Fugitives find justice at Safe Surrender

Bryan Allen was so eager to have his outstanding arrest warrant cleared yesterday, the 23-year-old got to Mattapan’s Jubilee Christian Church an hour early despite pouring rain. Luckily there was a tent outside the site of New England’s first Fugitive Safe Surrender program.

“I swear the news said it started at 8 o’clock,” Allen, who was facing a two-year- old Class D drug offense, said of the 5-year-old federal program, which is new to Massachusetts.

The four-day surrender program doesn’t offer amnesty; rather, people with warrants for nonviolent offenses appear before judges and typically get favorable consideration. Some cases are resolved in hours, while more complicated ones get a second hearing on another date.  

Fifty fugitives participated in the program yesterday in Mattapan.

“Every month we just get more and more [warrants],” Boston Police Deputy Superintendent Bill Casey said. “With a program like this we can try to do something.”

Allen felt much better after the judge dismissed his charges and reduced his fine to $60. He’s confident he can now secure a cooking job at the Shattuck Hospital he’s trying to land.

“I can walk around and I don’t have to be nervous when the police walk past and look at me,” Allen said.

Church setting attractive

Balloons covered the religious overtures in the de-facto court. But a Kent State study found that roughly 80 percent of fugitives participating in the program — which has been offered at 19 other locations nationwide — said having the site at a church made them feel more comfortable.

In the first hour roughly 17 fugitives came through the doors, where an army of DAs and police officers waited. 


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