, Thomas Hedgepeth, who will talk with us about DC Safe Surrender.  Marshal Hedgepeth, what is DC Safe Surrender?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  DC Safe Surrender is an opportunity for persons who within our community, who have outstanding warrants of judiciary issues that have not been addressed, an opportunity to come in a safe haven type environment, to come in and address these issues in a non-confrontational way that’s beneficial both to the community as well as the defendant and/or respondents.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now how is it beneficial?  Can you be a bit specific there?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It is extremely beneficial from the standpoint, first of all from a law enforcement perspective, it allows the police to focus on more violent crimes and it doesn’t take away from community and public policing.  This allows us to focus on other criminal elements at large.  It allows us to keep those resources free while allowing other people to come in and voluntarily, of their own free will, and address their issues that are outstanding within the court.  It promotes efficiency within the court system and allows us to marshal our resources on keeping the violent offenders off the streets.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now this safe surrender has been a national initiative of the United States Marshal Service.  How successful has it been across the country?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Cedric, it’s been an extremely successful initiative.  We’ve had over 27,000 persons who participated in a program.  We have hundreds of success stories have come.  And they’ve had a chance now to address those issues that have been outstanding for perhaps weeks, months or years.  It gives them the satisfaction of knowing they’ve dealt with an issue.  They no longer have to look behind their back, look over their head every time an issue comes up.  It gives them an opportunity to move forward with their lives and it frees up the court docket from dealing with the issue in the future so we can go and address future needs of the community and the citizens for the district or any other community that we’re involved in.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now Safe Surrender was done back in 2007 here in the District of Columbia and it was a truly collaborative project.  And it involved the Marshal Service, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the Parole Commission, the courts.  Why is this type of collaboration essential to make this an extremely successful event?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It is absolutely essential.   This is a partnership.  The courts, public defenders service, the Marshal, the Attorney’s office, Metropolitan Police Department, we all have one common goal and that’s to keep our city streets safe.  We want every citizen to walk the street and feel comfortable walking the street.  And the way we do that is through a collaborative effort.  It gives us a chance to marshal our resources, as well like to say it, have the most bang for our buck.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It really gives an opportunity to stretch your arms out and touch a lot more people.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now I understand back in 2007, about 530 individuals surrendered.  Do you have a goal for this Safe Surrender experience?  Are we looking for more people to turn themselves in or not?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Actually for this one, our goals are a bit less modest.  We’re actually hoping to get a few hundred people to turn themselves in.  We’ve had a couple of warrant initiatives that we’ve actually had the opportunity to go out and do over the past couple of months.  And we have one or two more scheduled for the year.  And of course, our goal is to focus on violent offenders during those initiatives and this gives an opportunity for us to focus on those as well as for other people to come in, do the right thing, get these issues resolved so that when we come knocking, we won’t be knocking on their doors.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now I understand that the Safe Surrender Program is targeting folks with non-violent felonies, misdemeanor warrants and does not include violent felonies or domestic violence warrants.  Why is that the case?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Well Cedric, actually the primary reason is because we target that audience because unfortunately people may not realize, but the vast majority of our warrants are non-violent offenders.  I mean while violent offenders may get a higher amount of press play, in effect, most of our citizens who get involved within the legal system are brought in for non-violent offenses.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now when and where will DC Safe Surrender take place?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It’s going to take place August 13, 20, and 27 of this year.  And it’s going to be held at the courthouse.  And what it’s going to afford is the people to come in, speak to lawyers, counselors, the judges and address their issues, get those issues resolved, be given future court dates to come back if it can’t be resolved that day.  And we’re looking for a really wonderful turnout and a very, very successful event this time around.

Cedric Hendricks:  Well, I want to thank you.  We’ve been talking with US Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth about DC Safe Surrender.

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Thank you very much.

Cedric Hendricks:  Thank you sir.

[Audio Ends]

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DC Safe Surrender 2011 – An Interview with DC Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-2011-an-interview-with-dc-superior-court-chief-judge-lee-f-satterfield/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks:  Hello, this is Cedric Hendricks and welcome to DC Public Safety.  Today we’re talking with Chief Judge Lee Satterfield of the DC Superior Court about DC Safe Surrender.  Chief Judge Satterfield, what can people expect when they come to the courthouse this year hoping to surrender during the DC Safe Surrender Program?

