An Interview with the First Fugitive to Surrender on the Second Day

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=60

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” Radio and TV Shows, Blog and Transcripts

See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

See www.dcsafesurrender.org for information on Safe Surrender in Washington, D.C.

(Audio Begins)

Leonard Sipes: Hi, I am Len Sipes from Fugitive Safe Surrender. I am the senior public affairs specialist for the Federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. In front of me is Eric Dean. Eric surrendered today on a Friday to Fugitive Safe Surrender at the Bible Way Church in downtown D.C. and the interesting thing about Eric is that he walked all the way in from Landover starting at about 2 o’clock this morning. What prompted you to make such a long walk Eric?

Eric Dean: In prayer of my mother.

Leonard Sipes: And say again, I’m sorry.

Eric Dean: The prayers of my mother.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. So, the prayer of your mother is what got you here?

Eric Dean: That and God and the belief in God.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And what happened to you today? You came in on a warrant and give me a little bit about what happened.

Eric Dean: Well, I got a call from my PO on Monday saying that I had a warrant from 05, that it had been 2 years now and I am getting back on my feet and I was trying to figure out what it was all about.

Leonard Sipes: But isn’t it a bit of a scary process, I mean most of the people out there who have a warrants or a hearing about Fugitive Safe Surrender, they are going to say to themselves that I’m not quite sure I really trust the criminal justice system. What was the deciding factor of you coming in today to the Bible Way Church?

Eric Dean: Faith.

Leonard Sipes: It was faith in God?

Eric Dean: Yes, faith in God.

Leonard Sipes: And today’s your mom’s birthday, so did you do this as a birthday present to your mom?

Eric Dean: To her and myself.

Leonard Sipes: Because?

Eric Dean: Once you take time to get on your feet, you want to stay on your feet and I did a crime in 2000 at the age of 35. I’m now 41 and 5 years taken out of my life is too long and I’m getting back on my feet and I want to stay on my feet.

Leonard Sipes: So the whole idea is that you want all this resolved, you want to start off fresh and clean.

Eric Dean: That’s what I’m beginning to do today.

Leonard Sipes: Now you have a new court date?

Eric Dean: No court date at all.

Leonard Sipes: So did they resolve your case on the spot?

Eric Dean: Clean slate.

Leonard Sipes: That’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

Eric Dean: God.

Leonard Sipes: One of the things that I wanted to say to everybody listening is that the overwhelming majority of the people who come in to Fugitive Safe Surrender are walking out the same day, either with a new court date or having their cases resolved on the spot. What would you say to individuals who happen to listen to this, what would you say to them about participating in Fugitive Safe Surrender?

Eric Dean: Have faith and take a chance and believe.

Leonard Sipes: Was the fact that it was in a church and the fact that you were greeted by volunteers and ministers; was that one of the reasons why you decided to come in today?

Eric Dean: No. Just because I said a prayer this morning and they say if God knocks you should open the door and the door, he knocked this morning at 2 o’clock, I started walking.

Leonard Sipes: And you started out walking from Landover at 2 o’clock in the morning to make it to Bible Way Church north of downtown D.C.

Eric Dean: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: Thank you very much.

Eric Dean: Thank you. Have a nice day.

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An Interview with the First Fugitive to Surrender

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=59

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” Radio and TV Shows, Blog and Transcripts

See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

See www.dcsafesurrender.org for information on DC Safe Surrender in Washington, D.C.

Leonard Sipes: Hi and welcome to Fugitive Safe Surrender, my name is Len Sipes from the Federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. I am here talking with Mr. Willie Jones. Mr. Jones was the first person who surrendered at the Fugitive Safe Surrender program here in Washington D.C. at the Bible Way Church at New York and New Jersey Avenue. First of all Mr. Jones, tell me why you came in today.

Willie Jones: Because I had an outstanding warrant.

Leonard Sipes: And what was the warrant for.

Willie Jones: Distribution of heroin.

Leonard Sipes: And you told me earlier that you were out on this warrant for approximately a year.

Willie Jones: Yes sir.

Leonard Sipes: And what happened on that year’s time.

Willie Jones: I was looking over my shoulder. I was very uncomfortable. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t drive my car. I was just stagernating.

Leonard Sipes: So you were always concerned, needless to say, that you would be picked up.

Willie Jones: Yes sir.

Leonard Sipes: Now, what happened today? So you came into Fugitive Safe Surrender. You were the first in line. You came in with family members?

Willie Jones: Yes I did. I came in with my sister, my brother, and my girlfriend.

Leonard Sipes: Now, what we’ve found out in other Fugitive Safe Surrender cities is that it’s often time a family affair, it’s a family decision. Did you all make this decision collectively, together?

Willie Jones: Yes we did.

Leonard Sipes: And what, tell me a little bit about the process.

Willie Jones: When I came in the door Bible Way staff greeted me; then we went downstairs to a sitting area; they filled out some paperwork; then I met with an attorney. I talked with her for a few minutes; then we met with the Chief Judge in Washington D.C. He gave me personal bonds, got rid of the warrant and I’m back in the street and I don’t have to look over my shoulders now.

Leonard Sipes: And how does that make you feel?

Willie Jones: It make me feel real, real good. Only by the grace of God, I keep him first. First in my life and prayer.

Leonard Sipes: Now, what would you tell everybody who is going to be listening to this today, both media and people who are going to be hearing this who are considering participating in Fugitive Safe Surrender. What would you tell them?

Willie Jones: That this is a very, very good program and anything that’s going on in the house of the Lord, you can trust it, walk on in. Anybody that know me, my name is Willie Clayton Jones, some people call me Squid. Anybody that know me, that know that I’m here, this is a very good program.

Leonard Sipes: Because a lot of people are going to be skeptical about coming in. A lot of people are going to be skeptical, a little bit disbelieving until they hear solid evidence from people like yourself.

Willie Jones: Yeah, well they can take it from me, like I said, my name is Willie Jones, some people call me Squid. This is a very good program, it’s a safe program. You have nothing to worry about unless you have a violent crime like armed robbery, kidnap, sexual to kids, something to that nature. If you just have something that’s a misdemeanor you’ll walk in and walk right out. I’ve only been in here like 40 minutes before my process was taken care of.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, anything else you want to add?

Willie Jones: I’d just like to say thanks for the Safe Surrender program, whoever started it, and also I’d like to say thanks for my family but let me put God first, without Him I can’t do anything. So I’d just like to say thanks and thanks for the interview and thank you too sir.

Leonard Sipes: Willie Jones I thank you very much too sir. Have yourself a pleasant day.

