A safe surrender for nonviolent offenders

A safe surrender for nonviolent offenders

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - When speaking with Willie Jones, he's the first to admit that he's made mistakes in his life. In 2007, those mistakes lead to a warrant for his arrest, facing charges for the distribution of heroin.

"It's stagnating," he said of having a warrant. "It's very depressing. You can't do anything."

Jones said he found relief when he turned himself in through the "DC Safe Surrender Program," a way to surrender voluntarily at the courthouse, if you're a nonviolent offender. Organizers of the program said that the goal is to "reduce the number of outstanding bench warrants," by offering a safe environment to turn yourself in. In 2007, Jones took advantage of the program.

"You ain't gotta worry about when the knock comes at the door," he said. "You ain't got to worry about when the police pull you over. You have no warrants. You're a free man. That's the real reason why to do it."

Now the service is back, and on Wednesday morning, leaders of DC's criminal justice service announced the details of the 2016 program. The event, which will be held over the next three Saturdays, was previously held in 2007 and 2011. During those two years, more than 1,000 people turned themselves in, and according to D.C. Courts, 98 percent of them returned home that same day.

Director of Pretrial Services Agency, Clifford Keenan, said that this program is meant to protect the marshals as well, who face a dangerous task when searching for a wanted offender.

"Many times execution of bench and arrest warrants results in tragic consequences," he said. "To Law Enforcement seeking to execute warrants. As well as to the individual or the family."

The program is reserved for those wanted for misdemeanor of nonviolent felonies.

The program will be held at the Moultrie Courthouse at 500 Indiana Ave. NW on Sept. 10, 17, and 24.


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