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Memorize a landline number RIGHT NOW
February 6, 2012 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Los Angeles County jails don't post lists to bail bondsmen. You cannot make collect calls to cell phones. Many people don't even have land lines. That combination kept one man in jail for five days. via the hairpin.
posted by insectosaurus (138 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
We should be arresting way more rich white people. That seems to be the only way to expose and publicize any kind of problem with the justice system.
posted by theodolite at 12:25 PM on February 6, 2012 [83 favorites]


Elementary solution: Require the jail to post lists of telephone numbers for bail bondsmen, and their phone system to allow calls to cell phone numbers. The more media light shines on this situation, the more likely these changes will be made.
posted by bearwife at 12:31 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I went to jail for public intox in college, the small-town Arkansas jail had a whole list of bail bondsman to call. Still had to make a collect call, which was rolled onto to the total cost of bail. Seems ridiculous that LA can't do the same.
posted by Peemster at 12:35 PM on February 6, 2012


But hey, I don't have to worry about this beacause I am doing nothing wrong . . . right? Right? chirp . . . chirp . . . chirp . . . is there an echo in here?
posted by IvoShandor at 12:35 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously? I mean, yes, this is a problem, but the guy couldn't think of any land lines? Any? Not even someone's work number? True, the whole no-one-memorizes-numbers-anymore thing is likely to become an issue, but geez, I can think of a few numbers off the top of my head. He had five days in there. All he needed was to get in touch with one person with access to a phone book.

That being said, the deputies do seem like they were being dicks about it. The guy can't even look at a phone book? I mean, yeah, it's jail, but for Pete's sake. The rest of the country doesn't seem to have this problem.
posted by valkyryn at 12:37 PM on February 6, 2012


I'm sorry, but I feel like they kind of glossed over the part where he was keeping a pregnant heroin addict locked in his home, resulting in false imprisonment charges to which he ultimately plead guilty.

Yes, yes, access to phones, terrible, but what on earth?
posted by wreckingball at 12:38 PM on February 6, 2012 [24 favorites]


At the time, no one knew that he had been trying to help a pregnant woman kick a nasty heroin habit by locking her inside his Santa Monica home so she couldn't buy drugs, or that she had tried to flee and things turned ugly fast, ending with the cops arresting Petrick on a charge of false imprisonment.

There's klaxon bells going off in my head.

But yeah, the phone situation does seem ridiculous. Hugely exacerbated by the MPP (mobile party pays) system in the US which would be why collect calls to cell phones aren't allowed, as a guess.
posted by kmz at 12:38 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nishida calls the problem a "vending issue" that would have to be resolved by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. She says it boils down to fairness: making sure the Sheriff's Department does not display favoritism toward any particular bail bonds businesses.

Easy solution to not being unfair: Phone Books.

Despite the fact that everybody seems to hate them, they do have a purpose.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:39 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


from article: “At the time, no one knew that he had been trying to help a pregnant woman kick a nasty heroin habit by locking her inside his Santa Monica home so she couldn't buy drugs, or that she had tried to flee and things turned ugly fast, ending with the cops arresting Petrick on a charge of false imprisonment.”

Maybe it's not "burying the lede" if you put stuff like this in the second paragraph. Still... wow.

Also:

“The bond was $150,000, an amount Petrick says he had no problem paying. But he needed to call someone on the outside to help.”

HA! That's... wow. Let me just say:

A serious problem would be the system that makes it impossible for poor people to post bail. The fact that the tiny percentage of people who can actually pay exorbitant bails are disallowed from doing so is not a serious or major problem.

This is not a serious problem. Let's fix the serious problems before we move on to making things a bit less uncomfortable for rich white dudes trying to run unlicensed rehab clinics out of their homes, shall we?
posted by koeselitz at 12:40 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess this explains why there are very large signs with phone numbers for bail bondsmen aimed at the tiny jail windows of every single jail I've ever seen.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:40 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I mean, yes, this is a problem, but the guy couldn't think of any land lines? Any? Not even someone's work number?

The only land lines I have memorized are my parent's because I memorized them before the days of cell phones. I can easily foresee a day when I'm unable to recall any.
posted by Defenestrator at 12:40 PM on February 6, 2012 [27 favorites]


to which he ultimately plead guilty.

The old rule used to be innocent until proven, or plead, guilty.
posted by three blind mice at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


valkyryn: "Seriously? I mean, yes, this is a problem, but the guy couldn't think of any land lines? Any? Not even someone's work number?"

I remember exactly zero phone numbers. Haven't had to keep track of those things for years. And No one I know uses a land line anymore, not even my elderly parents. I don't think this is an uncommon scenario, I think the jail system rules are practically designed to keep you from posting bail.
posted by mullingitover at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I feel like they kind of glossed over the part where he was keeping a pregnant heroin addict locked in his home, resulting in false imprisonment charges to which he ultimately plead guilty.

I don't think it matters what he did, getting arrested shouldn't mean you become a second class citizen with rights dictated only by county sheriff's deputies. The article wasn't about why he was arrested and in my opinion, talking at length about it would only serve to poison the well.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:42 PM on February 6, 2012 [30 favorites]


Wow, I literally don't know anyone with a landline. None of my friends and roommates, not my landlord. Even my dad and grandma are on cell phones only. Maybe we should set up a gvoice number and have the messages autoforwarded to everyone's emails?
posted by Garm at 12:42 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously? I mean, yes, this is a problem, but the guy couldn't think of any land lines? Any? Not even someone's work number? True, the whole no-one-memorizes-numbers-anymore thing is likely to become an issue, but geez, I can think of a few numbers off the top of my head. He had five days in there. All he needed was to get in touch with one person with access to a phone book.

