Project Safe Surrender: 35,000 Cleared Warrants, But Is Public Safer?


More than 35,000 people sought on arrest warrants surrendered in 20 cities under Project Safe Surrender, co-sponsored by federal and local law enforcement authorities. A study in Criminology & Public Policy describes those who turned themselves in, about 3,500 for felonies and 18,400 for misdemeanors. (No outstanding warrant could be found for nearly 1/5 of those who surrendered.) For those who had a court date, 94 percent appeared. The most common reasons cited for surrendering were to obtain a driver's license (47 percent), wanting to start over (42 percent), and fear of arrest (40 percent). Many participants did not surrender previously because they did not have money to pay bail or fines.

“Taking responsibility for one's past offending gives people a chance to clear their warrants, reduces the likelihood of going to jail, and avoids a potentially violent altercation with law enforcement,” say researchers Daniel Flannery and Jeff Kreschmar of Case Western Reserve University. In the same issue of the journal, Meagan Cahill of the Urban Institute urges that the program focus on “improving the quality of life for individuals” with outstanding warrants, and notes that “simply clearing warrants for nonviolent felons and misdemeanants is unlikely to make neighborhoods measurably safer.” The journal is available free to members of the American Society of Criminology. Journalists who need access should message Ted Gest at

Comments are closed.