DC Fugitive Safe Surrender Interview from WPGC

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=58

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

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

See www.dcsafesurrender.org for the web page for Fugitive Safe Surrender in Washington, DC.
Guy Lambert: Hey folks. Welcome back to Community Focus. Thanks so much for sticking around with us this morning. I’m your host, WPGC’s news director, Guy Lambert. Well, it’s no secret a number of people right here in the D.C. area have had a run in with the law. Now in most cases, the issue would be rectified in a court of law. But then there are those who avoid the law and are dubbed as being a fugitive. That’s where the Court Services in Offender Supervision Agency for D.C. come into play. I’m pleased to say that I’m joined during this segment by Mr. Paul Quander. He is the director for Court Services in Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia and he’s here to tell us about the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program. Mr. Quander, got to say thank you so much for joining us and welcome to Community Focus.

Paul Quander: Thanks for having me today, I really appreciate it.

Guy Lambert: Very interesting topic. We are talking about the Fugitive Safe Surrender program which is being implemented right here in Washington D.C. Bring us up to speed. What exactly is taking place?

Paul Quander: Well, what is taking place is a national effort that was started in 2005 in Cleveland, Ohio and essentially in Cleveland, a minister, a prosecutor and a police officer got together and they thought about a way that they could bring the community together. There are a lot of individuals out there in various communities that have outstanding warrants for non-violent offenders and they’re out there, they’re not participating in programs and they’re running for the law. They can’t get their lives back together.

Guy Lambert: Right.

Paul Quander: So, it was thought that there was a way that we can bring people in without having to go and knock on people’s doors at 3: 00 or 4: 00 in the morning, disturbing the family and so what they did is they invited through a church, instead of going and surrendering in the court or with a law enforcement agency, they brought the church in because the church is always been the foundation of our community. And so they got with a local minister there and that minister opened up his door. They were expecting to get maybe 50 people in. They had over 800 individuals that walked in off of the street. And the beauty of the program is that everything that was at the courthouse was there at the church. When I say everything, I mean judges, lawyers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, interpreters, court reporters. Everything that would happen at a courthouse was there at the church. And the real beauty of it was that people came in of their own volition, they came in with their grandmothers, they came in with their children, they came in with their support mechanisms. But the main thing was, they were able to get those warrants resolved that very day and the vast majority, over 90 percent of the people that walked in the front door, walked out of that same front door that same day.

Guy Lambert: Wow.

Paul Quander: So we had those matters resolved and they got on with their lives and we wanted to do that same thing here in the District of Columbia and that’s where we are. We’re excited about it, we’re going to be at Bible Way Church in northwest Washington at 1100 New Jersey Avenue on November 1 through November 3, so that’s Thursday through Saturday from 9 until 5 and we’re hoping to attract as many individuals who have outstanding warrants in the District of Columbia, non-violent warrants, to come in and to turn themselves in and have those matters resolved, right there at Bible Way Church.

Guy Lambert: Okay. First thing, now once again this is taking place at the Bible Way Baptist Church on what date again?

Paul Quander: It will be Thursday, November the 1st through Saturday, November the 3rd.

Guy Lambert: Okay, and that’s located in the 1100 block of what again?

Paul Quander: Of New Jersey Avenue, northwest Washington D.C.

Guy Lambert: And from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., if I have an outstanding warrant in regard to it not being violent, if you will,

Paul Quander: That’s correct.

Guy Lambert: I can turn myself in.

Paul Quander: That’s right. And when we’re talking about non-violent warrants, misdemeanor warrants, traffic warrants. There are a lot of individuals that have traffic warrants that are outstanding and you can get those resolved during this period as well and that’s why it’s called Fugitive Safe Surrender and one of the big things about it is, it’s at the church and you can take care of those matters and get on with your life.

Guy Lambert: You stated that 90 percent of the folk who walked in, now what church was this out in what state, I’m sorry.

Paul Quander: This was in Cleveland

Guy Lambert: In Cleveland.

Paul Quander: Yes.

Guy Lambert: 90 percent of the folks that walked in there that had a warrant were able to walk out.

Paul Quander: Well actually Guy, it’s bigger than that, because Cleveland was just the first site. After Cleveland, it was done in Phoenix and 1,300 people turned themselves in Phoenix. So it’s been in Phoenix, it’s been in Indianapolis, it’s been in Nashville.