Willie Jones: You too.

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Fugitive Safe Surrender in Washington DC – Radio Transcript

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=55

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” Radio and TV Shows, Blog and Transcripts

See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

See www.dcsafesurrender.org for information on DC Safe Surrender in Washington, D.C.

Leonard Sipes: Hi and welcome to D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Today we have a program that is, I think, extraordinarily interesting to virtually everybody, regardless of where they are within the country, but especially to people within the District of Columbia. We have a program called Fugitive Safe Surrender. Fugitive Safe Surrender has been going on now in a variety of cities throughout the country. There was a recent New York Times article on it that identified five cities and I think there’s been one more added to that showing 4,000 warrants served. The purpose of Fugitive Safe Surrender is to give people who have non-violent warrants, to give them an opportunity to surrender themselves safely within a faith based setting. In the terms of the program that were about to do, it’s going to be in a church in northwest Washington D.C. To talk about Fugitive Safe Surrender, what it means, what’s happened throughout the country, we have two people with us today. From the United States Marshal’s Office, we have Bernard Graham. Bernard is a supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal and we also have Nancy Ware. Nancy is the executive director of the D.C. criminal justice coordinating council and to Bernard and Nancy welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Nancy Ware: Thank you Len.

Bernard Graham: Thank you Len.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Throughout this program, I’m going to be giving out a couple numbers. One is a telephone number because there’s going to be a telephone answering system that will give you a variety of information about Fugitive Safe Surrender. The first is the telephone answering system. It’s 202-585-SAFE, safe. 202-585-SAFE. There’s also been a website setup to support this program. It is www.dcsafesurrender.org. Again, that’s www.dcsafesurrender.org. Bernard, we’re going start off with you. What is Fugitive Safe Surrender? Give me a little bit of the history.

Bernard Graham: Yes Len. Safe Surrender is an initiative that was originally thought of by United States Marshal Pete Elliot who is the marshal in northern Ohio and Pete had the, this idea for fugitives who were non-violent or wanted on misdemeanor crimes to safely surrender. In doing so, he thought that this would be a good idea for them to utilize the faith based community that being the churches and ministers. So, he put together this idea and proposed this and introduced this to congress and U.S. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones introduced it.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, so what does it do?

Bernard Graham: What it does Len, is it will create a safer environment for those individuals who are wanting for those crimes, those felonies, low level felonies, non-violent, and misdemeanor cases to safely surrender in a safe environment. It actually makes the streets safer by not having those individuals getting into a shootout type situation or creating any type of violent atmosphere where they’re trying to surrender. There are a number of individuals as we’ve seen from success of this program already in the cities that we’ve implemented this program over 4,000 individuals who have safely walked in and surrendered themselves, some of whom knew they were gonna be arrested and not released.

Leonard Sipes: The other thing I’m gonna do throughout this program beyond repeating the telephone number for the telephone answering system and the website is to talk about the specific criteria before we go over to Nancy Ware. Here’s the criteria for the Fugitive Safe Surrender program. Wanted for a non-violent offense, having no history of violence, no extensive criminal history, no domestic violence cases, and adult offenders only. Nancy Ware, executive director of the D.C. Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Now it’s a U.S. Marshal Service Program, but through the offices of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council you brought everybody together, all the participating agencies within the District of Columbia to form a coalition, if you will, a support group, to join hands with the United States Marshal’s Service to bring Fugitive Safe Surrender to the District of Columbia. Correct?

Nancy Ware: That’s correct Len. In order for this initiative to be successful here in Washington, it’s important to galvanize all of our resources here, so, we’ve pulled together all the critical law enforcement and public safety agencies to partner with our local faith based organization which is Bible Way Church on New Jersey Avenue Northwest, so that we could offer this initiative to the D.C. public. We want to encourage families and folks who have outstanding warrants to encourage their family members and themselves to bring themselves in and to use this as an opportunity to safely and effectively come to a location that is a wonderful setup where we’ll have court setup and we’ll have opportunities for them to meet with defense attorneys and,

Leonard Sipes: For free right?

Nancy Ware: All for free and to bring their family members to join us in offering an opportunity for them to surrender.

Leonard Sipes: There’s even going to be childcare and there’s also going to be referrals to social service agencies, correct?

Nancy Ware: That’s right.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And I’m gonna be going over basics throughout the program. When and where it’s gonna be: at the Bible Way Church, 1100 New Jersey Avenue Northwest, Washington D.C. which is at the intersection of New York and New Jersey Avenues. It’s pretty convenient to the convention center subway stop and there’s a couple bus lines, the 96 bus that runs up New Jersey Avenue, the P6 bus from downtown. It’s a convenient way to get to the Bible Way Church. It’s going to be on Thursday through Saturday, November 1st to November 3rd and the hours of operation are going to be from 9:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening okay. So we’re going to repeat the criteria, we’re going to repeat the locations, we’re gonna repeat the telephone number and we’re gonna repeat the website for everybody so they can get the information their looking for. Now that we’ve gone through that rather elaborate setup by my clock on my apple computer that we’re recording this on, it’s now 6 minutes and 45 seconds just in terms of doing the introduction. Let’s talk about Fugitive Safe Surrender from the heart. When this program was first introduced to me and when I first was told that we’re going to be doing Fugitive Safe Surrender, my first sense was why in the name in good heavens would people wanted on criminal warrants surrender. Why would they do that, they have plenty of opportunity to walk into any police station they want to and that’s sort of the first thing that comes to a lot of people’s minds that I’ve had conversations with. Why would people voluntarily surrender? Anybody want to give that a whirl?

Nancy Ware: Well, we’ve been doing a lot of work Len in Washington D.C. to help people reintegrate back into the community successfully if they’ve had criminal records and this is part of that effort of reentry and reintegration into the D.C. community effectively. We want all our citizens to have opportunities as much as possible and to give them an opportunity to take advantage of these initiatives that we’ve put in place. We’ve been very, very fortunate to be able to partner with the Bible Way Church. The pastor, Apostle James Silver who’s the Bishop there, has been a wonderful advocate of this initiative and he will be partnering with other faith based leaders throughout the D.C. area to open their arms to folks who have warrants and who are tired of running. You know, often times there’s situations where someone as you mentioned earlier, gets stopped by a police officer and the situation can escalate unnecessarily just because that person has an outstanding warrant or thinks they have an outstanding warrant and in the past we’ve had a number of sting operations and clean sweeps to bring all these warrants in and we got together and said you know, we really want to give folks a chance to come in peacefully so their family members don’t have to be traumatized, children don’t have to be traumatized, they don’t have to continue to look over their shoulders or worry about somebody kicking their door down to collect them for a warrant. We want to give them a place that they can come that’s safe and secure where people have open arms to greet them, to bring them in, to help them.

