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

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

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

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

[Audio Begins]

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

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

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

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

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

Debra Rowe:  Child support.

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

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

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

Debra Rowe:  That’s right, yes.

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

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

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

Debra Rowe:  Thank you.

[Audio Ends]


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

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

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

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

[Audio Begins]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willie Jones: Thank you Mr. Cedric.

[Audio Ends]


DC Safe Surrender 2011 – An Interview with Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

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

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-2011-an-interview-with-deputy-mayor-for-public-safety-paul-quander/

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

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks:  Hello, this is Cedric Hendricks and welcome to DC Public Safety.  Today we’ll be speaking with Mr. Paul Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice about DC Safe Surrender.  Welcome Mr. Quander.

Paul Quander:  Hello, how are you?

Cedric Hendricks:  Could you tell us what is DC Safe Surrender?

Paul Quander:  DC Safe Surrender is an opportunity where all of the law enforcement partners, local, federal, judicial, legislative, have come together to provide an opportunity for men and women who have misdemeanor warrants and low level warrants, to provide them with an opportunity to turn themselves in to reconnect with their community and their lives.  It’s an opportunity for people to come get correct so that they can move on with their lives.  It’s an opportunity so that they can come, so that we can get a lot of these old outstanding warrants resolved so that individuals can move on, so they can get jobs, so they can continue their career.  So it’s an opportunity to move forward.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now what is a public safety benefit for the individual and this community by allowing an opportunity for people to come in and self-surrender?

Paul Quander:  There is a significant overall public safety benefit.  The more people that come in voluntarily, the less law enforcement resources need to be expended to look for, to search for individuals.  The other thing is that it helps us to continue to connect with the community.  We want to be in the business of preventing crimes.  We want to be in the business of trying to reestablish our communities and making sure that they’re safe places to live.  A lot of the people that we’re targeting have turned their lives around.  They are no longer involved in any type of criminal conduct.  So they have gone the right path.  So now it’s time for them just to come on in, let us take care of these outstanding issues, let’s make it right and then let’s move forward.  So there’s a significant public safety implication here.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now DC Safe Surrender was first done back in 2007 and you were instrumental in making that happen here.  What were some of the achievements of that Safe Surrender and how are those inspiring you all to want to do this again?

Paul Quander:  Well, you know we often talk about working together as a government.  That was one of the most significant endeavors whereby every part of the criminal justice system, every component, was involved in fugitive safe surrender.  And it wasn’t just the criminaljustice agencies, but it was the community at large.  We had a religious partner, Bible Way Church and all the members of Bible Way that accepted this initiative.  They took it on as one of their projects for giving back to their community.  So it brought the criminal justice partners, it brought the religious community; it brought the community at large together and was located in a church and in a safe environment just as the environment of Superior Court will be for this event.  And it allowed us to reconnect with our community.  There are in excess of 500 men and women who came in and got their lives turned around.  When you think about 500, more than 500 individuals, that’s a significant number and some of them had outstanding warrants from the 60’s.  And that’s a long time to have something hanging over your head.  And a lot of these matters were resolved right then, right there.  So it was a resounding success.  It’s a great example of community partnering and community resolve to help everyone.  So that’s why we wanted to do it again.  We wanted to offer it so that anyone that is out there that has this type of low level misdemeanor, non-violent offense, can turn themselves in in a safe environment and will receive favorable consideration to get the matter resolved.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now why should people get favorable consideration?  That certainly is a hallmark of Safe Surrender.  Why is that something you can get through this door and not otherwise?

Paul Quander:  The main reason is because of their own volition, their own will, the fact that they have decided themselves that they want to come in and have these matters addressed.  It’s quid pro quo.  They get something, law enforcement and public safety receives something.  And the community wins as a whole.  So if they can come in, get these matters resolved, then it’s law resources that need to be expended from the police, from the prosecutors, from probation and parole, right on down the line.  So the earlier we can get matters resolved, the better it is for everyone that is concerned.

Cedric Hendricks:  And finally, when will DC Safe Surrender be taking place?   August 13th,

Paul Quander:  I know there are three successive

Cedric Hendricks:  20th and 27th.

Paul Quander:  Right, there are three successive Saturdays that we want to open this up at Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue.  And we’re asking men and women to come in.  And we’re also asking for family members to come in and to support them.  This is an event for the community so if you have a grandson, if you have a nephew, if you have a niece, if you have a daughter, and they have an outstanding warrant, come down with them.  It’s open to the public.  It’s open for family members.  And we want to get as many people to come in and to participate with us in August so that we can have a safe summer and so that beginning with the new school year, people will be free of anything that’s heading over their heads.

Cedric Hendricks:  We’ve been talking with Mr. Paul Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice.  He’s been briefing us on DC Safe Surrender.  Thank you very much Mr. Quander.

Paul Quander:  Thank you for the opportunity.

[Audio Ends]