I know exactly two land line numbers by heart: My parents' house, and my own work phone. The couple of others I know, are for my high school friends' parents, who've all since moved. If my parents went cell-only, well, there goes my only functional memorized landline number.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:42 PM on February 6, 2012


resulting in false imprisonment charges to which he ultimately plead guilty.

Even the guilty should have access to due process.

The fact that the tiny percentage of people who can actually pay exorbitant bails are disallowed from doing so is not a serious or major problem.

I think the problem is the fact that EVERYBODY is disallowed from doing so. Meaning that, yes, this is a pretty big deal.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:43 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


The only land lines I have memorized are my parent's because I memorized them before the days of cell phones. I can easily foresee a day when I'm unable to recall any.

The only land line I have memorised is my dad's I think. So if I end up in jail, this is probably not going to be a problem for me, as my dad is the sort of person who lives in a major city and still has dial-up by choice. On the other hand, my mother keeps moving and I think I know her current area code, but that's it.
posted by hoyland at 12:43 PM on February 6, 2012


valkyryn: “Seriously? I mean, yes, this is a problem, but the guy couldn't think of any land lines? Any?”

This has nothing to do with Mr Petrick's weird-ass case, but: yes. I've been arrested. Being arrested will do remarkable things to your memory. And remembering long strings of numbers I have had no reason to remember was not something I was capable of.
posted by koeselitz at 12:43 PM on February 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


This happened to someone very close to me a couple of years ago; he was literally lost for two days in L.A. County Jail after being booked for a DUI (he blew a .09, so one one-hundredth over the limit), despite having the money to post his bond, despite being an attorney himself, and despite his wife and law firm trying to get the jail to tell us where he was. He could not get anyone in the jail to let him have a phone call or let him post the money until another inmate -- a gang member, as it turned out -- actually took a bailiff aside at his own hearing in front of a judge and told him what was going on with my friend.
posted by scody at 12:44 PM on February 6, 2012 [38 favorites]


And we wonder why the LA County jails are so crowded that hardened criminals such as Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton only spend hours in there.
posted by Madamina at 12:44 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've changed cell phone number so frequently that I haven't bothered memorizing my current one and I've had it for 1+ years now.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:45 PM on February 6, 2012


The only landline numbers I have memorized are:
(1) My parents (because their number hasn't changed in 10 years) - not exactly unhelpful but they don't have a voicemail machine on their landline so if I miss them, there goes my one call

(2) My own work number. Again, not exactly helpful as, if I'm in jail, there will be no one to pick up the phone.
posted by muddgirl at 12:45 PM on February 6, 2012


I wonder if this thread's comments would be any different if this were a single mother who was arrested on a traffic technicality (I personally know more than one person whom this has happened to) without her cell phone or any change, and who had been on her way to pick up her kids from school.
posted by davejay at 12:46 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is not a serious problem.

How is this not a serious problem? Or do only rich white dudes not know landline numbers for people who could get them bail?

It's getting attention because he's a rich white dude. That is a good thing, since perhaps now a few more non-rich, non-white dudes will be able to call someone who can make their $5K bond.
posted by rtha at 12:46 PM on February 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


So, really, what's the solution? It's not the job of the police to act like an ombudsman, and eventually, he probably spoke with a public defender before arraignment. You could allow collect calls to cell phones, but that's a nightmare discussion with telcos.

Seems like he just didn't get an arraignment fast enough. That's the court's fault. But no one wants to spend money on that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:47 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I feel like they kind of glossed over the part where he was keeping a pregnant heroin addict locked in his home, resulting in false imprisonment charges to which he ultimately plead guilty.

Why? Seriously. If you think that he should have been denied bail that's another issue entirely. (And when he was bailed out he didn't flee the country or anything.) The whole point about bail is until you are proven guilty there's no reason you should be in jail unless you are a flight risk or there is some seriously extenuating circumstance.
posted by aspo at 12:47 PM on February 6, 2012


My parents don't have a land line any more, and neither do any of my older surviving relatives.

Next up: prisons refuse to allow visits from anyone not riding a horse or in a horse-drawn carriage.
posted by aramaic at 12:47 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, really, what's the solution?

Same as it is in surrounding jurisdictions: lists of bondsmen taped to the wall near the phones. The OC seemed to find it a manageable system.
posted by rtha at 12:48 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, really, what's the solution?

Isn't the solution an available list of bail bondsmen?
posted by josher71 at 12:49 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, really, what's the solution?

Well, you could get rid of money bail (DC has done that, basically), so that's one solution, but giving him a phone book seems like a good first step.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


He had five days in there. All he needed was to get in touch with one person with access to a phone book.

The jail should have a phone book, at the literal bare minimum. There is literally no reason why there shouldn't be a phone book in there. None. Not only are phone books free, but they give out far more than anyone will ever take.

Granted, I live in New York, but on the stoop of my building there is literally an abandoned, shrink-wrapped, free-as-in-beer phone book just sitting there, lurking waiting. It has been sitting there for days.

This is not a serious problem. Let's fix the serious problems before we move on to making things a bit less uncomfortable for rich white dudes trying to run unlicensed rehab clinics out of their homes, shall we?

Yeah, totally, tubular, radical, you're right, it's impossible to fix nonserious problems before all the serious problems have been fixed. That's why I can't bathe until we get universal health care.

At the very minimum, they should have had a phone book in the goddamn jail. Or even just a list of bail bondsmen. But seriously, why not also a phone book?
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Actually, after thinking about it some, why can't you make a collect call to a cell phone? I mean, in a way every call to a cell phone is a collect call, but if somebody wanted to make an actual collect call to a cell phone, it shouldn't be too hard to add traditional collect call billing to the receiving party's cell phone bill.