Leonard Sipes: Now, I’m a former police officer and I have served warrants and it’s exactly that. I mean, it is, you’re at that door at 3:00 in the morning and if it’s a felony warrant you’re gonna go in. It’s a dangerous situation, the kids are often there; other family members are often there. Also, what strikes me is a couple things when I was a police officer I remember pulling over a car one night and all it was a simple traffic stop and baboom, I’ve got a person with a warrant and that person’s struggling and I’m saying what’s going on here, you know this is a traffic stop for speeding, why am I involved in this struggle. There are endless reasons as to why to do Fugitive Safe Surrender, but it seems to be that this simply from an efficacy point of view, simply from an effectiveness point of view, we’re gonna get more offenders or the other Fugitive Safe Surrender cities obtain more offenders if you were wanted on warrants in a couple days then you would in a year. When I went out for a warrant service, I had a list of warrants; you know 12 to 15 warrants. If I came back with one or two that night, I considered it a productive night. For lots of different reasons for the safety of police officers, for the safety of those of us who work within the criminal justice system, from a standpoint of citizen safety, from a standpoint of police officer safety and from the standpoint that a lot of offenders through our focus groups tell us that they are looking for an opportunity to safely surrender. They want this, their families want it, their kids want it, for a lot of different reasons it strikes me that this is a very powerful program. Bernard.

Bernard Graham: Yes Len that’s correct. One of the things that I think that is so important is that you really touched on it just a moment ago is that even for the police officers, we are looking for that safe environment as well. We are not looking for confrontation, we are not trying to get in, definitely not trying making sure that none of the innocent bystanders are harmed in any way and in the D.C. area, of course, we’ve had those types of incidents happen in the past.

Leonard Sipes: And all over the country.

Bernard Graham: All over the country especially. This again opens the door not only for the offender, but also for the police, for the citizens it makes it safer for everyone involved and it also opens up a level of trust back with the faith based community which I believe is extremely important and we are again as Nancy stated earlier so indebted and so grateful that Bible Way has extended this open arm invitation for us.

Leonard Sipes: 202-585-SAFE is the telephone number that we’ve setup for a telephone answering system. 202-585-SAFE. The website we’ve also setup for the Safe Surrender program in Washington D.C. is www.dcsafesurrender.org. But this question goes to either one of you. Have we really answered the question precisely as to why an individual wants to surrender? When I first heard about this program, I’m going why; I mean they can turn themselves in at any time. You know, why would an individual surrender on the criteria that we mentioned before. Why would an individual voluntarily surrender?

Nancy Ware: Well, many of our agencies and CSOSA in particular have done focus groups with ex-offenders and folks who are out on probation and parole just to get a sense of what are their concerns and what are the kinds of things that would encourage someone to use this initiative constructively and what we hear is that people who have outstanding warrants are at constant risk of being confronted by law enforcement in a way that puts their family in jeopardy and puts them in jeopardy. It often affects their ability to get jobs. If they are moving around and trying to figure out exactly how to get their lives back in order, this is a situation that is usually compromised by the fact that they have these outstanding warrants and sometimes it’s not a difficult thing to resolve, it just means that they have to have a mechanism to resolve them in a safe and secure environment and so I think that many family members will be encouraging their loved ones who have warrants to participate in this initiative so that they can get their lives back on track and they don’t have to live in fear or constantly concerned about someone stopping them, pulling over, coming to their door, kicking down their doors, harming they or their children or their loved ones. And so this is a great way to give them an opportunity to come to a church environment or a faith based environment that’s a lovely environment where they’ll have all the supports that they need to safely surrender.

Leonard Sipes: Now, we’re gonna talk about this whole concept of favorable consideration because we have debated this amongst ourselves in terms of what is favorable consideration. I can tell you that the track record in most of the Fugitive Safe Surrender sites throughout the country, Bernard I think this question is gonna go to you because you represent the larger Marshal system here. The vast majority of offenders who have walked in and walked out. Now what does that mean? They either get a new court date to resolve those issues or they sometimes get adjudication on the spot in terms of say they’re there and they simply say fine, it’s time served if you will and it doesn’t go any further than that, it’s ended right then and there and they put the person say on probation and so the person walks out that day. In the focus groups that we did, that was the key issue that was brought up that was the key issue throughout the country when I spoke to people who have went through the program at Indianapolis, they said the principle issue was this concept of favorable consideration that in all probability depending upon the criteria, and I’m gonna repeat the criteria after the question, that they have a pretty good chance of walking that day.

Bernard Graham: That’s correct Len. You will receive what we have deemed and termed as favorable consideration and in every city most of the individuals will walk out on that day. Again, some of these individuals who are surrendering in some of these cities are aware that their crimes that they have been charged with are crimes of violence and that they will not be released, but they are still looking for a safe environment to surrender. They are just not wanting to stay on the lamb so to speak or on the run. They are looking for an environment that they can turn themselves in; they can do away with these charges. In most instances, the family members are very instrumental in getting them to surrender.

Leonard Sipes: I saw that in Indianapolis and by the way for the listeners on our website, we have tape of people who we interviewed in Indianapolis who talked about why they surrendered and in many cases their families were right there and I talked to one mother who basically said that she told her son that he’s going today whether he likes it or not and they came together as a team, but she brought him down with the idea that you’re living in my house, we’re getting this done and over with right now. You cannot continue to do what it is that you’re doing. So, let me give the criteria one more time. Wanted for a non-violent offense, have no history of violence, no extensive criminal history, no domestic violence cases, and adult offenders only. And again, all of this information is on our telephone answering system and on our website just in case you are not picking it up now. But we know, however, that individuals who don’t fit this criteria do end up surrendering because they’re looking for a safe place to surrender.

Bernard Graham: That’s correct Len. They’re still looking for that safe environment. They really want to end this run, this hunt, they’re looking to really get on with their lives and for us, even in law enforcement, we view this as really a “second chance”, a re-entry type initiative. Where you can put that charge behind you, you can move on with your life, you can get on as Nancy stated earlier, you can get on and find that job, you can start to go to those family reunions and those things and reintegrate yourself back even with your family, with the community and become a productive citizen again not looking over your shoulders.

