AKRON, Ohio -- The House of the Lord on Diagonal Road in Akron is a place of worship and for the next few days, it will be a safe haven for fugitives to turn themselves in to the law.
The Ohio Attorney General has set up the Fugitive Safe Surrender program inside the church. It allows people with outstanding warrants for misdemeanor and low-level felonies in Summit County to voluntarily surrender and clear their court cases. “I am trying to avoid jail time and I will be able to see if I can get my license back,” Dominique Carter of Tallmadge said.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sees it as a matter of public safety. "Police officers who pull someone over and that person has a warrant-- sometimes that person panics and they run, or they pull a gun or a knife or they do something that they regret later on. This is all about protecting police, protecting the public and bringing these individuals back into society," he said.
The court functions are moved inside the church and allow the fugitives to have their case heard before a judge.
Tyrone Beaufred, 33, traveled from Georgia to clear outstanding warrants he has had for years. “I have owed outstanding cases from 2008, some old fines from '98 to 2000. I traveled up from the Metro Atlanta area to take care of all the fines and outstanding warrants," Beaufred said. Clearing these old cases will allow him to get his first driver’s license.
This is not an amnesty program, but a responsibility program. The offenses are not just forgiven. But, the offenders can resolve their cases in one place and usually in one day. "You pay this $20, you can get your license back, do this house arrest, then you'll be fine. So, I'm like this is the best thing ever,” Shartora Johnson of Akron said.
DeWine announced that 239 individuals turned themselves in during the first day of program in Summit County.
Among 192 people with misdemeanor warrants, 586 warrants were cleared. Among the 6 people with felony warrants, 7 felony warrants were cleared and 23 misdemeanor warrants were cleared.
The Fugitive Safe Surrender program continues at The House of the Lord church from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. through Saturday, June 28.
There will be a warrant sweep by various law enforcement agencies following the program.