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Well as you know Cedric, a few years ago we had the Safe Surrender Program.  Before it was at a church, we moved it to the courthouse because of financial considerations and the budget and those issues.  It’s less costly.  But it’s going to be the same type of program.  The judge is going to be in the same mindset that they were in the church.  The other partners are going to be there doing the same things they were doing at the church so we expect to have a successful program just like we had at the church.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now what type of warrants are you focusing on for those that surrender, because I know that some warrants that are excluded from this process?

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Well sure, I mean for the program itself, we’re looking at non-violent warrants, you know, misdemeanor or felony.  But you know, as a judge, I’d encourage everybody if they have a warrant to turn themselves in because you’re always going to be looked at more favorably if you take responsibility for that warrant, you take care, then if you don’t and other people have to come out and get you.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now is this just for folks with warrants issued in the District of Columbia?  What about folks in the surrounding communities?  If they hear about this and they have a warrant in Maryland and Virginia, is this something that they can participate in?

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  I would encourage you to turn yourself in in your jurisdiction and not at the Superior Court, because we’re looking at warrants that have been issued by the court, people not appearing in court or arrest warrants that have been issued or assigned by judges.  So we’re looking at folks who have warrants in this jurisdiction.

Cedric Hendricks:  Is this for adults and juveniles or just adults?

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Just adults.

Cedric Hendricks:  Okay, now is there an overarching public safety benefit here that we really want people to understand, both with respect to individuals and their families?  Cause you know, it’s clear that families can see value in this and bring their loved one in as well.

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Well, I would hope that families see a lot of value in this because a program like this protects the individual that has the warrant.  It protects the family members, because if the police or marshals have to come out to the home, there are chances and risks of the children being scared if they’re in the home, family members getting involved in the process to arrest the offender.  So it helps the family, it protects the property.  Many people live in homes with their relatives and the police come through the home.  They’re there to serve a purpose.  And sometimes property can be damaged and of course it protects our law enforcement officers who are out there trying to keep the community safe.  And so when I hear that as a judge, when I know that somebody’s going to not let those factors come into play by turning themselves in, and that’s something that I’m going to be thinking about favorably because that person has shown responsibility.  I’m going to give that person the respect that’s due based on that decision that’s being made.  But on the flip side of that, when someone does come in and having been arrested by marshal or police officer, then all those factors were in play and I can’t give them favorable attention to those things, taking responsibility.  So when you’re making that decision, family members and others, you know, the best decision will be to come in because we really do look at that more favorably than we do when people are brought in through law enforcement.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now DC Safe Surrender was undertaken a few years ago, I believe in 2007 and over 530 individuals turned themselves in.  What are your expectations for this time around?

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Well we hope that we get that number and more, because there are a number of outstanding warrants.  And you know when it was done a few years ago, it was just a very small percentage, under two percent of the people who turned themselves in, were not released.  So if you’re thinking about over 500 people, we’re talking about five or six people who for whatever reason, they may have had other types of warrants pending other circumstances, were not released.  So a substantial majority of folk who came in were back in the community after they resolved their warrants.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now this event is one that involves a lot of criminal justice partners.  Why is this essential to the success?

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Oh, it’s absolutely essential from the prosecutors to the CSOSA to our Criminal Justice Coordinating Counsel.  I know I’m going to miss somebody, Public Defender Service, Pre-Trial Services.  All these folk are essential because a number of these agencies supervise individuals who are on outstanding warrants and there are agencies whose recommendations the court values in deciding what to do in individual cases like this.  So their role is very essential as well.

Cedric Hendricks:  And when will DC Safe Surrender take place sir?

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Well it’s going to take place on three consecutive weekends starting on the 13th of August, 20th of August and the 27th of August.

Cedric Hendricks:  We’ve been talking with Chief Judge Lee Satterfield of the DC Superior Court about DC Safe Surrender.  Thank you sir.

Chief Judge Lee Satterfield:  Thank you very much.

[Audio Ends]

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DC Safe Surrender 2011 – An Interview with Assistant MPD Chief Peter Newsham

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-2011-an-interview-with-assistant-mpd-chief-peter-newsham/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks: Hello. This is Cedric Hendricks and this is DC Public Safety.  Today we’re going to be talking about DC Safe Surrender with Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief, Peter Newsham. Welcome to DC Safe Surrender.

