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Fugitive surrender program draws record crowd

11/14/2013, 4:26 p.m.

More than 4,500 fugitives turned themselves in to authorities over the weekend in Jersey City, marking the largest number of people to surrender to authorities in the Garden State’s most recent fugitive surrender or semi-amnesty program, state officials announced on Tuesday.

At a morning press conference in Jersey City, acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced that about 10,000 outstanding warrants had been cleared, dismissed or resolved during the four-day safe surrender program in the city last week at Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church. Hoffman said the state warrants ranged from parking violations to child support issues, misdemeanor crimes and nonviolent offenses. While officials downplayed the notion that the safe surrender initiative is an amnesty program, others contend that by turning themselves into authorities, magistrates often grant leniency to defendants and, in some cases, dismiss outstanding charges and allow fugitives to make a clean start.

“People with nonviolent offenses who faced jail time were placed on probation,” Hoffman said. He added that more than $40,000 in fines were collected and at least two people were taken into custody for other violations.

In New Jersey, there are more than 1 million outstanding warrants for arrest. The Jersey City surrender initiative marks at least the fourth or fifth time a fugitive apprehension initiative has occurred in the state—with more than 13,000 people surrendering.

Participant Annette Davis of Newark posted, “The judge wiped clean all three of my fines that turned into warrants because I never finished paying them. I was tired and cold and had to wait all day, but to have the judge throw everything out and wipe out my three fines was well worth it!”