Leonard Sipes: Because again the focus groups that we did, you know they were saying in essence that he or she but the vast majority of these cases are hes, often times don’t feel they can go to get the job training or don’t feel that they can get the job, or they separate themselves from regular society because they believe they have a warrant so they separate themselves and they just don’t participate in the things that we want them to participate in. We want them to get a job, we want them to go for substance abuse counseling, we want them to get job training, we want them to be full and productive members of society. The other thing the focus groups tell us is that if you don’t have access to regular society, you’re gonna continue committing crimes. So, if we pull a couple hundred offenders into this program, we make this city of Washington D.C. and the entire metropolitan area safer. Nancy Ware.

Nancy Ware: Well, and also as your listeners will find if they go onto the website, we did get testimony from some of the folks who were, took advantage of this initiative in other cities and you know I think they walked in very nervous and not completely trusting of the process, but when they came out they were so relieved to have this off their record, to be able to move forward, to be able to work with the required personnel to deal with whatever the outcomes of their warrant situation were. So, we’ve been very pleased with what we’ve seen around the country from the other sites and D.C. is very excited about offering this to our citizens here in Washington.

Leonard Sipes: I think that comes to the heart and soul of the matter and either one of you can answer this question. Why should people involved in the lifestyle as we refer to it, why should people involved in criminality trust us? I mean why should they trust us? Isn’t that the heart and soul behind this whole campaign because what we’re saying is that if you meet the criteria that I mentioned and I’ll mention one more time before the end of the program, if you meet that criteria and you come to the Bible Way Church at 1100 New Jersey Avenue in Northwest Washington D.C. at the intersection of New York Avenue on the days that we mentioned November 1st to Saturday, November 3rd, hours of operation from 9 to 5, you’re in essence trusting us or the mother of the offender or the grandmother of the offender or the friends of the offender, it’s a trust factor. In one focus group that we spoke to that was the principle issue. They said by the way how are you going to get us to trust you, you guys within the criminal justice system?

Nancy Ware: Well, I think you touched on it. I think that the essence here of garnering and encouraging that trust is the fact that we are partnering with other faith based leadership within the city and that we’ve set this up in one of D.C.’s large church facilities which is Bible Way. It is a beautiful facility and many people who are residents of D.C. are familiar with this particular location and this church that has been extremely active in the community throughout the history of Washington, so we are very pleased to have this kind of partnership. We think that our other faith based leaders who will also be speaking on the Fugitive Safe Surrender initiative here in D.C. will also be encouraging their congregations to participate and we want that kind of message to go out to our citizens here and their families and folks who are worried about warrants so that they’ll know that we are sincerely anxious to provide an opportunity for them to use this as a trust factor with the D.C. law enforcement and public safety agencies so that we can show them that we can be trusted in this initiative and that this is something that we think will benefit not just public safety for the city, but also encourage folks who need to reintegrate back into the community and be able to become active participants and citizens of Washington D.C. To put all that negative stuff behind them.

Leonard Sipes: It is so interesting because in essence we’re saying hi, we’re the criminal justice system, trust us. You know we are dealing with folks who don’t trust A. the government and B. the criminal justice system. We’re working now with people who are doing a radio ad for us from the Maryland, D.C., Delaware Broadcasters Association. We’re in partnership with them in terms of getting the radio ad out and it is just an amazing concept. When I first sat down with very creative Emmy award winning people who had done public service ads and the broadcaster’s association does this sort of thing for lots of different groups. When I first sat down with them, the first thing they identified, the first thing everybody identifies is you’re gonna ask offenders who are wanted on warrants to trust you, to trust us. And the Bible Way Church and the other members of the faith based community both Muslim and Christian and Jewish coming together and basically saying yes you can trust us. Surrender or participate and get this behind you and in all probability according to what we’ve seen in other Safe Surrender cities, you’re gonna walk that day. Not everybody. If you’ve got a violent crime, but if you meet the criteria you’re probably going to walk out that day. Bernard.

Bernard Graham: That’s correct Len. That was very correct on that. From what we’ve seen in other cities around the country and from what we’re anticipating in the Washington D.C. area, that should be the case. One of the things when you’re talking about trust, I could only go back in my mind and I keep seeing Bible Way, Bible Way and again with the trust factor that is why we are, we’ve involved the church and we’ve partnered with them. We are really asking you and we are hoping that as we have seen in other cities that individuals will trust the faith based community. The church has been long standing here and as Nancy stated, this church is not new, not that there’s anything wrong with new churches, but this church is,

Leonard Sipes: It’s an institution.

Bernard Graham: Right. They’re an institution in D.C. and in the metropolitan area of Washington D.C. They have been active in the community. They are very well known and we’re hoping that because of that, that will send a message as it has in other cities that this is legitimate and that this is an opportunity for you to walk in and to start anew.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s why we’re so appreciative of Apostle James Silver. The person at Bible Way Church, the head person, and he is an institution in the Washington D.C.

Nancy Ware: He is the Bishop, yes.

Leonard Sipes: He is the Bishop and Nancy you said that a little while ago and in essence what he is saying is that he’s pledging his own personal word that the program will work as created. Right Nancy?

Nancy Ware: Right and again we are learning lessons from other sites around the country where folks we’re a little distrustful at first of this initiative in other sites and other locations in other cities. But what we’ve found was after the first few people came in the front door and everybody spread the word, there was a deluge of folks, loads of people who came in and took advantage of Fugitive Safe Surrender in other cities and we expect that the same will be true here. We’re attempting to build the trust and the partnership with our community here in Washington D.C. and we know that crime can’t be deterred and we can’t expect that we’re gonna make a headway with crime unless we have those kinds of partnerships so we have to forge these relationships and we have to do what we need to do to show our citizens that we can be trusted as law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Leonard Sipes: You know what’s interesting is you go all the way back to the President’s Commission on Crime and the criminal justice back in the 1960s where they were talking about the fact that the criminal justice system has to come together to form a partnership and to work on a cooperative basis. Now, the average person listening to this program doesn’t care about that. But it is rather unusual of those of us who have been in the criminal justice system that this is a cooperative effort with the U.S. Marshal Service, with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, with the Metropolitan Police Department, with the Courts, with the Parole Commission, with Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency who I represent. This has been just an across the board partnership with lots of agencies. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Am I leaving anybody out? The Attorney General’s Office, Pre-Trial Services, D.C. Corrections Department, it’s just a partnership of everybody coming together and working together because this is in the interest of virtually everyone touching the criminal justice system. This is of interest to virtually within the District. It’s gonna make the District safer I believe. People outside of society are going to commit fewer crimes. They’re gonna come back in to a faith based initiative. They’re gonna come back in and become part of legitimate society and stop committing crimes. The chances are much greater that they will end their criminality.

Nancy Ware: It’s a first step.

