Mattapan church to serve as 'safe surrender' location for non-violent fugitives next month

Boston law-enforcement agencies, courts and clergy are planning a four-day "safe surrender" program next month that will let people with outstanding warrants turn themselves in at a "safe" church on Blue Hill Avenue that will double as an impromptu courthouse.

Safe SurrenderThe Boston Safe Surrender program, scheduled to run Oct. 6-9 at the Jubilee Christian Church, 1500 Blue Hill Ave. in Mattapan, is modeled on similar efforts in other cities, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, which is one of the participating agencies, along with local courts, Boston Police, the probation department.

"It's not an amnesty program, but it's definitely not a sting operation either - the criminal justice system will be offering favorable consideration on those open cases," he said.

The US Marshals' office, which has coordinated the programs since Congress authorized them in 2006, says they offer these fugitives and their families a way to surrender peacefully - almost all are released the same day and the decision to turn themselves in typically gets them a break on sentencing or fines - and reduces the dangers to police and communities that come with tracking down fugitives on the street:

"Law enforcement officials at every level of government apprehend large numbers of fugitives every year through regular investigative efforts and concentrated fugitive sweeps. These duties are among the most dangerous faced by authorities. But the danger is not just to police – it is also to the members of the communities in which these individuals hide ... and to the fugitives themselves."

Although people with outstanding warrants for violent crimes can also turn themselves in, the US Marshal's office says they likely will be taken into custody.