The Fugitive Safe Surrender Program is returning to the House of the Lord in Akron for the third time.



“We have seen thousands of people come through and have their lives changed,” Pastor Herman Matherson said Wednesday at a special event announcing its return. “Burdens lifted off their shoulders. Air is much easier for them to breathe ... Families have been changed.”



The program allows people with outstanding low-level felony or misdemeanor warrants to surrender and have issues resolved in a safe setting.



It will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 25 through June 28 at the church, which is turned into a makeshift courthouse with prosecutors, judges and law enforcement there to handle cases.



House of the Lord, 1650 Diagonal Road, also hosted the program in 2007 and 2009, when 1,125 and 1,350 people, respectively, turned themselves in.



Robert Davis, the Fugitive Safe Surrender coordinator for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said he hopes that 1,500 people take advantage of the program this time.



The program is designed for people with outstanding warrants in Summit County. The attorney general estimates there are 6,000 felony warrants in the county and 16,000 misdemeanor warrants in the Akron, Barberton, and Stow municipal courts.



Authorities stressed that the program doesn’t offer amnesty for past crimes, but judges look more favorably on people who voluntarily come forward.



“We will work with you, as will the justice system,” Sheriff Steve Barry said.



Authorities also said a warrant sweep is planned in Summit County after the event, so it would be better for people to turn themselves in now.



“This is not a trick,” Matherson said. “What we say is what will happen.”



The Fugitive Safe Surrender Program was launched by U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott in Cleveland in 2005 to prevent dangerous confrontations between police and fugitives.



Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has sponsored four of the events, in Richland, Columbiana, Trumbull and Mahoning counties.



For more details, call the Ohio Attorney General’s Fugitive Safe Surrender Hotline at 877-647-8773.



Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.