Leonard Sipes: It’s a first step Nancy.

Nancy Ware: This is a first step for many people and it’s a very important step that will allow them to move forward with their lives.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, I’m gonna do a summary of everything that we talked about today and you guys need to correct me. What is the criteria for participating in Fugitive Safe Surrender? There are five criteria.

1. Wanted for a non-violent offense.
2. Have no history of violence.
3. No extensive criminal history.
4. No domestic violence cases.
5. Adult offenders only.

The contact point for general public inquiries is going to be a telephone answering system, 202-585-SAFE, SAFE. 202-585-SAFE. I really encourage people to go on that website and listen to the people from Indianapolis who did surrender and why they surrendered because the one response on the part of one young woman who I interview was wahoo, it’s over, it’s done with. I mean she was filled with joy that not only was she walking out that day, but that her two year process of being on the lamb for a violation of probation warrant had ended.

Nancy Ware: It’s relief.

Leonard Sipes: It’s relief, that’s right absolute relief. So it’s www.dcsafesurrender.org. Now, again this is going to be where and when. It’s going to be at the Bible Way Church. It’s gonna be at the intersection of New York and New Jersey Avenues in Northwest Washington D.C. It’s real convenient from downtown. It’s real convenient from Union Station. It’s real convenient from the closest subway stop which is convention center. The hours and the days are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We’re talking about November 1st to November 3rd, the hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every single day. Okay, we are at our limit, do we have any followup comments? Nancy, congratulations on pulling this whole coalition together and brining that sense of great partnership. D.C. does have good partnership. I come from the Maryland criminal justice system. I’ve seen the fussing and fighting in Maryland and particularly Baltimore. You know, in D.C. there is a lot of cooperation and it’s because of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Nancy Ware: Well thank you Len. We’re very excited about this initiative. We want to thank the U.S. Marshal Service for their leadership, not just locally but nationally in this effort and we definitely want to thank CSOSA for the leadership in helping us to administer this. It’s been a very, it is continues to be a very ambitious effort and it’s taking all of our partners to make sure that it happens and it happens correctly. We want to encourage our citizens to tell your families and your friends to do the right thing and do it now.

Leonard Sipes: That’s the slogan of the campaign and I completely forgot to mention the slogan for the campaign. Do the right thing right now. Do the right thing right now. Bernard, I think congratulations does go the U.S. Marshal Service. This is a national program of the United States Marshal Service. I remember that movie that came out a little while ago, U.S. Marshal and this whole process of chasing down the bad guys and in this case people, with the criteria that I mentioned are going to come by the hundreds, and they’re gonna come in and they’re gonna peacefully surrender and they’re gonna make it the city safer, the metropolitan area safer and this is all through an initiative, a national initiative of the U.S. Marshal Service.

Bernard Graham: Thank you Len and in taking some of that credit, I think we will be remiss as U.S. Marshal Service if we did not remind everyone and really send our thanks to all of the partnering agencies and I cannot remember if we mentioned MPD, the Metropolitan Police Department

Leonard Sipes: Oh, absolutely, the Metropolitan Police Department is very involved in this.

Bernard Graham: All of the partners, we could not have done this in the D.C. metro area without a few of the special partners. Number 1 being Bible Way, naturally, and Apostle Silver, but also the CJCC and CSOSA. We could not have even put this initiative together. So, I particularly want to thank all of the partners involved, but particularly those individuals and those organizations who really were the glue behind this total initiative on behalf of U.S. Marshals. Thank you.

Leonard Sipes: 202-585-SAFE is the telephone number. 202-585-SAFE. The web address is www.dcsafesurrender.org. Ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety, my name is Leonard Sipes, have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

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Fugitive Safe Surrender in Washington, D.C.

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This Television Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/?p=18

[Video Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi and Welcome to D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host Len Sipes. In November of 2007, over 530 individuals voluntarily surrendered to the Bible Way Church in Northwest Washington, D.C. These individuals had a variety of warrants ranging from criminal to some traffic warrants. It’s an extraordinarily interesting concept called Fugitive Safe Surrender and to talk about the program we have two principles with us today. We have Paul Quander, the Director of my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and we have Nancy Ware, the Director of the D.C. Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Paul and Nancy, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Paul Quander and Nancy Ware: Thanks for having us.

Leonard Sipes: Nancy, the first question will go to you. Now from what I understand this is a National Program of the U.S. Marshal Service and the U.S. Marshal in Washington, D.C., Steve Convoy, brought this concept to you as the Director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, correct?

Nancy Ware: That’s correct. Steve came to us probably two years ago to present the concept and how it would run in Cleveland, Ohio which was the first site that actually instituted Fugitive Safe Surrender, so that was their experimental site and he presented it to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council which is a group of all the law enforcement and public safety agencies in Washington and everyone was very enthusiastic about it; very excited about the opportunity that would be made available to D.C. folks who had outstanding warrants and wanted to turn themselves in peacefully in faith institution. So, at that point, we began to talk more about what it would entail to bring all of the principles together, all the various agencies, all the moving parts together and institute this initiative in D.C. and in the interim we actually had opportunities to send D.C. criminal justice and public safety agency representatives to other sites that were also instituting Fugitive Safe Surrender in their sites.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and I was one of those people and I went to the Indianapolis Fugitive Safe Surrender site and saw first hand how it worked. Paul Quander, this was an extraordinarily difficult undertaking from the stand point of a wide variety of criminal justice agencies. We’re talking about the U.S. Attorneys Office, we’re talking about D.C. Corrections, and we’re talking about Pretrial Services. The agencies goes on and on- The United States Marshal Service, the Metropolitan Police Department. Those of us in the criminal justice system know that it’s very difficult to bring all those agencies, put them all in one spot, and to agree on anything and you pretty much lead this organizing effort.

Paul Quander: It was a great undertaking, but the one thing that we had going for us was a common purpose. All of the principles at that initial meeting agree that we would undertake this and we had the infrastructure already in place through the leadership of Nancy Ware and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, so it’s a natural fit for us. It was difficult at times, but well worth the effort. You mentioned some of the agencies but on a total, there were 13 different agencies, both local and federal that came together to make this work and what we essentially had to do was to take everything that is in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and move it to Bible Way Church and not only are you talking about people but you’re talking about the infrastructure. You’re talking about the computers, you’re talking about the telephone network, you’re talking about all the things that make Superior Court work from interpreters to all those special individuals that provide that service, so that an individual who turns himself in will get the benefit of coming in, getting favorable consideration, getting that warrant resolved, and moving on and having a second chance at life. So, it’s well worth it. Everyone saw the potential, the good that this could do, so it was a labor of love, but it was a labor.