Of course this is easier said than done (I do telecom billing, and thankfully haven't had to deal with collect calls), but it's gonna become a bigger and bigger issue as cell phones become more prevalent.
posted by kmz at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2012


So, really, what's the solution? It's not the job of the police to act like an ombudsman, and eventually, he probably spoke with a public defender before arraignment. You could allow collect calls to cell phones, but that's a nightmare discussion with telcos.

There are all kinds of solutions: let bail bondsmen pay to have their numbers listed at jails; keep a (free from the phone company) telephone book by the phone; have the jail pay for free local calls instead of only allowing collect calls (it would cost an absolute pittance); allow an arrestee to use their own cell phone to place their phone call (not perfect but it would help somewhat).
posted by jedicus at 12:51 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the problem with 'list of bondsmen' is one of graft - the bondsmen who slips a police officer a couple bucks gets their name higher on the list.

Not that that's a good reason against providing a list.
posted by muddgirl at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


re: the crime - if you've watched any amount of intervention, that's not really surprising at all. families of addicts (who are sometimes addicts themselves) sometimes go down a pretty horrific tough love path. i just watched one where an admittedly creepy guy thought he was doing the right thing when he tried to detox his girlfriend by locking her in a room for days. he had to be informed that was masterfully illegal even if he thought he was doing it for her own good.
posted by nadawi at 12:53 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the problem with 'list of bondsmen' is one of graft - the bondsmen who slips a police officer a couple bucks gets their name higher on the list.

So, alphabetize the list. Problem solved.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:53 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl - that was the reason i've always heard. there's just too much potential for favoritism/pay offs - "accidentally" scratch out a number or change a number or a guard can hand the list over pointing at a certain name.
posted by nadawi at 12:54 PM on February 6, 2012


I know one land line number. Maybe two. Both family.
posted by effugas at 12:54 PM on February 6, 2012


Officials in other counties, however, say they're having no such problem and have found easy ways to provide phone numbers to everybody in jail.

An Orange County jail spokeswoman, for example, says that a list of bond companies, with phone numbers, is posted in both the booking area and in the common rooms used by inmates. She says the bond agencies must contact a company that contracts with the county, and they pay to get on the list that goes inside the jail.

In San Diego County, the Sheriff's Department used to provide inmates with the Yellow Pages but recently replaced the bulky phone book with an alphabetical listing of bail bonds companies provided to the jail by a local association of bail agencies.

posted by rtha at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2012


So... I guess pass a law that says the list must be provided, and must be alphebetized? And must be updated a certain number of times per year, and must include every bondsman within a certain radius?

On preview: ...and that guards can't show favoritism to one bondsman or anther?

Again, it's a stupid reason, but I can see why it's not as simple as "provide a list."
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2012


So, alphabetize the list. Problem solved.

Why do you think there are so many AAA Locksmiths and AAA Bail Bondsmen?
posted by eriko at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, really, what's the solution?

A phone that doesn't just make collect calls.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Why do you think there are so many AAA Locksmiths and AAA Bail Bondsmen?

I only trust !!!!!! Bonds.
posted by kmz at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


The phone books are probably all in use for beatings.
posted by thelonius at 12:57 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, he got credit for the time served--I have a hunch that he isolated himself from other prisoners or staff who might have been helpful--five days,there is something wrong with the system but also possible with him.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:57 PM on February 6, 2012


there's just too much potential for favoritism/pay offs - "accidentally" scratch out a number or change a number or a guard can hand the list over pointing at a certain name.

So, use a phone book, which is already pre-arranged and pre-laid out according to their own neutral terms. Check every so often to see if the phone book is still intact. If someone has been tearing things out, then grab a new, free phone book.

Why do you think there are so many AAA Locksmiths and AAA Bail Bondsmen?

So what? No, really, so what? If it bugs you, start AAAA Bail Bondsmen.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:58 PM on February 6, 2012


have the jail pay for free local calls instead of only allowing collect calls (it would cost an absolute pittance);

Seriously. Phone service isn't free, but neither is feeding and housing hundreds of thousands of felons and yet that doesn't seem to be going out of fashion.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


To me the possibility of graft is far less troubling then the possibly of not being able to make bail. As far as I'm concerned, if I get in touch with a bail bondsmen while in jail I'm happy. I don't care what advertising or methods they used to get my attention.
posted by josher71 at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2012


Isn't the solution an available list of bail bondsmen?

No, because that creates a potential conflict of interest between bail bondsman and the courts.

but giving him a phone book seems like a good first step.

And what if the person you want isn't listed? Or just isn't in the phone book provided? It's not the job of the police to have the numbers of absolutely everyone. Providing a phone book means you've taken a step toward the police warranting on-demand access.

So, alphabetize the list. Problem solved.

Still doesn't solve the potential conflict of interest. What if I pay you to remove someone from the list entirely?

have the jail pay for free local calls instead of only allowing collect calls (it would cost an absolute pittance);

That might work. But what if the person I need has a cellphone and is not local?

allow an arrestee to use their own cell phone to place their phone call (not perfect but it would help somewhat).

How will you record that conversation?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:01 PM on February 6, 2012


Cool Papa Bell, I'd like to submit your post as evidence in the case Perfect v. Good.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:02 PM on February 6, 2012 [43 favorites]


I have a hunch that he isolated himself from other prisoners or staff who might have been helpful--five days,there is something wrong with the system but also possible with him.

