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Safe Surrender has potential

August 18, 2012
Morning Journal News

The recent Fugitive Safe Surrender program held at the Lisbon Nazarene Church had minimal success - only 24 fugitives turned themselves in - but it is still a worthwhile program, with a few changes.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office coordinated with county and state officials to turn the Nazarene Church into a makeshift court.

The purpose of the program is to provide neutral locations such as churches where alleged offenders can turn themselves in rather than risk a confrontation with police officers trying to arrest them.

Officials had hoped a significant number of people would take advantage of the program, thereby reducing the backlog of outstanding arrest warrants. In exchange, participants could avoid going to jail, depending on the warrant, and receive help in addressing issues that may have resulted in the arrest warrant being issued, such as failing to pay court costs and child support or getting their driver's license reinstated.

County Municipal Court Judge Carol Robb, who participated in the program, reportedly came away so impressed that she said the judges may consider holding similar events to address the backlog of warrants out of their court. Good idea. If it wouldn't prove to be too costly, the muni courts could take over the program and perhaps hold it on a more regular basis.

Also, the event needed more advance publicity. In addition to news stories, advertisements could be purchased and posters could be distributed alerting fugitives to the dates of future surrenders.



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