NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There are thousands of people walking the streets of Nashville with outstanding warrants.
It can be anything from failure to appear in court for a traffic violation to unpaid citations. But there is an effort for those people to come forward peacefully.
Men and women in Davidson County who are wanted for nonviolent crimes will soon be given a special one-time opportunity toward a second chance.
Nashville’s justice system, in partnership with area community leaders, are gearing up for a two-day Nashville Safe Surrender event to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, 2021 Herman Street.
Pastor William Harris of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church says serving the community is not a 9-5 job.
"You must understand that we’re 24/7 pastors, we’re never off," Harris said.
Several Nashville pastors teamed up to help do what they are called to do and lead those who strayed a way back on a path toward a second chance.
"The environment here it’s a spiritual environment but it’s a comfortable environment," Pastor Michael Joyner said.
There are about 33,000 active warrants in Davidson County.
"Of course, coming here, ministers and volunteers of the community, it’s a safer and more comfortable environment than going downtown to a courtroom with court officers," Joyner said.
Those who choose to surrender could even avoid jail time if they show up on the dates of the event.
"They don't sit in jail or have your hearing within a certain period of time, 10 days 15 days waiting on their time to appear in court," said Judge Steve Dozier.
Organizers say those who show up at the church to surrender will be processed — able to speak with an attorney and appear before judges like Dozier and Lynda Jones either from the Criminal or General Sessions Courts.
"Some of those warrants are five or six years old. And witnesses are long gone, or it was a false allegation, to begin with. We really just want to clean this up and I want our justice system to be fair for everyone. And it'll work better for everyone if people come forward," said Jones.
Nashville hosted a two-day Safe Surrender event in September 2015, which saw a total of 86 persons come to Galilee Church to receive special consideration to begin resolving their outstanding criminal charges. Those 86 persons were named in a total of 133 outstanding warrants.
Nashville hosted a four-day Safe Surrender event in conjunction with a nationwide effort advocated by U.S. Marshal’s Service in August 2007, during which 561 persons peacefully and voluntarily surrendered themselves at Galilee Church.