He was placed in a medical unit because he has high blood pressure.
posted by ambrosia at 1:03 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, because that creates a potential conflict of interest between bail bondsman and the courts.

This problem seems to be entirely absent in San Diego and Orange Counties, and I bet in hundreds of other jail systems across the country. L.A. just ain't that special.
posted by rtha at 1:04 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, because that creates a potential conflict of interest between bail bondsman and the courts.

Can you elaborate more on this point?
posted by josher71 at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2012


My point in bringing this up is ... this is not a new problem and courts aren't stupid. Even before the first cell phone was ever invented, there were people getting arrested that didn't know anyone's number. Hell, some people get arrested that don't even know their own names. The cell phone thing is merely a sideshow.

Five days in lock-up doesn't have anything to do with the phone system, and it has everything to do with overcrowded and generally fucked up justice system that doesn't arraign people for five days.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:06 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I feel like they kind of glossed over the part where he was keeping a pregnant heroin addict locked in his home, resulting in false imprisonment charges to which he ultimately plead guilty.

Yes, yes, access to phones, terrible, but what on earth?
He was apparently trying to help her get clean. If he could have afforded $150k bond he probably could have paid for a professional rehab, which actually could have been done on an involuntary basis if necessary. Oh well, you live you learn.

Also,
A retrospective case controlled study was carried out on 51 Chinese gravidas who had abused narcotics and who were delivered in a teaching hospital in Hong Kong. Heroin was the most commonly abused drug. The number of patients who changed from heroin to methadone was small. The major antenatal complications were late antenatal booking (average 28 weeks), prematurity (41%), small for gestational age baby (27.5%), antepartum haemorrhage (13.7%) and high prevalence of venereal disease (23.5%). The babies born to drug addicted mothers were on average 629 g lighter at birth, 5 cm smaller in head circumference and 7 cm shorter in body length. Neonatal withdrawal symptoms occurred in 83% of all drug exposed neonates. The perinatal mortality rate was 19.6 per 1,000 total birth which was 2.5 times that of the control group. There was one maternal death in our series. Drug addiction in pregnancy poses a major risk to both mother and child.,
This isn't to say that forcing people to detox by locking them in your basement should be legal. I wonder if this was a situation where they agreed beforehand, or if he just decided it would be a good idea on his own. Clearly if he did this without her initial consent it's much worse, on the other hand if she agreed at first then changed her mind it's more understandable.

On the other hand, obviously he should have been able to call a lawyer/bondsman/friend.
No, because that creates a potential conflict of interest between bail bondsman and the courts.
So? That seems like, you know, a much smaller problem then people being stuck in jail unnecessarily for, who knows how long, because they can't call anyone to get them out.

It's like saying you shouldn't put out a fire that could burn your house down because you're worried about water damage on the carpets.
posted by delmoi at 1:07 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


No, because that creates a potential conflict of interest between bail bondsman and the courts.

Can you elaborate more on this point?


It's as simple as a bail bondsman telling a cop, "You send everyone to me, and I'll pay you a hundred bucks a head." That's illegal.

Or, let's say you call someone listed by the police and he screws you over. Now the police are liable.

A blanket policy of "We don't give out anyone's number" just takes all of this off the table.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:09 PM on February 6, 2012


(Or it's like saying we should get rid of all police because there is a possibility they could be bribed. When corruption is discovered, prosecute it.

That's what "libertarians" seem to think about government regulators, and it's moronic in that case as well)
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on February 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


So? That seems like, you know, a much smaller problem then people being stuck in jail unnecessarily for, who knows how long, because they can't call anyone to get them out.

On the other hand, you could have cops arresting people willy-nilly, knowing they'd get paid by bail bondsmen for the effort.

Like I said, the problem isn't the cops, it's the courts.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:11 PM on February 6, 2012


Or a policy of "we give out everyone's number," or "we let you call four-one-fucking-one," but that wouldn't be any fun.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:11 PM on February 6, 2012


That's what "libertarians" seem to think about government regulators

A real libertarian would tell you that you don't have any civil rights, either. After all, why should we offer collect calls at all? Why should we even have a phone?

That's why they're crazy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2012


A blanket policy of "We don't give out anyone's number" just takes all of this off the table.
It takes it off the table in exchange for a worse situation where people can't get out of prison even if they could afford bail.

So, it's a fucking stupid argument, because it's arguing that we leave a worse problem in order to avoid a completely hypothetical small problem.
Like I said, the problem isn't the cops, it's the courts.
No, the problem is the lack of the list. The problem you're pointing out is a non-problem and you're just making completely ridiculous arguments for some reason. Makes me wonder if you're just trolling or something.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's just like universal healthcare! We can't have it because of these five thousand insane hypotheticals, and who cares if it works everywhere else
posted by theodolite at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


we let you call four-one-fucking-one

Except 411 costs money now, too. You can thank telecom deregulation for that one.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]



This reminds me of something. When I worked for Ma Bell, back before the interwebs, I remember someone wanting to buy a listing in every municipality for A Florist. That way, when someone called Directory Assistance asking for A Florist in Ft. Lauderdale, their number would be given out by Directory Assistance.

So, were I a bail bondsperson, I'd be all over listings for A Bail Bondsman in (fill in the blank).
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2012


Or, let's say you call someone listed by the police and he screws you over. Now the police are liable.

Has this ever happened? Plenty of places list bail bondsmen, and I'd be incredibly surprised if this has happened even once. All of your arguments ignore the fact that posting a list of bail bondsmen is apparently common practice and the sky hasn't fallen in those places that do.

