Osceola asks all fugitives: are you tired of running?

Osceola County if offering fugitives with outstanding warrants a possible alternative to incarceration -- a Fugitive Safe Surrender Day. (Photo by Steve Schwartz).

KISSIMMEE – The event is being hosted at the Kissimmee Civic Center, a popular site for mass entertainment and family-oriented activities.
But the special event coming up on Aug. 1 has a very different objective, and the tagline for the advertising says it all, in five simple words.
It states, “Are you tired of running?”
Or, to put it another way, “Are you ready to get your charges resolved?”
On Wednesday, Aug. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Kissimmee Civic Center at 201 E. Dakin Ave. in downtown Kissimmee will open its doors – to fugitives who have been charged with crimes in Osceola County.
Anyone who has a warrant out for their arrest will be invited to come to the Civic Center, and take the opportunity to clear up the legal and criminal issues facing them, without immediately being taken into custody and shipped off to the Osceola County Jail.
It’s called the Osceola County Fugitive Safe Surrender Day. It allows individuals who are the subject of misdemeanor warrants to turn themselves in to law enforcement and have their cases adjudicated “in a safe and non-violent environment,” noted Twis Lizasuain, the public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, which is helping to coordinate the event.
It is not, she said, an amnesty program that allows fugitives to clear their record simply by showing up.
But it “does offer favorable considerations from the court, often in the form of reduced fines, probation requirements or a new court date as an alternative to incarceration,” Lizasuain noted. “The program allows fugitives to take responsibility for their actions, stop running from the law and clear their outstanding warrants. “
This is also an opportunity for Osceola County to clear hundreds, if not thousands, of outstanding warrants still on the books. County leaders are hoping that this event reduces the likelihood of a potentially violent confrontation between offenders with outstanding warrants hanging over their heads and law enforcement, and that Fugitive Safe Surrender days can have a positive impact by making local communities a safer place for both families and law enforcement.
But it doesn’t apply to everyone.
The event is open to any individuals who knowingly have an outstanding Osceola County warrant, but it must be for non-violent misdemeanor charges. Those facing a violent felony arrest are not being given this same option.
Likewise, the individuals who show up must be American citizens or legal residents to participate in the program.
Lizasuain said anyone who attends this event should bring a valid photo ID, but do not bring any weapons. Likewise, she said, children are not allowed to attend.
This is a one-day event, and the first time this kind of joint initiative has been coordinated in Osceola County, as a project organized by representatives of numerous local law enforcement and judicial agencies.
They include representatives from the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court – which covers Orange and Osceola counties — the Osceola County Government, Osceola County Corrections Department, Osceola County Clerk of Court, Judicial Correction Services, Public Defender’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Kissimmee Police Department and St. Cloud Police Department.
To learn more about this event, contact Lizasuain at 407-348-1141 or email tliz@osceola.org, or contact Denise Roberts at 407-891-6752 or by email at droberts@stcloud.org.

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