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Private Donor Fills Gap When Feds Cut Ohio Fugitive Surrender Program

CLEVELAND -- A $100,000 grant from a prominent developer has provided a reprieve for a Cleveland program that prompted initiatives across the country to allow fugitives accused of nonviolent crimes to surrender safely at churches.

Sam Miller made the donation to save the program, recently shelved because of federal budget issues.

The grant was announced Thursday by U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott.

"It will be bigger, better and stronger than ever," Elliott told more than 150 volunteers honored by his office for their work last fall, when a national record of 7,431 people surrendered in Cleveland.

The program began in 2005 in Cleveland to prevent violent confrontations between police and fugitives. It eventually expanded nationwide.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine promised last month to continue the program, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has proposed legislation to preserve the program nationally.

Brown's legislation would authorize $5 million a year for the program for five years.

"This is an important program, with broad bipartisan support, that has helped protect Ohio families and neighborhoods - which is why I am working to keep Fugitive Safe Surrender intact at the Department of Justice," Brown said in introducing the bill.

Under the program, more than 34,000 people surrendered in 19 U.S. cities, including about 3,500 violent felons.

The grant will go to Case Western Reserve University, which will monitor the program.

Some of the money will be used to collect data and to help cities that need start-up funds.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported that the grant also could be used in part for overtime for police working the events.