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Surrendering at Church—to the Cops

A Memphis church welcomes fugitives who come to turn themselves in.

Nineteen-year-old Edacious recently came to New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, but not to worship. Instead, she came to surrender.

There was a warrant for her arrest on marijuana charges and she had come to church to turn herself in. Hundreds of others with outstanding warrants also showed up.

Called Fugitive Safe Surrender, the program is coordinated by the U.S. Justice Department and is the brainchild of Pete Elliott, a member of the U.S. Marshals Service.

"People have asked me why a church, and it's simple," Elliott recently told the PBS program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. "Churches give hope."

"I've been in law enforcement going on 25 years now," he said. "I feel the most comfort in my life when I'm at church. I feel the most peace when I'm at church. And I felt that individuals in the community that were wanted were basically no different than me."

A week before the surrenders, Memphis religious leaders and law enforcement officials announced that for four days, ...

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