St. Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church of Jersey City, NJ,
Hosts Fugitive Safe Surrender Program
Rev. Fr. Dionysios Marketos graciously volunteered the church as the base location for the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program which took place from November 6th thru November 9th. This program provides an opportunity for anyone who has an outstanding warrant issued by any state or local law enforcement agency in New Jersey to turn themselves in during this period. Over 95% who turn themselves in during this time at the location do not go to jail. They usually pay all or part of any financial obligation they may have and will be given a court date in future weeks.
This program has taken place in past years at different church locations throughout New Jersey and was very successful. In each o these events between 3000 and 5000 persons turned themselves in to authorities at the respective location. The vast majority who turned themselves in did not go to jail and were released on their own recognizance. Therefore, thousands of dollars are saved due to not being incarcerated. This also provides the returning fugitive an opportunity to get their lives in order and begin the rehabilitation process.
The church was the initial check-in point for those surrendering on November 6th through November 9th. After initially registering at the church they were referred across the street from the church to the Armory Building. Inside this military armory were various stations to include; Public Defenders; Prosecutorial personnel; Judges; and a payment section for financial payment of fines.
In addition, after individuals were finished addressing their legal issues, these was an area designated for social services and other related government agencies to assist returning fugitives. By offering these services in one location, it was anticipated this could assist in the rehabilitation process. By the conclusion of this period, a total of 4500 fugitives had given themselves up.
It should also be noted that the processing and organizing of this event was done by the law enforcement and criminal justice workers of Hudson County and the New Jersey State Parole Board. In addition, law enforcement personnel representing; NJ State Police, local police, NJ Parole Officers; and numerous volunteers participated in this process during the 4 day period. Twelve undergraduate Criminal Justice students from Seton Hall University of South Orange, NJ also volunteered to assist in the processing. This provided an excellent experiential learning activity for these students under the coordination of Dr. John Paitakes, Sr. Faculty Associate of the University.
A sincere and heartfelt thanks goes out to Rev. Fr. Dionysios Marketos, Mr. Lenny Ward, Director of Parole and Community Programs for NJ Parole, Chairman James Plousis of the New Jersey State Parole Board and the many law enforcement and criminal justice personnel from all over the State of NJ.
About the Author: Dr. John Paitakes is a Criminal Justice Professor at Seton Hall University. In addition, he worked as a Probation Officer and NJ State Parole Board member for over 30 years. He is also a member of AHEPA, Monroe Chapter 75.