- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2007

D.C. courts officials say 75 fugitives surrendered yesterday during the first day of a three-day federal program to cut the number of arrest warrants and help criminals come clean.

The Fugitive Safe Surrender program, run by the U.S. Marshals Service, encourages people who have outstanding warrants or who are wanted for nonviolent felonies or misdemeanor crimes to surrender voluntarily.

The program has drawn thousands of offenders in a half dozen cities across the country over the past two years, said Leonard Sipes, spokesman for the D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.

Bible Way Church in Northwest is hosting the program in the District. Mr. Sipes said that in addition to the 75 persons who turned themselves in yesterday, 50 persons surrendered in the two days before the program started.

Officials said the goal was to help provide offenders the chance to settle pending warrants and to improve safety for police officers who unknowingly interact with fugitives.

“Having a warrant is an anxiety-provoking situation for the entire family,” Mr. Sipes said. “They will simply assume if there is someone knocking on the door at 3 a.m. in the morning, it’s law enforcement.”

Up to 15 percent of those who turn themselves in during almost every program don’t even have a warrant, Mr. Sipes said.

Officials said D.C. resident Willie Jones was the first person in line to turn himself in yesterday. Mr. Jones carried an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on a drug-distribution charge. Officials said Mr. Jones told them that he was “tired of running.” He had his warrant expunged yesterday and carries a new court date.

“It is a win-win situation for everybody,” Mr. Sipes said. “It protects police officers, promotes public safety and serves as a re-entry into society for hundreds of individuals who are on the outside of the law.”

The program runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through tomorrow.

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