The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fugitive Safe Surrender 2

According to the United States Marshal's office, the most recent Fugitive Safe Surrender, held at Bible Way Church in Washington, D.C., was a success as more than 500 persons turned themselves in, including 240 on the last day of the operation.
Conceived of by Peter J. Elliott, United States Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio,after the death of Cleveland Police Officer Wayne Leon at the hands of a wanted fugitive, Fugitive Safe Surrender is a powerful new initiative that encourages persons wanted for felony or misdemeanor crimes to voluntarily surrender to the law in a faith-based location. The program now has been adopted as a national USMS-sponsored initiative.

The Marshal's report continues:
Preliminary results showed that 530 individuals surrendered over the program’s three days, and that 53 of those were wanted for felony crimes. However, fewer than three percent of all those who participated in the program were arrested. For those few, charges included domestic violence, escape from jail, and felony assault. Sixty-four of the people who appeared at the church found that they had no active warrants against them, further illustrating the benefit of the program.

Last week the City of Philadelphia was on edge as a fugitive, now identified as John Lewis was at large, following the fatal shooting of police officer Chuck Cassidy. Lewis was apprehended in a homeless shelter in Miami after days of intense police activity in the the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia and because of tips encouraged by the $150K reward.

In addition to my concern about an armed, frightened killer at large, before Lewis was caught, I sympathized with his family and friends who worried that he would not live to face trial. While most of those who surrendered in D.C. were not wanted for felonies, that program gave me hope for more humane and frankly less dangerous means of bringing even those wanted for felonies to justice.

There is so little good news when it comes to law enforcement, especially as it relates to African Americans. Let's hear it again for the US Marshal's office and enlightened experiment in fugitive surrender.

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