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Day one of the Cleveland’s innovative Juvenile Safe Surrender program is in the books. Almost 30 young offenders with arrest warrants showed up at the Juvenile Justice Center to turn themselves in.

They did not go to jail, as many of them feared. Instead, they left with probation and/or community service and admonitions from judges and magistrates to take advantage of their break.

Eighteen-year-old T’Mia Mason had an arrest warrant out for stealing a pair of shoes. It made her nervous every time she saw a police officer. And it hampered her efforts to get into nursing courses or training programs.

She was nervous coming in. But she left glad she did, saying, “It is a good thing.”

Judge Thomas O’Malley was one of the staunchest promoters of this first-of-its-kind program. It is modeled after adult safe surrender programs that originated in Cleveland.

O’Malley and others with the program believe there will be more young people coming in later in the week once they see that the program is not some kind of bait-and-switch and offenders are really going home and not to jail.

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