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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Middle Township Plans ‘Safe Surrender’

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By Vince Conti

BURLEIGH – The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South in Court House will be the site for a “safe surrender” event Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Official flyers boldly state “No One Will Be Arrested.” 
Billed as Stop Running and Start Living Again, the safe surrender offers individuals with outstanding warrants to safely turn themselves in with no threat of arrest.
The safe surrender program does not provide amnesty. It allows individuals to work with both municipal and Superior Court personnel and judges to resolve outstanding warrants, often on terms more favorable than they could achieve if arrested on the open warrant.
Cape May County has never organized a safe surrender event, but such programs have been effectively used elsewhere in the state.
The September event in Middle Township will allow individuals to resolve most warrants originating in Atlantic and Cape May counties.
Superior Court warrants will be dealt with, but experience has shown that most people who attend safe surrender events have outstanding municipal warrants. That complicates the logistics in an area with so many municipal courts.
At the Lighthouse Church event, judges will be available then from Middle Township, Lower Township, Wildwood, West Wildwood and Woodbine.  Individuals with warrants from municipalities that are not listed will have their warrants recalled and receive a new date to appear.
“Proof of attendance” at the safe surrender will be issued allowing individuals with outstanding warrants in Salem, Cumberland, and Gloucester counties to safely go to courts in those counties where the warrants will be recalled and new dates issued. 
Officials believe that most courts outside those counties will also honor the paperwork, but they cannot guarantee it.
Local public service groups will attend to aid individuals with issues ranging from veteran’s assistance to housing to substance abuse and legal assistance.
The day’s goal is to resolve problems, help individuals relieve themselves of fugitive status, and get the help needed to more confidently look forward without a frequent glance over one’s shoulder.
To contact Vince Conti, email vconti@cmcherald.com.

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