D.C. Safe Surrender Program starts August 13

Four years ago, Willie Jones, who was due in court in 2007 on drug distribution charges, decided he didn't want to go to jail again. Because of that, he didn't show up for a scheduled court appearance.

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Judge Lee Satterfield says those with warrants against them should avoid the burden of not appearing in court. (Photo: Mike Conneen/ABC7)

"It was miserable," Jones said. "I didn't want to drive. I didn't want to be stopped by the police. It was very, very miserable."

However, thanks to the Safe Surrender Program, Jones was one of 500 people to surrender to police on that day, and all but ten of them went home that afternoon.

The 2011 Safe Surrender Program, which allows those with outstanding bench warrants to turn themselves in safely and with very little stress, begins this weekend.

The program applies to people who have outstanding bench warrants for non-violent felonies and misdemeanors; violations such as traffic citations, drug possession and other minor crimes.

It's always safer to come into a controlled environment and turn yourself in, rather than being confronted on a traffic stop or having officers come to your home have you placed under arrest in front of your family," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says.

Judges say that taking responsibility for their actions can greatly benefit a defendant, especially during sentencing.

It's good to not be wanted," Jones said. "You can get a job and be a good father to your kids."

This year, those who want to turn themselves in can do so at the D.C. Superior Court at 500 Indiana Ave. on Aug. 13, 20 and 27.

For more information on the program, or to find a list of those with bench warrants eligible, you can go to the Safe Surrender Program website.

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