Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, U.S. Marshal Johnny Hughes, and faith leaders are bating fugitives in Baltimore City out of their hiding places. The officials announced on Tuesday that the Fugitive Safe Surrender program will be held in Baltimore City for the first time. From June 16-19, Baltimore City residents with an open, non-violent felony or misdemeanor warrant will be offered a safe and secure location to turn themselves in.
The mayor says the FSS program allows fugitives to regain control of their lives.
“If this event gives at least one person the opportunity for a second chance, we have all accomplished a goal we can be proud of,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
Held in 16 jurisdictions across the country including Washington, Philadelphia, Newark, Detroit, and Memphis, the FSS program was created in 2005 to reduce safety risks to law enforcement officers, fugitives, and their communities associated with the apprehension of non-violent criminals.
“Safety is one of my top priorities for law enforcement officers and the citizens of Baltimore City,” said the mayor.
During the four days FSS takes place in Baltimore, offenders will be encouraged to surrender themselves at the New Metropolitan Baptist Church. Fugitives can expect to surrender themselves in the safety of the church, consult with an assistant public defender, and speak with a judge, all on-site and all in one day.
“The individual will be greeted, they have to fill out an information sheet, they may be finger printed if that’s necessary to verify their identify,” said Kimberly Barranco,
executive director of the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
Barranco said the staff will conduct warrant checks, which have determined that approximately10 percent of the people who surrendered did not have a warrant.
“A criminal history check is done and a parole and probation check is done,” she said. “Once it’s determined the individual fits within the parameters of the safe surrender, they’re escorted across the street to meet with a public defender.”
The public defender will then meet with the state attorney to discuss possible offers that the individual has the option to accept or decline.
To date, 25,000 people have taken advantage of the program. While Barranco was unable to guess how many people would attend, the U.S. Department of Justice expect that Baltimore’s Fugitive Safe Surrender will attract one of the largest turnouts.
“We really do not know how many people will come but we will certainly be prepared to accommodate everyone,” Barranco said. “We’re encouraging everyone to be patient because it is going to take several hours to get to everyone.”
Families and friends are encouraged to join individuals as they take the first step toward becoming productive citizens of Baltimore City, but children are not permitted at the FSS site.
FSS is not for individuals with immigration issues, warrants for child support, juvenile offenders, warrants from Baltimore County Circuit Court, or warrants from any jurisdiction outside of Baltimore City or Baltimore County.
“Less than 4 percent of individuals to turn themselves in are taken into custody,”
Barranco said. “That is prominently because the individuals who turn themselves in fit the parameters of the program.”
New Metropolitan Baptist Church at1501 McCulloh Street will host the Fugitive Safe Surrender program from 9a.m.- 4p.m. Court proceedings will take place next door at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Outreach Center.