Leonard Sipes: And talk a little bit about the concept of the Fugitive Safe Surrender. They are nonviolent individuals with nonviolent histories and we do a media campaign and we invite them to voluntarily come in and get favorable consideration.

Paul Quander: Right, there are a lot of individuals in the District of Columbia and in other communities across the country that has nonviolent warrants. Some for traffic offenses, some misdemeanor offenses, some felony offenses, a lot of drug offenses; these are nonviolent offenders and they have warrants that are outstanding. Either because of probation violations, parole violations, they have failed to appear in court, there are some pretrial matters that they failed to resolve and they walked away from the system and these individuals are out there and they’re living on the margins and what we decided to do was, we needed to bring them in. We need to get them out of the shadows and bring them in so that they can get the services and get on with their lives. So, it was a tremendous undertaking but the reward was going to be significant for our community as a whole. So, that’s why it took planning. It took the cooperation of every agency, not on the principle but the individuals that actually do the heavy lifting and organizations, to sit down, to plan it out, all of the details to coordinate all of the services to make sure the things ran smoothly because if they don’t run smoothly, you don’t have a successful program and we were able to pull all those pieces together and get everybody to work together. There were endless meetings, but those are the type of meetings that you don’t mind having because you see the proof at the end of the day and we were able to do that and so it turned out to be a marvelous event for everyone that was there.

Leonard Sipes: I agree. Nancy Ware, a lot of the offenders, let’s talk about them coming in. You know this is an interesting concept. I come from a law enforcement background years ago. I would go out with a squad of six or seven other police officers. We’d knock on doors. We’d have a hand full of warrants. If we apprehended six people that night, that was an extraordinary big night for us. Ordinarily we’d get one or two from an entire night’s worth of work, maybe three. In this case, we got 530. One of the offenders who came in to voluntarily surrender walked about 20 miles in suburban Maryland to downtown D.C. to give himself up. His mother asked him to do it on her birthday. We had another person, 1st in line on the first day, who just went out and did lots of television broadcasts basically saying, hallelujah, this is a wonderful thing. We have mothers bringing their sons in. We had one offender who was in prison, I think, for 20 years who brought his father in on a drug warrant and all of these people had what I considered to be an emotional reaction and were so pleased with the idea of putting this warrant behind them, having a new court date. Talk to me about that process.

Nancy Ware: Well that’s part of what made it so exciting. It was something to behold watching people come in the door and every person had a story on their face. You had an opportunity as an agency, as a member of the District of Columbia public service agency to be able to offer folks, not just a second chance, but also a second chance with dignity so that they didn’t have to go through the scenario that you described where someone was coming to their door and knocking on their door, and taking them away potentially in handcuffs in front of their children or in some cases, having to kick down their door and taking away them in front of their family. This offered them a lot of support at our Fugitive Safe Surrender initiative. We had 40 volunteers from Bible Way Church, from Howard University, from our staff throughout our agencies, everyone treated every single individual with the utmost respect and that was something that really left you feeling like this was an effort that was well worth it as Paul said. It was a labor of love and people came in, they were fed, they were provided a safe relaxed environment, family members could wait for their loved ones who had to go to court, they could actually go into the court rooms with their family members. Again, everyone was treated with respect. The volunteers were wonderful, they talked to the families, they made sure that the families were kept abreast of what was going on in the process, so it was really a wonderful opportunity to show our residents in D.C. that we do care about them and we do want them to succeed and many people were ready to take advantage of that.

Leonard Sipes: And we also offered drug treatment services and employment services. It was across the board. Paul, I can’t think of any downfalls to Fugitive Safe Surrender the way that we did it with Washington, D.C. It seems to be continuous pluses across the board. From the stand point of protecting police officers. So many police officers are injured or killed in the process of serving the very kind of warrants where these people voluntarily came in to getting them reintegrated in society, instead of being on the outside putting them into regular society. I don’t see any minuses with this.

Paul Quander: There was no minus whatsoever. That’s why when the principles got together when Marshall Convoy brought this to us, we all agreed that it was a good thing. Now with stating that, how are we going to make it happen. How are we going to make it work and there are many pitfalls from the idea until reality so that’s where we had to come together. That’s where we had to work because there are the benefits. You mentioned that individuals voluntarily turned themselves in which is absolutely phenomenal. You don’t have to go out, you don’t have to chase, you don’t have to run, and no one is hurt in the process. People come in because they want to come in. They want to come in because their coming to a church, they’re coming to a safe environment, they’re coming into a place that has always provided sanctuary. It’s the place where they feel comfortable, that they can trust what is being said is really going to happen and then from that first day when people actually came in and they had their cases resolved. When they actually saw that there were real judges there, there were prosecutors there, there were defense attorneys that were there that could answer their questions and not only that as Nancy indicated, there were social services there. So if an individual had a drug problem, they were actually signed up right there on the spot to go into APRA’s program and APRA of course is the drug treatment and prevention program for the District of Columbia. The Department of Employment Services was there so if a person was looking for a job, they had referrals that were right there. They had the big van out front of the church. So, you had all these social services that were there and everything is designed to make the person whole again. So, we’ve moved from a very contentious, a very dangerous situation involving a confrontation on a lonely street between a police officer and an individual who has a warrant who may do anything when they panic and you remove that completely when that person comes in and gets that matter resolved and you don’t have that confrontation then. So the police officer wins. The individual in the community that had that warrant wins. The surrounding neighbors win. That individual’s family wins. The criminal justice system as a whole wins. It’s a win win proposition.

Leonard Sipes: Nancy, the importance of Bible Way, it’s a major church in Northwest Washington, D.C. Apostle James Silver is the pastor, and we are very grateful to him, but that was the important feature was it not? The individuals turning themselves into a well-known church and a faith based institution. That was the comfort level that they needed to do this, correct?

Nancy Ware: Right. Bible Way is an icon in D.C. It’s a historical institution, faith institution in Washington. Many people at Bible Way are very committed to this kind of activity to try to be sure to provide outreach to the community to support folks who may have had mishaps in their lives or downtrodden and have had problems and so this was a natural setting. In addition, Bible Way had the facility that we needed. The footage in the church was perfect for what we’re trying to do and it had taken us quite a while to find just the right setting where we had plenty of room, plenty of space because as Paul said, we were bringing court rooms into the church facility.

Leonard Sipes: Right and that was really unusual. Nancy, you’ve got the final word on the first segment. Nancy and Paul thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, watch us on the next segment where we continue our discussion of Fugitive Safe Surrender in Washington, D.C. What you’re going to see now is some television footage, some television coverage of the Safe Surrender Program. After the footage, we’ll be right back. Stay with us.

