New Jersey held a wildly successful Safe Surrender program last week, during which 3,901 people turned themselves in—including 550 people who weren’t actually wanted for anything. “For some people, this seemed to be a way to check: Do I have a warrant or not?” explains a spokesperson. The program offers people wanted for nonviolent crimes to surrender and, usually, be granted probation or a reduced fine instead of jail time. In exchange, authorities are spared the risk and expense of searching for and jailing these people.
The participants waited in line for hours, and most cases were then heard by judges. Twenty people were arrested during the event, most because they were wanted for violent crimes or had an outstanding warrant in another state, the Star-Ledger reports. Among the nonviolent offenders: a woman with 90 traffic tickets.
(Read more Safe Surrender stories.)