Safe Surrender program sets up shop at Blue Hill Ave. church

An initiative aimed at getting people with outstanding arrest warrants to turn themselves in has begun in Mattapan this week. The Fugitive Safe Surrender Program program, which started on October 6 and will run to October 9, is based out of the Jubilee Christian Church, 1500 Blue Hill Ave. The effort is run by the Boston Police Department, the District Attorney’s office and the US Marshals Service and targets individuals with warrants for non-violent minor offenses, allowing a chance for a quick surrendering process.

Participants in the program will be offered preferential treatment, officials say. The Jubilee Church will be transformed into a courthouse over the four-day program, complete with metal detectors, judges, interpreters, and free legal services, courtesy of the DA’s office. Ministers from Jubilee and from the Boston Ten Point Coalition will also be on hand. No religious requirements are necessary for the program, however.

“There are over 54,000 outstanding arrest warrants in the city,” said Justice Elanor Sinnott. “Most of those are for minor offenses, but they are clogging the court system, utilizing police resources, and most importantly, hanging over the heads of those who have committed minor non-violent offenses.”
The Fugitive Safe Surrender program has already been run successfully in 18 cities, processing around 27,000 fugitives over the course of five years. This week’s program will be the first ever held in New England.

According to organizers, the location for the program was chosen largely because of the size and layout of the building and because it appears that fugitives are more comfortable surrendering in a place of worship, as opposed to a courthouse or police station. Police make no indication that the siting of the program had anything to do with the number of minor warrants in any given area.
“The minor warrants are more spread out across the city,” said Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “I think that this location has more logistical benefits.”