Karen Gray Houston: These people are fugitives. At the doors to Bible Way Temple open today at least 25 of them lined up. It’s a U.S. Marshals service initiative to get nonviolent offenders to surrender. That’s why Willie Jones turned himself in.

Willie Jones: Because I had a warrant and I was tired of running and I know this is a good program and the right thing to do.

Karen Gray Houston: Jones was wanted for selling drugs, heroine and ignored a date in court.

Willie Jones: I just didn’t feel comfortable walking in the court house.

Karen Gray Houston: You thought they’d put you in jail.

Willie Jones: Yes ma’am.

Karen Gray Houston: The Fugitive Safe Surrender program is set up so fugitives avoid handcuffs and to keep police from knocking on their door in the middle of the night.

Paul Quander: No chasing, no danger to the public, no danger to the law enforcement officers and no danger to the citizens.

Karen Gray Houston: Inside the church, various local and federal agencies are available to help. Public Defenders so fugitives can consult a lawyer, drug treatment if needed, even make-shift court rooms so judges can hear a guilty plea or set a court date. Authorities wanted to signal offenders that this will be a safe process, relatively painless, and convenient so what better place to do it than a church? James Silver is pastor here at Bible Way.

James Silver: What I would tell anyone out there is do the right thing. Get it over with and in view of the fact that the judge will show favorable consideration.

Karen Gray Houston: There are no promises of absolute amnesty, but Willie Jones has a different reason for surrendering now.

Willie Jones: My parents are old. They need me.

Karen Gray Houston: His sister says Willie’s been in and out of trouble and wants to turn his life around.

Willie Jones’ Sister: He’s ready. He said he’s ready to go flip burgers at McDonalds. So, he’s ready.

Karen Gray Houston: Now he has the support from loved ones and help from the community to get a second chance. Karen Gray Houston, Fox 5 News.

News Desk: Now a total of 75 people surrendered today and only 1 was arrested. The others were either sent home with a new court date or they had their cases thrown out all together.

Allison Starling: Next on ABC 7 news at 5, wanted fugitives turn up at a local church to surrender.

Leon Harris: Find out why they all showed up to turn themselves in. That’s next on ABC 7 news at 5. Don’t go away.

Allison Starling: So far 140 D.C. fugitives have turned themselves in to the U.S. Marshals.

Leon Harris: And it’s all because of the Safe Surrender Program. It’s a program that runs through Saturday at Bible Way Church. Our D.C. Bureau Chief, Sam Ford tells us tonight as in other cities where this program has been offered, most got to go home.

Sam Ford: His sister Tammy at his side, Willie Jones who skipped out on sentencing a year ago for selling Heroine was the first to turn himself in today.

Willie Jones: It’s no way to live and since I walked in this morning, my life has gotten real better.

Sam Ford: He’s one of dozens of fugitives tired of looking over their shoulders for the police who turned themselves in at Bible Way Church on the Safe Surrender Program. More than 100 volunteers, plus marshals, parole officers, and judges process fugitives with outstanding warrants from traffic offenses on up.

Rufus King: This is not an amnesty program where the case doesn’t go away automatically just because you come in but you have a warrant, you’ve been running, now is the time you can stop running.

Leonard Sipes: Welcome back to D.C. Public Safety, I continue to be your host Len Sipes. Back on our set is Paul Quander and the Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and we have Cliff Keenan, the Deputy Director of Pretrial Services in Washington, D.C. Paul, Cliff, welcome back to D.C. Public Safety. Cliff, the first question is going to go to you because you greeted virtually everybody who walked in through that door. You were right at the front part of that process. It’s an amazing and technical process. Tell me a little bit about the different people coming in. Were they worried, were they scared, were they hopeful? Did you get any sense of emotion as people walked in through that door?

Cliff Keenan: Len, actually it was not just my staff with Pretrial Services Agency but we also have to very much thank the pastor for getting so many of his volunteers from his church and other churches to actually greet the people who were coming to turn themselves in.

Leonard Sipes: And that was the initial greeting. The greeting was from the volunteers from the church.

Cliff Keenan: Correct, and they took the time to explain if persons didn’t have a good understand about what was going to happen. They explained what the process was going to be about and then after the initial greeting and the persons were escorted down to our check in station, that’s where our staff then took over in terms of further explaining what was to be expected. We did a very methodical check in order to make sure that persons who came in with family members or friends, or with children because we also had a childcare facility set up for those persons who had children.

Leonard Sipes: And I saw persons who were pushing basinets into the church and in some cases the mother bringing in 2 kids at one time. I mean she had to be fairly secure with her situation to bring her kids in so bringing your kids in to surrender on a criminal warrant, that’s an interesting observation isn’t it?

Cliff Keenan: Very much so and I think for the most part, everybody who is involved, be it the volunteers or the staff from the various agencies, took the time to really explain the process and the people would be at least as comfortable as possible when they were going to be receiving favorable consideration, was the hallmark of this. No promises could be made to anybody but they did I think understand from the very beginning, from the time that the volunteers greeted them, that people were looking out for their best interests as much as possible.

Leonard Sipes: Paul, what happened is they went to a defense attorney that was provided for free so they could discuss their legal options before going in to see the judges from the Superior Court to make a disposition on their case or the U.S. Parole Commission.

Paul Quander: That’s right. Even before they got to the opportunity to speak with the defense attorney, members of the staff from the Pretrial Services Agency actually did a thorough review of their outstanding warrants to make sure that we had all of the warrants. We wanted to make sure that we took care of everything that was there on the table. Once that was done and we identified any outstanding matters, then the individuals were escorted to the waiting area by church volunteers. Again, very friendly, very nonthreatening atmosphere, where they were greeted by other volunteers. They sat, there were TVs that were available, there were snacks that were available, then they were paired with an attorney and they talked about the individual cases. There were traffic attorneys who specialized in traffic matters; there were representatives from the Public Defenders Service that spoke with everyone else that had a non traffic matter. And so, after they spoke, they sat down and waited until it was time to go back to the court, but we didn’t have that as just empty time because there we had members from APRA the drug treatment program that were there to do assessments and to sign people up. So, if they needed drug treatment, if they wanted drug treatment, they could actually decide that right there on spot. We also had Unity Health fair that was there, Unity Health Services that was providing all sorts of health information, health related information to individuals. So, we tried to have an environment which provided social services as well as the criminal justice issue so that when the person walked out of the door, we wanted to make sure that person left in a much better position than when he or she came in.

