“Fugitive Safe Surrender” Event Allows Wanted People To Turn Themselves In & Seek Favorable Consideration

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John J. Hoffman

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman

JERSEY CITY – This week, from Wednesday, Nov. 6 through Saturday, Nov. 9, the State of New Jersey invites wanted persons to peacefully turn themselves in at a church in Jersey City, and seek favorable consideration from the court.

The initiative is called Fugitive Safe Surrender. Based on its past success in New Jersey, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 individuals are expected to peacefully turn themselves in during the four days.

The vast majority of participants – typically, more than 99 percent of those who surrender – can expect to return home the same day. They can expect to leave the program with their cases fully resolved, or with a court date to resolve their cases in the near future. After participating they will no longer be wanted persons, and need no longer hide from the law.

“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 through Fugitive Safe Surrender,” New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “Though not an amnesty program, this represents the best opportunity and the best deal you are ever going to 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. With each individual who voluntarily surrenders, the community becomes safer. Each surrender also saves taxpayer dollars that can be better spent on other public safety matters.”

The surrender location is Evangelismos Church at 661 Montgomery Street in Jersey City. The program is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each of the four days. After surrendering at the church, participants will be taken across the street to the Jersey City Armory for the processing of their cases. Individuals seeking further information can visit www.FSSNJ.com or call 855-FSS-NJ12 (855-377-6512).

Fugitive Safe Surrender does not provide amnesty, but does enable wanted persons to work with a judge, prosecutor and public defender, and seek favorable consideration. This typically results in probation rather than jail time. In addition, every attempt is made to reduce the individual’s unpaid fines or work out a reasonable payment plan.

The initiative is only open to American citizens or legal residents of the United States. Its focus is on those wanted for non-violent criminal matters, or for municipal matters such as unpaid fines or child support. Individuals who are wanted for violent crimes, or who have a violent criminal history, are much more likely to be taken into custody.

A total of 13,276 individuals turned themselves in at New Jersey’s four previous Fugitive Safe Surrender events. Because the vast majority were wanted for non-violent felonies or municipal offenses, more than 99 percent returned home the same day they surrendered. Less than 1 percent were incarcerated.

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 seek 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 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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