By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This weekend, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is hosting Project Safe Surrender, an undertaking that allows Brooklynites an opportunity to resolve their outstanding summons warrants.
Every year, about a quarter of a million people in Brooklyn are arrested for minor violations, such as possession of small amounts of marijuana, riding a bike on the sidewalk and disorderly conduct, District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said in an exclusive interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Many of these individuals, for unknown reasons, never appear in court to answer for these summonses.
Project Safe Surrender is one that assists in dismissing summonses and setting aside arrest warrants that can be the result of not appearing in court to answer a summons, no matter how minor.
“The history of [Safe Surrender] goes back more than two years,” said Hynes. The program was first introduced in June 2009 at Saint Paul’s Baptist Church, and has successfully been repeated at the Antioch Baptist Church and more recently at the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church.
After seeing the number of outstanding summonses, “The DA’s office worked with the Office of Court Administration and we were able to get an agreement to set up our first court in St. Paul Baptist Church,” Hynes said.
The DA’s office insists that while helping Brooklyn residents to address their open warrants and summonses, Project Safe Surrender also assists them with re-entering society, without low-level crimes holding them back and by connecting them with vital services including housing, employment, job-training and education.
“Over the past few years, we have assisted approximately 1,528 people,” Hynes told the Eagle.
This year, Project Safe Surrender will take place on Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 at The Mount Sion Baptist Church at 365 Ralph Ave. from 9 a,m. to 3 p.m..
Clergy, pastors, counselors and defense attorneys will all be available to provide assistance. “If you are line at 3 p.m., you will be seen,” Hynes asserts.
There will also be a Resource Fair where food will be available at the Shirley Chisholm Day Care Center at 2023 Pacific Street. For more information, call (718) 250-3888 or visit the project's website.
Sponsors of Project Safe Surrender include the Legal Aid Society, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, and the Brownsville Community Justice Center.