States already license bail bondsmen, so it's not like the police would be making this list up; just post the list of licensed bail bondsmen in a certain radius. I get that you're upset about other aspects of the court system, and that's cool, but there's no reason to act like this is an unsolvable problem when experience proves that it isn't.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Letting incarcerated people call 411 doesn't seem like it would be an onerous burden for the taxpayer.

This guy sounds like a massive shithead who at least had the courtesy to plead guilty (and the past tense of "plead" is PLED, for fuck's sake, Hairpin, how I hate when actual professional media get "pled" and "led" wrong), but that doesn't mean the process there isn't fucked.

It's not like the completely innocent people being railroaded are treated any better, if that's what it takes to open up people's compassion taps.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 PM on February 6, 2012


Except 411 costs money now, too. You can thank telecom deregulation for that one.

Oh, well if it would cost money. Thank God holding trials and imprisoning people for years is free!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:18 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know any land lines.

I am now kinda considering getting at least 1 land line tattooed somewhere inconspicuous.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:18 PM on February 6, 2012


I feel like they kind of glossed over the part where he was keeping a pregnant heroin addict locked in his home, resulting in false imprisonment charges to which he ultimately plead guilty.

That sounds like the kind of person I don't want back out on the streets because "your honor, my client was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he wasn't allowed to call directory assistance, therefore I declare a mistrial."

Sometimes granting better care to the people who are under arrest benefits the rest of us too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 PM on February 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder if this company also blocks calls to VOIP numbers. I know Paypal can tell and refuses to allow you to use VOIP numbers. so I would expect this might be the case as well. I note this because my house doesn't have a landline, we get it through the cable company and it's effectively VOIP, thus firsthand knowledge.
posted by mephron at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]



Also, you know how the taxi's number is 777-7777, a bondsman should try and get a snappy number, perhaps put it to a jingle. Even if you're a newbie to jail, someone there would know it.

Make it spell something cute, like 555-Spring me, or 555-Get Me Ou(t). (The extra T is for savings!)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2012


delmoi, I don't know why you seem to want to pick fights with me,

Well, you keep insisting that the posting of bondsmen's numbers would be a problem, when it is demonstrably not a problem in the many, many places that post lists. It's a weird argument.
posted by rtha at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, you could get rid of money bail (DC has done that, basically)

So, never having had the pleasure of getting arrested in DC... how does that work?
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:25 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another thing you could do: let the inmate ask for a contact number from their confiscated cell phone. They don't even have to be allowed to touch the thing. Just have someone get it from evidence/belongings (depending on the bin it falls into), open the address book and find the number. No collect calls to cell phones still applies, but even if nobody you know has a landline at their home, you can call a work number.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:26 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell isn't trolling. there are a lot of jails that don't post the numbers and the reasons always given are the ones Cool Papa Bell is repeating. you might think it's dumb, but it's certainly not disingenuous.
posted by nadawi at 1:26 PM on February 6, 2012


I had a friend who got locked up on a failure to appear charge. The cops had let the warrant sit out there for four years and done nothing about it, even though he had never moved and was living at the same address the entire time.

So I suppose his fugitive status pissed the cops off because they made sure to fuck him over real good. Like the man mentioned in this story he spent a few days in jail without being able to contact anyone. They told him that he wouldn't be able to use the phone until he had been booked. They also would remind him that he had no constitutional right to a phone call. So the process of being booked took several days. I don't remember anymore but I think that it was something like 4 days. He spent half of that time in solitary confinement, in a cell basically the size of a closet. This was so they could make sure that he "would detox off of any drugs in his system." Ironically enough he was on the same block as Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the DC snipers.

When they finally booked him he contacted his family and they bonded him out. When the case went to trial the judge threw out all the charges and scolded the police for what happened to him. The case was null prossed on the fact that he was living "in plain sight" the entire time he had been a fugitive.

In case you haven't figured it out this was in Fairfax County Virginia. I'm figuring that stuff like what happened to the fellow in the story and to my friend happens all the time, it just doesn't make the news.
posted by smoothvirus at 1:27 PM on February 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Isn't the solution an available list of bail bondsmen?

No, because that creates a potential conflict of interest between bail bondsman and the courts.


So, use this thing called a phone book, or a third-party curated list which is not administered by prison guards.

but giving him a phone book seems like a good first step.

And what if the person you want isn't listed?

Then you can't reach them. Fortunately, there are profit incentives for bail bondsmen to be listed in the yellow pages, so that's not a problem as far as bail bondsmen are considered.

Or just isn't in the phone book provided?

See above.

It's not the job of the police to have the numbers of absolutely everyone.

Literally nobody said this was the case.

Providing a phone book means you've taken a step toward the police warranting on-demand access.

Literally nobody would think this was the case.

So, alphabetize the list. Problem solved.

Still doesn't solve the potential conflict of interest. What if I pay you to remove someone from the list entirely?


Pick up another free phone book or use a list which is curated by a third party.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:28 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay that's unsettling because I live in an unincorporated area of Fairfax County.

Note to self: Pay any speeding tickets I get while living here. Promptly.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:28 PM on February 6, 2012


Good thing none of you have been arrested here in Wisconsin where it's illegal to operate a bail bond service...

Wis. Stat. § 969.12 provides that no surety can be compensated for serving as a surety, effectively eliminating the commercial bond market. See Kahn v. McCormack, 299 N.W. 2d 279 (Ct. App. 1980)(upholding constitutionality of statute and stating that purpose of the law is eliminate the commercial bond industry).
posted by MikeMc at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I feel like they kind of glossed over the part where he was keeping a pregnant heroin addict locked in his home, resulting in false imprisonment charges to which he ultimately plead guilty.

