Fugitives surrender in record numbers
- Fugitives surrender in record numbers Nearly 5,500 turn themselves in as
Wayne County tries to trim backlog. Francis X. Donnelly / The Detroit News
*DETROIT* -- Never before have so many been so happy to turn themselves in.
When law enforcement agencies gave Wayne County fugitives a chance to
surrender, they received such a huge response Wednesday that they were still
processing people the next day at 5 a.m.
Three days later, the throngs kept coming. So many showed up Saturday that
the doors were closed less than an hour after they opened.
By the time the four-day program was over, nearly 5,500 residents had turned
That set a record for similar initiatives held in other parts of the U.S.
The previous high was 1,581 in Memphis, Tenn., last year.
"We've been going from sunup to sundown," said Robert Grubbs, U.S. marshal
for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The program, sponsored by the U.S. Marshal's Office, tries to ease the
backlog of outstanding warrants by offering fugitives favorable
consideration in disposing of their cases.
Wayne County has 29,000 outstanding felony warrants and 17,000 misdemeanor
Instead of a courthouse, the programs are held is less-threatening
surroundings. The one in Detroit was at Second Ebenezer Church.
The proceedings Saturday definitely had an informal air.
Prosecutors dressed in casual clothes. Judges presided from folding tables
in makeshift courtrooms. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy stopped by with
her daughter, Anastasia.
"We have a huge problem with outstanding warrants," Worthy said as Anastasia
practiced ballet spins in the hallway. "It's of paramount importance to
Worthy said the program could run for two weeks and there still would not be
enough time to process all who wanted to surrender.
She said the Prosecutor's Office was looking for other ways to meet the
Among those grateful for the program is Angela Bradford.
She lost her job as a child protective services advocate after becoming
addicted to crack cocaine.
Then she failed to pay child support. She also failed to pay six tickets,
including one for driving without insurance.
Bradford, 42, of Detroit, lived for several years as a fugitive, always
worried that police could arrest her at any moment.
Then she heard about this program. She decided to take care of her problems
and finally put them behind her.
"I think it's a marvelous idea," she said. "It's a way to try to get your
life straightened out."
In a conversation in the hall, a court staffer told Bradford what her
options were, explaining that she could dispose of the case by paying a
fine. "I'll take it. I'll take it," she said.
As she returned to the courtroom, waiting for the judge after a break, a
bailiff took pizza to several workers inside.
He asked Bradford and several other fugitives whether they wanted any. They
all took a slice, happily munching away as they waited for their cases to be
-Charles C. Primas
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