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Federal Authorities Offer Baltimore Residents A Way Out Of legal Woes

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By Garrett Browne

Baltimore residents with outstanding, non-violent warrants have a safe outlet to resolve their prior charges in a comfortable location.

The Fugitive Safe Surrender program started Wednesday morning at the New Baptist Church in West Baltimore by the U.S. Marshall's Service, and will operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"The aim of this is to provide those in the community that are hiding out for fear of arrest a safe place to go to resolve their issues, and the judges are handing out favorable rulings when these individuals turn themselves in," says David Lutz of the U.S. Marshall's office in Baltimore.

The program, which started in Cleveland back in 2005, has been used in 17 other major U.S. cities to pull in and clear up over 25,000 nonviolent warrants. Those who come forward have a chance to meet with, in the safety of the church, a public defender and judge, and most of the offensives are cleared up in one day.

"The biggest advantage is that people with these types of open warrants can’t get jobs," says Lutz, "so they can come in and get this cleared up with a judge and possibly go out and return to work."

These services are only for non-violent crimes, and exclude child support warrants, juvenile offenders, immigration services, and are only for those with warrants in Baltimore County. The U.S. Marshall's service is also suggesting that fugitives seek the support of family or friends, to help them get the help they need and to get their lives back on track.

On the first day, the program has cleared 176 Baltimore residents of their warrants, and the U.S. Marshall's office expects over 1,000 warrants to be cleared by the time the program wraps up on Saturday afternoon.

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