Students assist at Safe Surrender event

Seton Hall students interested in criminal justice will have the opportunity to volunteer for the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program from Nov. 6-9 in Jersey City.

The program allows fugitives from across the state to turn themselves in if they have warrants out for their arrest on minor crimes.

The Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church is the designated site for the fugitives to surrender to.

Twenty students have signed up. They will be assigned administrative duties throughout the event, according to criminal justice professor John Paitakes.

He said he believes that this program will give criminal justice students the experience they will need.

“This will give students a firsthand view of interacting with professionals of the Sheriff’s Department, the Police Department, State Police, and even convicted people,” Paitakes said.

He added it will give students real world experience. “It introduces them to things not exactly covered in the textbooks,” Paitakes said.

Senior Dolores Bujnowski, who signed up to work at the Safe Surrender Program, said she looks forward the event believing that it will give her insight and a hands-on approach to various procedures and elements of the criminal justice system.

“Deciding to volunteer for the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program was an easy decision because the program will ultimately give me an in-depth experience and a new perspective on a particular aspect of criminal justice that I was not too familiar with,” Bujnowski said.

He is excited for the learning experience that comes with participating in this program.

“I’m really looking forward to volunteering and learning more about safe surrender procedures,” Bujnowski said.

Junior Sabrina Ball also plans to volunteer and said she hopes to gain a broader understanding of sentencing procedures and the criminal justice system.

“I decided to volunteer with this program because I believe that individuals taking responsibility and initiative towards their offenses is a key aspect to improving the criminal justice system,” Ball said.

She added, “I also like how this program is also offering offenders access to many social services agencies at the site. The assistance of these agencies is crucial in helping offenders move past their charges and their assistance may help prevent individuals from recidivating their crimes.”

Both agreed that they think the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program will be a beneficial experience.

Paitakes, who organized the volunteer opportunity, explained how the Safe Surrender Program works. “By giving themselves up, most are released on recognizance and are given a court date, whereas if they are found and arrested they’re picked up on a warrant and go directly to jail,” he said.

According to Paitakes, this program gives the opportunity for criminals to avoid jail charges for less serious offenses.

The Fugitive Safe Surrender Program has been offered before in several counties across New Jersey, proving very successful, he said.

“Every time one is held, about 3,000 to 4,000 people give themselves up,” Paitakes said “It’s also very cost-effective since it gives the opportunity for those (individuals) to avoid a jail sentence. Every day that a person spends in jail costs the state over $100 per day.”

Erica Szczepaniak can be reached at erica.

Author: Staff Writer

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