Would wanted fugitives turn themselves in if someone asked them? It worked in Cleveland, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales honored 14 government officials and volunteers for pioneering such a program, called Fugitive Safe Surrender. U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott and the Rev. C. Jay Matthews of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church launched the effort last year based on a similar church-based program in Cleveland Municipal Court.
Matthews offered his church as a safe-surrender harbor for four days. The program overcame initial skepticism with success that surprised even its biggest backers: Almost 850 fugitives, including 324 felons, surrendered. That success spawned copycat efforts in several other cities. Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Sen. Mike DeWine obtained $16 million in federal money to help set up similar programs in other cities.