Look, there are very few perfect victims in jail - by which I mean white, photogenic, well-spoken, middle-class people who obviously did not do the thing they're accused of. This fact is routinely used to cover up abuse of prisoners. Some of those prisoners are near-perfect - they didn't do what they're accused of, they're accused of something trivial (minor drugs offense, frex) or understandable (shoplifting or prostitution while hungry and homeless). Some of them are pretty terrible. Many fall inbetween. None of them should be abused or denied due process, especially out of what is obviously bog-standard petty sadism. ("We don't want to favor one bail bondsman!" "This isn't going to change!")
posted by Frowner at 1:38 PM on February 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


(To clarify - the media is far more interested when white people are abused, not that white people deserve abuse less by virtue of being white)
posted by Frowner at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, never having had the pleasure of getting arrested in DC... how does that work?

I've forgotten a great deal about the technical way the DC bail law is structured, but the practical effect is that DC doesn't use money bond much at all; instead, they either release you subject to conditions or they hold you, but if they release you it's supposed to be subject to the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure your appearance. That means you'll probably have to report to the pretrial services agency, but they don't typically demand a money bond. I think most people get released, a fair number of people are simply held without bond, and a tiny number get a money bond. It's not actually done away with completely, but you're very unlikely to get one.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


The best part about the "we don't want to favor one bail bondsman" idiocy is that it's not only readily defeated by the use of a third party, such as a privately-made phone book, but also that we do not follow this logic at all when it comes to contracted public services and sponsored local monopolies, including privatized jails/prisons.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


rtha: “How is this not a serious problem? Or do only rich white dudes not know landline numbers for people who could get them bail? It's getting attention because he's a rich white dude. That is a good thing, since perhaps now a few more non-rich, non-white dudes will be able to call someone who can make their $5K bond.”

You're right. I should have said: the problems with the bail bond system will not be solved by providing a list of phone numbers of bail bondspeople next to the phone. Yes, it will be solved for guys like this who can easily afford their $150,000 bond, not to mention the 10% most bail bondspeople charge for this kind of thing. It will not be solved for the multitudes of people who can't really afford the $500 to cover 10% of their $5000 bond (which is a common amount.)
posted by koeselitz at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aren't bail bondsman and bounty hunters illegal in the civilized world because they exploit the poor?

Instead, the judges elsewhere usually consider the defendant's circumstances, one recent case where some British kid surrendered his Xbox and needed to meet with police weekly.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:52 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sticherbeast: “The best part about the ‘we don't want to favor one bail bondsman’ idiocy is that it's not only readily defeated by the use of a third party, such as a privately-made phone book, but also that we do not follow this logic at all when it comes to contracted public services and sponsored local monopolies, including privatized jails/prisons.”

Look, I guess I go with you this far. Putting a phone book next to the phone is probably a great fix for this one guy and maybe a few other people in this situation.

But it is flatly not a solution to the massive problem of bail bonds in general. Bail bonds are a system that needs to end. It needs to end immediately. And the worst part is – ending it immediately would be easy. Judges already have to deal with sentencing, judges already have to put down a specific bond. Just require that judges follow bail guidelines that are based on income, not on crime, and everything would work fine. This should be short work for a small state legislative committee.

But nobody does it. Why?

I have a feeling you feel this way, too – or else you might not have mentioned the example of privatized jails.
posted by koeselitz at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2012


I have a feeling you feel this way, too – or else you might not have mentioned the example of privatized jails.

I do feel this way, but this story was about a smaller, discrete problem, easily remedied for literally no money and minimal effort. Bail reform (if not elimination) is indeed long overdue, but it's a harder sell, which doesn't mean that it's not worth doing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:00 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


(and the past tense of "plead" is PLED, for fuck's sake, Hairpin, how I hate when actual professional media get "pled" and "led" wrong)

The Associated Press Stylebook calls for the use of pleaded. It's not wrong; it's just a different style.
posted by rewil at 2:08 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is Los Angeles County waiting for the bail bondsmen to sponsor their listing in the phone call booth? Or have they already accepted sponsorships from the bail bondsmen trucks parked outside of the local precincts?
posted by GregorWill at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2012


The trick is to call 1-800-COLLECT or equivalent, then use a credit card to pay for the call. Make sure you have all relevant numbers memorized or written on your body (they will take your wallet/purse before allowing you to make the call).

Doesn't work so well when you get arrested when not expecting it.
posted by ryanrs at 2:23 PM on February 6, 2012


In American legal contexts, pleaded is correct.
posted by ryanrs at 2:24 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Most likely the jail's budget is linked to how many prisoner hours they accumulate, meaning the longer people stay, the more they can make ends meet.
posted by effugas at 2:24 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bail bonds are a system that needs to end. .. But nobody does it. Why?

Americans might wind up believing in indefinite detention for poor people accused of crimes perhaps?

Isn't it perfectly logical that, since rich people will eventually be found innocent anyways, we shouldn't keep them in jail in the first place. And therefore poor people accused of a crime should simply be kept in jail without bail since they'll be found guilty?

We could even simplify the whole system by simply asking your bank for your account balance whenever your arrested. We'd let you out if you have the bail, but you needn't actually pay it.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:24 PM on February 6, 2012


Having run a prison at one time and later consulting with jails in multiple jurisdictions re: establishing diversion programs for mentally ill prisoners there is something missing in this story--jails are usually more than glad to get rid of as many potential prisoners as possible. Almost all jails have pre-screening/diversion programs. I find it somewhat improbable that he was unable to contact anyone for 5 days. Not being conversant with this jail service I suppose it is possible--I am also suspect in that he had ample funds to make bail.I do not know the thoroughness or political bent of the newspaper that published this. Perhaps I can be informed.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:25 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lots of poor people don't have bank accounts. What would they do in such a system?
posted by rtha at 2:31 PM on February 6, 2012


Why do you think there are so many AAA Locksmiths and AAA Bail Bondsmen?

