The U.S. Marshals Service will hold five more “Safe Surrender” programs this year for people facing charges for non-violent offenses – both local and federal – to turn themselves in at a neutral location, reports MainJustice.com. For the last several years, the program has focused on the mid-Atlantic region, but the Marshals Service is hoping to expand it to the West. Two surrender events are scheduled this summer – in Baltimore and Las Cruces, N.M., – and plans are in the works for more in the fall, including one in Tallahassee scheduled for October.
The Marshals Service picks a site that is converted into a courtroom for four days from Wednesday through Saturday. Judges, public defenders, and prosecutors are on-site. Once a fugitive arrives, he or she is assigned a volunteer who helps them through the process. Most defendants have a hearing on the spot and are released; some are scheduled for future court dates. About 2 percent of fugitives who turn themselves in during the event are held immediately. Since the program began in 2005, more than 25,000 people have surrendered in 17 operations. The largest, held in Detroit in 2008, brought in more than 6,500 people.