Paul Quander: Akron and just 2 weeks ago it was in Memphis, Tennessee and 1,600 individuals walked in, turned themselves in and less than 60 individuals were detained. So, the vast majority of individuals who qualify for this program, they get correct, they get their matters resolved and they go on with their life. One of the other interesting things is that although this is we’re stressing non-violent offenders, some offenders who have violent warrants outstanding turn themselves in knowing that they are not going to be released. But they want to turn themselves in to a safe place and what better place to turn yourself into than a man of God at his church which he is opening up. So, we’re expecting people to come in, many of the people that turn themselves in will have their matters resolved, will have a new court date set, they will get on with their lives and that’s what we want. The community as a whole benefits.

Guy Lambert: Had this event not taken place at a church, would those 90 percent that we referred to earlier, would they have walked out the door at a courthouse, per se?

Paul Quander: Yes. They would have, but the rub is who you gonna believe.

Guy Lambert: Right.

Paul Quander: You gonna believe the law enforcement that says come on in and trust me or are you gonna believe a member of the church who has been in this community for years and that’s why we, we wanted this partnership because that you know there have been many guises, many tricks so to speak and things of that nature and we wanted to make sure that the men and women who have outstanding D.C. warrants knew that this wasn’t a game that’s being played. This is the real thing because what we’re interested in doing is getting people back to doing positive things. Getting them back in their children’s lives, getting them back to going to PTA and Little League and football games with their families. If you have a warrant, you can’t do that. You’re always worried about being stopped. You’re worried about being in the car with your children and running a red light and having an officer pull you over and arrest you in front of your children. And a lot of the warrants that are outstanding again are for non-violent offenses. People who had court dates and didn’t show up for court, people that had probation warrants who walked away from probation and parole warrants as well. All of these individuals are welcome to participate and will qualify.

Guy Lambert: So, once again, anyone that has a non-violent offense and that has a warrant, those are the folks that you are actually looking for.

Paul Quander: Right in the District of Columbia.

Guy Lambert: In the District of okay. Now what about juveniles.

Paul Quander: Juveniles, we could not do it this time because we have to keep the juveniles separate from the adults. But depending on the success of the program, we may offer something in the future for juvenile offenders.

Guy Lambert: Let’s say, quick question here. Let’s say, I did something in the past, not to sure or can’t, it’s been so long ago I can’t even remember. I’m not sure if I have a warrant. How do I go about to find out if I do have a warrant?

Paul Quander: The best thing to do because of privacy issues, because when you call we don’t know who’s on the other end of the line.

Guy Lambert: Right.

Paul Quander: And so there’s no way to verify that. The best thing to do is to come down to the church. We will have the capability of identifying any warrant that anyone may have anywhere in the country. The Unites States Marshals Service which is the founding partner of this, this program will be present and so we’ll be able to identify and amazingly enough, in each of the jurisdictions, the six prior jurisdictions, up to 10 percent of the people that turned themselves in didn’t have a warrant.

Guy Lambert: Wow.

Paul Quander: The warrants had either been expunged, they had expired or, in fact, there just was no warrant. So those people came in thinking that they had a warrant. But just think, they were running around, they were hiding, they were looking over their shoulders for God knows how long, when they really didn’t need to.

Guy Lambert: Can I bring someone with me because I’m nervous, I’m not sure what’s gonna happen and like you said earlier, I would like to bring Grandma or my kids with me.

Paul Quander: Absolutely. We will, we welcome parents, we welcome any support personnel. It doesn’t have to be a family member. If there’s a support person in your life that you would like to accompany you when you turn yourself in, please do so. We have space available. We have 20,000 square feet of space at the church. So Bible Way is perfect in so many ways, the location, just it’s prison ministry history, but also it has a lot of space and we plan on using every bit of it to make sure that family members are comfortable, that children are taken care of, that services will be provided. There will be representatives from Apra, which is the District of Columbia’s drug treatment program there, there will be representatives from the Department of Employment Services which is the District of Columbia’s labor and employment services, so we want people to, to come to be whole again. Not just get straight with the warrant, but if you need drug treatment, we want to sign you up. If you need jobs, we want to sign you up. If there are other services that you need, we want to have that connection right there. So, we’re looking at a holistic approach to dealing with individuals and trying to get them back to where we need them to be.

