Fugitives Turn to Las Cruces Catholic Church

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POSTED: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 3:21pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 4:38pm

Las Cruces, NM - For the second time in Southwest history fugitives were allowed to turn themselves in, by heading to a Catholic church. The program is called "Safe Surrender," and it started today in Las Cruces.

"I figured I would get caught here then on the streets," he said.

Griffis is one of more than one hundred people who surrendered to police. Safe surrender let's fugitives turn themselves in to a designated church and take care of their warrants on the spot.

"You walk in, give them your name driver license number and they run it. It's pretty efficient inside and they go by severity and they've helped me out. I've seen a lot of people walk out of here happy," Griffis said.

After checking in, fugitives wait in a large room with family and friends until they can appear before a judge who is on site and ready to hear their case. And although they use discretion for each warrant, turning yourself in usually looks good to the judge.

"I figured at least I would be able to walk home. They say 98% walk home, and I am walking home," Griffis said.

So why a church?

"The church historically has been a safe location for people to mediate an issue. What we've done here is incorporate that same thought process with our fugitives, " U.S. Marshal Gorden Eden said.

It seems to be working, even family members of fugitives who surrendered appeared impressed.

"They were being very nice and they were happy that we came in and were actually taking care of this. I think it's a very good idea people should come and do this," Sara Weaver, who supported her father through the process, said.

If you or someone you know has a warrant:

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church at 1240 S. Espina Street in Las Cruces.
It is only from July 28th until the 31st, between the hours of 9am and 4pm.

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