“Fugitive Safe Surrender” Initiative Comes To North Jersey Next Month

ssNEWARK – Fugitives hiding from the law in New Jersey will soon have the opportunity to surrender safely at a Jersey City church, take responsibility for their offenses, and obtain favorable consideration from the court, through Fugitive Safe Surrender-North Jersey.

New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman, State Parole Board Chairman James T. Plousis, and Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez joined with Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, Rutgers-Newark Interim Chancellor Todd Clear, and other leaders at the State, county, municipal, community-based and faith-based levels to announce this important partnership.

Fugitive Safe Surrender-North Jersey will operate from Wednesday, Nov. 6 through Saturday, Nove. 9 at Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church, 661 Montgomery Street, Jersey City. Individuals wanted for non-violent offenses are invited to turn themselves in from 9 am to 4 pm during the four days. They will be transported across the street to the Jersey City Armory, where their cases will be adjudicated with the help of Superior Court and municipal court judges, as well as prosecutors and public defenders.

While Fugitive Safe Surrender is not an amnesty program, those who participate will receive favorable consideration from the court. This typically results in significantly reduced fines and/or probation requirements instead of incarceration. The vast majority of participants – typically, more than 99 percent of those who surrender – will be able to return home the same day.

Based on Fugitive Safe Surrender’s past success in New Jersey, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 wanted persons are expected to peacefully turn themselves in during the four-day window of opportunity. A total of 13,276 individuals surrendered during New Jersey’s four previous FSS events in Camden, Newark, Somerset/New Brunswick, and Atlantic City.

“If you are wanted for a non-violent offense, we invite you to join the 13,000 individuals from across New Jersey who have already placed themselves on the right side of the law, thanks to Fugitive Safe Surrender,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “Though not an amnesty program, this represents the best opportunity and the best deal you will ever find.”

State Parole Board Chairman James T. Plousis said, “Fugitive apprehensions are inherently dangerous for law enforcement officers, for the fugitives themselves, and for their families and communities. Every fugitive who voluntarily surrenders makes himself or herself safer. Each surrender also saves taxpayer dollars that can be better spent on other public safety matters.”

Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Martinez said, “The benefits of Fugitive Safe Surrender extend well beyond those who turn themselves in. When these individuals can regain their driving privileges, seek legitimate employment and begin contributing for their families, all of society benefits.”

Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory said, “We are proud to host Fugitive Safe Surrender in Hudson County. This initiative is possible through a truly impressive partnership that brings faith- and community-based groups together with state, county, and municipal agencies. It will help transform lives, and help make the public safer.”

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said, “The success of Fugitive Safe Surrender speaks for itself. Those who turn themselves in will receive favorable consideration from the court. As law enforcement leaders we can say that if you participate in this program you will obtain a much better outcome than you will on the street, if police have to find you and take you into custody.”

Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said, “Fugitive Safe Surrender creates an important, limited-time opportunity to face a judge, face up to your offenses, and get your life back on track. Anyone wanted for a non-violent offense in New Jersey should take advantage of this initiative.”

Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari said, “Any interaction between law enforcement and a wanted fugitive – even if the person is wanted for a low-level, non-violent infraction – creates the risk of serious harm. Fugitive Safe Surrender succeeds in protecting the safety of police officers, as well as the safety of those who surrender.”

Todd Clear, Interim Chancellor of Rutgers-Newark and Dean of the School of Criminal Justice, said, “The Rutgers School of Criminal Justice is proud to be participating in this effort with our law enforcement and community-based partners. Fugitive Safe Surrender creates the opportunity for extraordinary partnerships between law enforcement and community groups that last well beyond the surrender opportunity, and create lasting benefits for public safety.”

Fugitive Safe Surrender-North Jersey is open only to U.S. citizens and legal residents. Any other individuals are not eligible to participate.

The initiative is intended for those who are wanted for non-violent offenses and who do not have a history of violent offenses. Individuals wanted for violent offenses also may surrender – but they are more likely to be taken into custody. At New Jersey’s previous four Fugitive Safe Surrender events, more than 99 percent of those who surrendered were released the same day. Less than 1 percent were taken into custody. This is because the vast majority had non-violent offenses and no history of violence.

Much more information in English and Spanish, including video statements from individuals who participated in New Jersey’s past Fugitive Safe Surrender events, can be found at www.FSSNJ.com.

Members of the public who have questions about Fugitive Safe Surrender-North Jersey can contact the program through 855-FSS-NJ12 (855-377-6512), or fssnj@lps.state.nj.us. They can also follow the program on Facebook at facebook.com/fssnj and Twitter at twitter.com/fssnj1.

Fugitive Safe Surrender-North Jersey is made possible by a partnership led by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Parole Board, New Jersey Department of Corrections, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, New Jersey Office of Information Technology, and New Jersey Transit.

Key partners include the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice and the Police Institute at Rutgers-Newark; Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church; the Prosecutor’s and Sheriff’s Offices of Hudson, Bergen, and Passaic counties; the Superior and Municipal Courts of New Jersey, primarily the Hudson and Passaic vicinages; the City of Jersey City and the County of Hudson; county and local law enforcement from Hudson, Bergen, and Passaic counties; and other agencies and organizations at the state, county, municipal, community and faith-based levels.

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