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

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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/

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[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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