ISPV Helps 20,000 Fugitives Safely Surrender
ISPV provides evaluations for the Fugitive Safe Surrender program.
The United States Marshal's Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS) program provides the chance for fugitives from justice to get a second chance to become law-abiding citizens.
U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio Peter J. Elliott began the program, which has since been replicated nationally. Elliott was inspired to begin FSS after a Cleveland police officers was killed in the line of duty by a fugitive who had been on the run from law enforcement for seven months. Half of the law enforcement officers who have died in the job in Elliott’s jurisdiction were murdered by fugitives.
FSS gathers the appropriate law enforcement and court personnel in a jurisdiction together in the neutral setting of a house of worship and puts the word out on the streets that a safe place exists to surrender to justice in a nonthreatening environment.
When Elliott began the program, he knew that a strong evaluation and record-keeping function was crucial to success.
Elliott tapped the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence (ISPV) at Kent State to conduct that evaluative function.
As a collaborator in the FSS, the ISPV uses consent forms, surveys and warrant sheets to gather demographic information about the participants, as well as information related to the reasons for surrendering, how participants heard about the program, why they had not surrendered before, and how important it was that the FSS take place in a church.
Afterward, the researchers track participants to determine whether those who were given future court dates actually attend the proceedings.
The FSS was a logical response to the often intractable problem of the justice system’s typically low court appearance rate, says Dr. Daniel Flannery, professor of justice studies and director of the ISPV at Kent State.
For only the second time since the program began, Elliott has returned to a location to conduct the safe haven opportunity again — at Akron’s House of the Lord. The second FSS was held from July 29 through Aug. 1 at the church.
“We have a great working relationship with everyone in Akron,” Elliott says. “It was natural to hold it here again due to the level of cooperation.”
One of the participants in the original program, Casey Hennacy, credits the FSS program held in Akron two years ago with helping her turn her life around. Five months pregnant at the time of the program, she has since been successful in college at the University of Phoenix and says she enjoys her relationship with her 19-month-old son.
Hennacy and the ISPV were profiled in a Kent State Magazine story about Fugitive Safe Surrender in spring of 2008.
“The ISPV makes a tremendous contribution to the success of the Fugitive Safe Surrender program,” says Elliott. “We rely on their tracking and statistics to back up the success of this program. Without the ISPV, we don’t have a Fugitive Safe Surrender program.”
For more information about the ISPV, go to their Web site.