Leonard Sipes: And most of them walked out of the door with these huge smiles on their faces. I mean, media interviewed them as they walked out the door, Cliff and in the Afro American in D.C. there was a photo of as mother and daughter just hugging each other and it was a very emotional time. We let people bring the family members in. We talked about kids in daycare. Mothers brought their sons down saying I’m sick and tired of worrying about the police knocking on my door at 3:00 in the morning. You’re going to Fugitive Safe Surrender and you’re going to surrender, so you saw the family members come in correct?

Cliff Keenan: Absolutely and as I said, I think everybody involved in the process was so supportive and when you also had the family member or the close friend who is accompanying the individual, it clearly was almost overwhelming to the point where the emotions took over and they realized that they had no choice but to take care of the matters that brought them there that day.

Leonard Sipes: I do want to talk a little bit about the technical parts of it because one of the reasons why I wanted you on this show is that you were so intimately involved in the entire process from a technical point of view. I saw your emails on a day to day basis, changing the script, changing the flow, negotiating with other partners in the criminal justice system. I mean Paul lead the charge. It was the U.S. Marshall Service and Paul leading the charge though organizing. You were in charge of the intimate details as to how it would work. Tell me a little bit about that.

Cliff Keenan: Well I think the most important thing was giving every agency the assurance and the confidence that things were going to be done right. There were a lot of questions as Paul just alluded to as to whether or not somebody coming in that every warrant would be identified and handled. So, we wanted to insure that in working with the U.S. Attorneys Office and working with the Office of the Attorney General, and working with Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and working with the judges and working with the Parole Commission, that we would do as thorough a job as one could imagine in terms of identifying those warrants.

Leonard Sipes: And you basically did it without a glitch. Can you imagine, this is sort of like an emergency operation center in the event of a hurricane. That’s basically what we set up: a court system, a pretrial system, a public defender system, we set up all these systems within the basement of a church. Now, that takes a tremendous amount of detail to pull that off.

Cliff Keenan: And it was successfully pulled off. Again, everybody who is involved with the program from the start through finish, could not identify any downsides to it in terms of both the results within the various agencies within the criminal justice system for Washington, D.C. and most importantly for the individuals who came and took advantage of this program. Let’s not fool ourselves, you know some people did end up getting stepped back is the expression.

Leonard Sipes: Well, out of the 530, there were 10 individuals who were arrested for violent crimes or for escaping correctional facilities so these individuals were arrested. But 10 out of 530 is a tremendous compromise in terms of the Superior Court, in terms of everybody in the criminal justice system. Paul don’t you agree?

Paul Quander: It is and one of the benefits that we haven’t talked about is the fact that all of the agencies were represented and as you just eluded to, we were all under one roof and there were no barriers, so for the first time in my almost 30 years in the criminal justice field, we had all of these agencies under one roof and people could actually see who their counterparts were from the other agencies and there was this comradery that grew from the U.S. Attorneys Office working so closely with the Public Defenders Service, working so closely with people from the Superior Court, working so closely with CSOSA my agency and the Office of the Attorney General. All under one roof with one purpose. It was just a wonderful thing to see government working so well for the benefit of the community and it’s the first time I’ve experienced that in my career and that’s something that will stay with me forever. To see us come together, to work together, and to produce a product like we produced with universal appeal. It’s just a fantastic event.

Leonard Sipes: And the viewers need to understand that this is an extremely rare. Those of us who have been around the criminal justice system any amount of time, any length of time, know that it’s really difficult to bring everybody together. I was part of the media effort and the Public Defenders office didn’t want an area photographed and they came along and said, you can’t do this. Those compromises were made instantaneously, not just from the media side but from the operational side. It seemed as if everybody simply said, we’re going to do whatever needs to be done to make this work and that is extremely rare.

Paul Quander: We had a lot of caucuses which meant that we could pull together, get the key people in and talk about an issue, resolve it and then do it which is fantastic. We didn’t have to write memos. We didn’t have to get approval. We caucused, we made a decision, and we moved forward and the program flowed perfectly.

Leonard Sipes: Now, the Superior Court, needless to say, they played a huge role in this because their judges basically had to (A) buy into the concept of the program, (B) keep the integrity of the operational values of the Superior Court and to keep all of that rolling. This statement has nothing to do with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia but I’ve always found judges to be a bit cantankerous and justifiably so in terms of the integrity of the court and the fact that that it, Cliff, was satisfied and I think is a testimony to the planning and the level of compromise that went into Fugitive Safe Surrender.

Cliff Keenan: Absolutely, as Paul said. The caucusing, the discussions, the conversations; these have been going on for months and the judges were very much a part of the conversation. This wasn’t anything that was being thrust upon them. They had a stake, not just for those offenders coming in who had probation matters for which warrants have been issued, but also for those defendants who had pretrial matters for which warrants have been issued. Giving the judges that the assurance that the upfront work, the recommendations, the full assessment as to who they are, and ultimately the recommendation from the prosecutor or from the Court Services, Community Supervision Officers, this was all going into having the judge do what the judge would have been doing down at the court house in any event and it was all there for them, for those cases that ended up in front of a judge.

Leonard Sipes: And to show you the level of complexity, I can remember the one lady who came in while we were in training and I was standing outside and she comes up and surrenders. She thinks that she has a warrant. Her husband, her estranged husband, said that he was going to take out a warrant against her for battery. She’s been living this for 4 or 5 months, living in fear, and she goes down and suddenly finds there is no warrant and a certain amount of people coming in didn’t’ have warrants and they thought they had warrants and certainly that has to be a big relief to them. At the same time could you imagine a police officer stopping that individual on the street and that person suddenly takes off or becomes threatening because they think they have a warrant but they really don’t.

Paul Quander: Across the country, D.C. was the 7th site in which Fugitive Safe Surrender has been undertaken and the prior six sites, about 15% of the individuals turning themselves in across the country did not have warrants so that’s something that is not unique to the District of Columbia. Warrants expire under certain circumstances and certain jurisdictions, other times people are under mistaken belief that they have a warrant but their living as if. It goes back to the old saying, if you perceive it, it’s real.

Leonard Sipes: If you perceive it it’s real. We do want thank, before the program ends, we do want to thank the United States Marshall Service for what they did to bring this program to us. It’s been successful throughout the country.

Paul Quander: Right and they took a leadership role in bringing it here to the District and working with us to make it a reality.

Leonard Sipes: And Paul you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching D.C. Public Safety. Watch for us next time as we explore a very important part of the criminal justice system. Have yourselves a pleasant day.
[Video Ends]

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