So what? No, really, so what? If it bugs you, start AAAA Bail Bondsmen.


This just leads to the senseless war of the alphabet currently being waged in King County.

First there was "All-City" and "Aces Bail Bonds," vying for the top of the phone book listings. Then came "A Ace Bail Bonds." Now, though, ye gods. All hell has broken loose in the war to be first on the list. "A AAAA All-Pro" threw down a gauntlet, answered thunderously by "A AAA AAA Acme." The current undisputed champion is "A AAA AAA A-Plus Bail Bonds, Inc." The King County Jail, of course, shuffles the list posted on the wall.

Also, there really is no legit reason I can think of to not leave a phone book or list of bond agents near the jail phone. Seriously, come on. At least give the guy the number to the on-call public defender or something.
posted by bepe at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I only trust !!!!!! Bonds.

I prefer #00001, they are clearly the best.
posted by contraption at 2:36 PM on February 6, 2012


I don't find this surprising at all. The Buncombe County jail kept my 16 year old son for 3 full days without a phone call. He knew my office number (I thought he was camping with friends and he would have been but, well, long story here) but the idiot who was answering our office phones immediately slammed it down on hearing "You have a collect call from the Buncombe County Detention Center." No phone calls were at that time (they have since changed this) allowed to cell phones. If a lawyer friend of mine hadn't spotted him, he could have been in there forever as far as I could tell. The lawyers and the judge were not outraged or surprised, either, because this is business as usual. North Carolina, by the way, is one of the enlightened states that treats 16 and 17 year olds as full adults for the purposes of the law. Most 16 year olds, though, don't think of calling a bondsman. They'd like to call their mothers. Baltimore city was the same right up until the mid 2000s - no phone calls to cell phones.

Oh and because I know more about this stuff than I really want to discuss here, each phone call from jail or prison costs anywhere between $10 and $20 for an up to ten minute call that can be broken off at any time. It depends on which company holds the contract. the on-call public defender Ha. Ha ha ha. There isn't one. You get assigned one after the first hearing and you're very lucky if he or she will come to jail to talk to you. You cannot call them.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


I was speaking facetiously, rtha, but my point was that koeselitz's, and my own, objection to bail bondsmen doesn't fit well with the America's current morality.

Average Americans hold a fundamentally immoral position on crime and punishment, presumably perpetuated by scum like Nancy Grace. And obviously all the law enforcement interests that benefit form the drug war.

I'd expect we'll end the drug war before outlawing the patently exploitive practice of bail bondsmen.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I suppose this old number from Philly 215-472-1802 (obviously, even if it IS a land line that still exists, highly highly doubtful it belongs to the person it belonged to then) which belonged to one Mr. Jeff Townes (aka: Jazzy Jeff, my 7th grade brain hoped, I mean, my god, how many Jeff Townes can there be in Philly?) ca. 1989 is probably not the kind of number you mean to have memorized. Nevertheless, it's in my brain.

Prolly won't help me catch bail, though. *sigh*
posted by symbioid at 2:48 PM on February 6, 2012


"I am now kinda considering getting at least 1 land line tattooed somewhere inconspicuous."

Better call Saul!
posted by Jacqueline at 2:49 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure the only two landlines I have memorized are my office phone (which no one but me answers) and my mother's home phone (which has been the same since at least 1982, except for a couple of area code changes, but is in another state*) -- and the only other two phone numbers I have memorized are my cell number and Mr. epersonae's cell number.

the senseless war of the alphabet - my new band name.

* I just realized that when she moves, which is probably sometime this year, she'll have an entirely new phone number for the first time in at least 20 years.
posted by epersonae at 2:50 PM on February 6, 2012


rmhsinc: “Having run a prison at one time and later consulting with jails in multiple jurisdictions re: establishing diversion programs for mentally ill prisoners there is something missing in this story--jails are usually more than glad to get rid of as many potential prisoners as possible. Almost all jails have pre-screening/diversion programs.”

I'm not quite sure I understand. Most people who get arrested don't end up actually in general population in a jail for several days, at least. Diversion programs can't possibly start until booking finishes, and that usually happens (at the soonest) in about 24 hours. And what exactly do "pre-screening/diversion" programs look like? I've never seen such a program, having been on both sides of the equation (I also worked for Denver Juvenile Probation for a few years) and I'm interesting in what that would look like.

“I find it somewhat improbable that he was unable to contact anyone for 5 days. Not being conversant with this jail service I suppose it is possible--I am also suspect in that he had ample funds to make bail.I do not know the thoroughness or political bent of the newspaper that published this. Perhaps I can be informed.”

It actually makes a lot of sense; the guy is single, lives alone, and is retired. Maybe you can square me on this, but it's my experience that it isn't really the job of jails to go around trying to contact family members. Is this common, in your experience? It is not in mine.