Guy Lambert: When we’re talking about non-violent crimes, what would be a considered a violent crime?

Paul Quander: A violent crime would be any armed defense. It would be your carjackings, your kidnappings, your robberies, your burglaries, things of that nature that have a pretty fundamental idea of what is a violent crime.

Guy Lambert: What about a, not to get you off, but what about a sex offender.

Paul Quander: A sex offender, that would be a violent crime.

Guy Lambert: Okay.

Paul Quander: And so those individuals would not be eligible for the favorable consideration in a sense of there’s a likelihood that they would be walking out of the front door or released. Those individuals we need to make sure that we have good information and more information then you would normally get in a very quick hearing. That is why we concentrated on the non-violent offenders. But when we talk about non-violent offenders, a large number of those individuals are going to be traffic cases, they’re gonna be drug cases, they’re going to be possession with intent to distribute cases, they’re going to be simple possession. So, a lot of individuals will come in who have that type of offense, who have been running from the law, who can come in and get those matters resolved. We have a website that is at www.dcsafesurrender.org and we have frequently asked questions and we have an entire list of those offenses that are considered violent offenses by statute. So, I would invite the listeners to go to the website, again it’s www.dcsafesurrender.org and take a look at those offenses and all of the other information that we have available. We think that the more information that we can get out there, the more people will take a look at it and more people will decide to come on in and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

Guy Lambert: What are people saying. Out of curiosity, those that you have come into contact with that have actually had a warrant and maybe some of their family members. What do they say about this program?

Paul Quander: They say it’s a it’s a Godsend. About 3 years ago, a young man came to me, Chester Hines, who runs a program out in southeast on Martin Luther King Avenue and he said we grew up together right here in D.C. and he knew I was the director of CSOSA and he said look, I have friend, a young lady who has a warrant outstanding on here and she’s been running. She’s been ducking and dodging, but she’s got her life together, but she’s afraid. She wants to get her life back. What can you do for her? So he brought her in, we worked with her, the warrant was from the United State Parole Commission, we talked to the Parole Commission, we verified that she was doing very well and the Parole Commission withdrew the warrant and this young lady got back her life. Unfortunately, she died a short time thereafter. That’s always stayed with me. That this woman did the right thing, she got control of her drug treatment, of her drug issue, she changed her life around, but she still had that warrant that was hanging over her head.

Guy Lambert: Wow.

Paul Quander: So, if we could have gotten to her with a program like this earlier, she could have enjoyed her life more. I got a call yesterday from a young man because we’ve been getting the word out who says look I need to tell myself in now and I can’t wait until Thursday. So, we are working with him and we’re trying to get him in and, in fact, people can turn themselves in now to a superior court pre-trial services at 500 Indiana Avenue. But on Thursday, November 1st, we’ll have everything right there, very convenient for you so you can walk in and get your matters resolved.

Guy Lambert: And once again, that will take place at Bible Way Baptist Church in the 1100 block of New Jersey Avenue from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Thursday, November the 1st through November the 3rd. Is that correct?

Paul Quander: That is correct. But Guy, let me just, one other thing. Sometimes people like to wait till the last minute. Don’t wait. Saturday 5: 00, the doors have to close, so we need people to come out early, people will be there to process ’em, to get them in, get them out, get them back with their families and we want people to take advantage of it as soon as they possibly can beginning on Thursday, November the 1st.

Guy Lambert: And one more time, for more information what telephone number can folks call and is there a website and I know you stated it earlier, what’s that address one more time.

Paul Quander: Well, let me give you the phone number. It’s 202-585-SAFE, S A F E, so 202-585-SAFE or 7233 and the website again is www.dcsafesurrender.org.

Guy Lambert: Alright, very good. Once again, Mr. Paul Quander, he is the director of Court Services in Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia. Truly a pleasure to meet you sir, such a great program. I really hope it works out. Please get back to us and let us know how it all turns out.

Paul Quander: Will do. Thank you so much for your support. We really appreciate it.

Guy Lambert: Alright folks. Stick around. We’re going to take a quick break. More community focus coming up next right here of WPGC AM and FM morning side of Washington D.C.

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