Peter Newsham:: Thank you Cedric.

Cedric Hendricks: Chief, can you tell us how many warrants there are outstanding in the District of Columbia and the types of warrants that you see?

Peter Newsham:  We have over 600 felony warrants that are outstanding.  The biggest category of cases that we have is misdemeanor bench warrants and there’s more than 12,000 of those, so that’s significant.  And then we have another category which is other warrants, is about 1,000.  So all told, we have more than 14,000 warrants outstanding.

Cedric Hendricks: And then one of the functions that the police department plays is arresting people on warrants.  And how does that typically happen?

Peter Newsham:  Absolutely.  We have warrant squads and that’s their function is to go out and find folks who are wanted on all of these warrants, you know, any warrant would come into play.  The other way, as you know, that people can be arrested when they have warrants outstanding on them is if they come into contact with a police officer.  It could be something as simple as a traffic accident.  They could be involved in a traffic accident, we run their name, their license and lo and behold if they have a warrant, we’re required to take them into custody.

Cedric Hendricks: Now can executing a warrant be a risky proposition for a police officer?

Peter Newsham:  Well, it can be, you know, because you don’t know what to expect when you’re serving a warrant.  They serve all kinds of warrants.  There’s been some very profile cases where officers have been either injured or killed serving warrants.  So there is, you know, the police have to be prepared for that potential eventuality is that it ends up becoming a violent confrontation.  Most of the folks, I would suspect that are wanted on the misdemeanor bench warrants would not pose that threat, but the officers don’t know that so they have to be prepared for those kinds of things.

Cedric Hendricks: Now DC Safe Surrender offers an opportunity for individuals with non-violent felony warrants, misdemeanor warrants, to turn themselves in.  So what do you see as the public safety benefit of an event like this that provides an opportunity.

Peter Newsham:  Well first of all, I mean it’s a benefit to the individual.  They can get this thing off of their back essentially.  They don’t have to be concerned about it hanging over their head.  You don’t, it’s very inconvenient to have a warrant served on you if you’re doing something, for example, at a family function, traveling somewhere, we’re going to take you into custody and you’re going to have to go through that process.  If you come down here one of these Saturdays in August, you can resolve the matter.  Once the matter is resolved, it’s resolved forever.  As far as a public safety piece for us, the value that we see is that, you know, we have these warrant squads that are out there and in some cases, they are trying to apprehend folks who are violent.  And they’re trying to evade capture.  Like I said, I don’t think the large majority of the folks that have these non-violent cases are in that category, but if we’re able to get some of those folks to come in, it frees up our warrant squad to get some of the more violent folks.  And that’s a benefit to everybody, to get the violent people off the streets.

Cedric Hendricks: Now one of the significant aspects of DC Safe Surrender is a collaboration of law enforcement agencies within the District of Columbia.  How important is that in the success of an endeavor like this?

Peter Newsham:  Oh, it’s very important and we’re very fortunate in the district because of the relationships that we have.  As you know, we have the local Metropolitan police, but we have a lot of federal agencies, the CSOSA, pre-trial services,  US Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General and all these folks, the courts of course.  All of these folks come into play.  And like I said, we had a relationship prior to going into the Safe Surrender Operation.  We had a Safe Surrender, as you know, about three years ago which was very successful.  But having those relationships is really critical to making the city safe.

Cedric Hendricks: Well now you mentioned the Safe Surrender back in 2007, I believe it was.  And it’s my understandingthat there were about 530 individuals that turned themselves in.  What is your hope as we approach Safe Surrender this time around, in terms of the success?  What would be a successful outcome as you said?

Peter Newsham:  Well, it’s going to be successful if we get any number of people to turn themselves in, a significant number of people you know?  If we get hundreds of people to turn themselves in, fantastic; If we get thousands of people to turn themselves in, even better.  You know, like I told you, being able to free up the warrant squads that are working in the city to go after the most violent people is really what the police department, I think it’s what most people expect the police department to do.

Cedric Hendricks: Well, we thank you for your participation here today.  This has been Cedric Hendricks talking with Metropolitan Police Department, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham about DC Safe Surrender.

[Audio Ends]

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