"Refuge in times of trouble:" New program would allow those with warrants to surrender at faith-based location

MILWAUKEE -- MICAH (the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope) has announced "Safe Surrender," a program to encourage people in Milwaukee's central city with outstanding arrest warrants to voluntarily surrender to authorities at a faith-based location, fulfill their obligations to the court, and be restored as valued members of the community.

“A refuge in times of trouble is what this program offers those in the shadows because of insurmountable debt and penalties attached to outstanding fines and warrants. Safe Surrender is a safe harbor where those without knowledge of the workings of the system can be restored and recover their place in the community," states Rev. Willie Brisco, MICAH President.

This project, to begin in July 2015, is funded in part by the Advancing A Healthier Wisconsin Endowment of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Upwards of 50,000 Milwaukeeans are estimated to have arrest warrants for non-violent issues such as burglary, traffic fines and low-level drug offenses.

Many offenders with warrants desire a second chance at life but are afraid to come forward, don’t know how to come forward and what it will mean for them, and/or don’t have the money to resolve outstanding fines. Safe Surrender will begin with months of community outreach and education to fill the knowledge gap and to bridge the difficult relationship that has developed for many between the community and law enforcement.

Where this policy has been adopted, tens of thousands of people surrendered, paid their punishments based on a previously negotiated schedule of eligible offenses and penalties, and returned to the community whole. The program has been used successfully in cities across the country, including Cleveland, Camden and Las Cruces.

MICAH commits to Safe Surrender as another way to build healthy, trusting relationships within the community, and with law enforcement officials, focusing on the 53206 zip code.