WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced legislation aimed at preserving Fugitive Safe Surrender, a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice that allows individuals wanted for non-violent felony or misdemeanor crimes to voluntarily surrender to the law in a safe and non-violent environment. Fugitive Safe Surrender was developed by Cleveland-based U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott in 2004, but last month, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the FSS program would be eliminated.
“Fugitive Safe Surrender is a national success story that started right here in Ohio. It’s a prime example of how law enforcement officials can work together with community leaders to create a safer environment for everyone,” Brown said. “There is no price that can be placed on enabling law enforcement officials to return home to their families safely after serving in the line of duty. This is an important program, with broad bipartisan support, that has helped protect Ohio families and neighborhoods—which is why I am working to keep Fugitive Safe Surrender intact at the Department of Justice.”
Federal funding for FSS has come from the U.S. Marshals Service, which recently announced it could no longer afford to continue the program. The bill would place FSS under the auspices of the Attorney General as opposed to the Marshals Service, giving the Attorney General flexibility as to how to administer the program. The legislation would authorize funding for FSS at $5 million a year for the next five fiscal years.
Following the Plain Dealer report on FSS’s cancellation, Brown sent a letter to the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, Stacia Hylton, urging her to reinstate FSS. In the letter, Brown contended that FSS was an innovative and effective program that should be preserved and enhanced, rather than eliminated. The goal of Fugitive Safe Surrender is to reduce the risk to law enforcement officers who pursue fugitives, to the neighborhoods in which they hide, and to the fugitives themselves.
Brown visited a Fugitive Safe Surrender site at the historic Mt. Zion Church in Oakwood in September 2010. On the first day of that FSS event, more than 800 people voluntarily surrendered—a record turnout for the program. Brown has been a strong supporter of the Fugitive Safe Surrender program since its inception, and joined the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones in support of federal legislation authorizing funding for FSS. Over the life of the program, nearly 35,000 individuals have voluntarily surrendered nationwide. In March 2009, Brown recommended the reappointment of Marshall Elliott—who was originally appointed in 2003—to President Obama.