Fugitives head for church... to surrender.

November 19, 2008 2:57:12 PM PST
Hundreds of fugitives stood in the cold in Camden, New Jersey Wednesday for a chance at a fresh start.The Fugitive Safe program came to the Garden State for the first time.

It offers non-violent felons a court hearing, plus job help and counseling.

The line ran out the front door at Antioch Baptist Church in Camden. That's where more thanr 700 fugitives who've been ducking arrest warrants turned themselves in Wednesday, taking advantage of New Jersey's first -ever Fugitive Safe Surrender program.

"I've been running for a while, and I'm tired of running," said Michael Williams of Camden. "I'm so glad this program is available."

"A lot of people feel safe to come to a church and surrender instead of going to the police department and surrendering there," said Sorangel Brana of Camden.

These are non-violent offenders facing arrest because of traffic tickets, drug possession or other less serious crimes.

"This is perfect for me because I'm tired of running. I'm a burden to my family and everybody because they're scared I'm going to go to jail," said Danielle Klinger of West Deptford, New Jersey.

Fugitives who register get their records checked and then have their cases processed on the spot.

"It's cost effective from a taxpayers standpoint, but it's also a great opportunity for fugitives because the judges know they're coming in of their own volition, so they're giving them favorable consideration," said U.S. Marshal James Plousis.

David Ginyard of Camden had 7 out of 9 traffic and trespassing charges against him dismissed.

"The only thing I have to worry about now is just two of them," Ginyard said. "Just paying the fine on two charges. It was a blessing to come here today."

Most are ordered to pay a fine and sent home with a new court date.

Although this is happening in Camden, the Safe Surrender program is open to fugitives around the state. Officials are hoping, over the next several days, over a thousand fugituves will come out of the shadows and clear their names with the courts.

The program runs through Saturday.

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