Fugitives turn themselves in

September 17, 2008 4:36:14 PM PDT
Philadelphia police say 100 people with outstanding arrest warrants showed up to surrender at a church in two hours. That was just the first two hours of a program that began Wednesday morning and continues until Saturday.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the church's pastor read about similar programs in other cities and offered the use of his church building. The idea is that some will find the church less intimidating than a police station or a courthouse.

"Each case stands on its own, this is not an amnesty program" said U.S. Marshal John Patrick Nani. "However, if someone was to turn themselves in here today, they would probably get a better deal than if they would turn themselves in through the normal course of business."

"They threw three of my warrants out, they were summary warrants, and one that I plead guilty to," said Robert Sanders of Germantown. "I just have to finish paying a fine."

Most cases were adjudicated in makeshift courtrooms inside the church. Public defenders were on hand to help those accused of non-violent offenses.

"Take away the fear, and givem them the opportunity to clear up their legal issues and then get favorable consideration while doing it," said the Rev. Ernest McNear.

Anyone who's wanted for a nonviolent offense in Philadelphia is invited to go to:

TrueGospel Tabernacle Church in South Philadelphia
Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Program runs through Saturday

Camden, N.J., has scheduled a fugitive surrender program at a church next month.

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