And regardless of either of our experience, I think it should be emphasized that jails in the United States are remarkably diverse, and while you may have worked in jails that took care of these things, they would not by any stretch be the norm.
posted by koeselitz at 2:51 PM on February 6, 2012


One of the things I noticed when I moved back to Southern California is the huge amount of ads on TV, radio, newspaper, buses, bus benches for bail bondsmen. I don't know if the San Diego county jails list bondsman and I've never been in jail anywhere (except that one time in Mexico) but with the coverage I actually know a bail bondsman's phone number by heart (619.512.BAIL...this was easy to remember because it is my current area code, my old area code and the word bail. I don't know what company this is for but I wish it was King Stahlman because they have that cheesy jingle "It's better to know me and not need me, than to need me and not know me."). And I couldn't tell you my own mother's phone number (and I remember part if but it is to her cellphone because it is 2012 and not even my 72 year old mother is sitting next to the phone 24/7). I stopped remembering phone numbers when I got my first cellphone. What does suck nowadays is I'm not alone.

Clearly Los Angeles County has the means easily rectify this situation in about 5 minutes if they wanted to. But to many people anyone that is in jail is guilty so fuck them. "they wouldn't be in jail if they didn't do anything wrong." Cops in many jurisdictions will threaten to take you to jail for even the most minor traffic violations if you resist letting them search your car or something because going to jail is fucked up. Even if the arrest was groundless and the charges get dropped, you're still fucked out of a lot of your time and money.

Jails only providing the ability to make collect calls is bullshit as well. But that is a nice contract with a collect-call-service provider. In the old copper wired telephone world making calls was expensive, but in the world of VOIP the cost of the call rounds down to zero. The could allow calls (within the US) as part of your phone call and have a surcharge added to your bail to make up for the loss of revenue from the kickback they get from the collect-call company the jail has contracted with. In a few years people just won't have landlines. And I'd rather not have the "solution" be to enable phones to accept collect phone calls. Just like not providing a list of bail bondsmen, part of your punishment for getting arrested is not being able to call mobile numbers. To many people, if you were an upstanding citizen you wouldn't be in jail looking to get bailed out in the first place.

Almost all jails have pre-screening/diversion programs.
Most of those programs require the detained to admit guilt (or plead no contest which to future employers is just as bad as guilty). Sure, some diversion programs will expunge the charges later, but until you meet those steps you just admitted to being guilty of the crime. If you happen to think you're innocent, that doesn't help you prove your innocence.
posted by birdherder at 2:51 PM on February 6, 2012


We need to address reform in all our jails and prisons. You may think, "but i never do anything to put me in jail", but then the cops might mistake your address and break down your door and haul you away for "resisting arrest" (if you aren't shot outright in the raid.) You may then spend more time sitting in jail then you do in your car, and how much time did you spend shopping for the right car before you bought it? We allow citizens to ride along with the cops, but where is the citizen oversight of our jails and prisons?
posted by Catblack at 2:54 PM on February 6, 2012


A AAA AAA A-Plus Bail Bonds

I could not believe this was a thing, so I looked then up. Indeed, they exist, with the slogan 'Cause Your Momma Wants You Home'.

Cheery!
posted by winna at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I know I'm an idiot when it comes to the law, and an even bigger idiot for still believing in a shred of Constitutional authority and due process in our fucked up, godforsaken shithole of a country (and boy, I probably picked the wrong week to finally begin watching "The Wire"!) but isn't it one of those rules of due process that a person has to be charged in 72 hours or let go? Did that change/end at some point?

I mean, 72 hours is a long time, and is likely used to harass people such as anti-war/political protesters by keeping them locked up for the weekend before letting them go... but if he was held 5 days without charge or access to a lawyer/bail- or going in front of a judge to get formally charged within 72 hours, at which point at minimum a public defender would have been there for him to say "Contact these people, they can come bail me out"... doesn't he have both a massive civil rights law suit as well as the means to make it happen?
posted by hincandenza at 3:03 PM on February 6, 2012


Addicts getting clean is a difficult problem to reconcile with human rights of self-determination. You pretty much don't have any self-detemination as such while desperate for the fix. After getting the fix, you can be regretful and ashamed and sincerely intend to get off the drug, even to the point of begging your friends and family to lock you up and even tie you to a bed and not release you no matter how you plead ... and then, soon as withdrawal kicks in, you're back to begging to be released, and you promise you won't go score a hit, cross your heart, just let me out of this room ...

My point is, it may sound "hinky" or "creepy" or any of those lovely summing-it-all-up words that end in "y" that people who live untroubled lives like to use, but sometimes agreeing to be locked up in advance, and agreeing that your subsequent pleas should be ignored, is a better option than state-run rehab, especially in jurisdictions that will treat you as a criminal and enthusiastically ruin your life rather than treat you as what you are - a mental health patient and victim of yourself.

But for the same reason that the state prosecutes the addict (ie, dumbfuck refusal to look at the whole truth of situations rather than the ideological story), helping an addict get clean in this way incurs significant legal risk. "You can't contract away your basic human rights." Great, except that you already did, and the contract was with the drug dealers.

So, Don't do "amateur rehab" unless you've planned for legal contingencies (in particular, cops showing up looking for the addict), don't take it on alone, have the consent and knowledge of others whom the addict trusts, and do it somewhere where, if it goes wrong and they are physically able to escape, they won't run out straight into traffic. And be very, very clear on all of these points with the addict before they agree to go through the process. I can see this guy having sincere intentions, but his planning was pretty poor.

Of course it's far preferable to help her get to somewhere where rehab is done professionally and is legally protected. However, the US drug policy model militates against it. It's analogous to kitchen abortions. Nobody wants kitchen abortions to happen, yet if the conditions are right, they will.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:13 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Associated Press Stylebook calls for the use of pleaded. It's not wrong; it's just a different style.

"Pleaded" is fine, too. The article said "plead" though, which is not the past tense (if they changed it to "pleaded" that's recent).
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:36 PM on February 6, 2012


I know I'm an idiot when it comes to the law, and an even bigger idiot for still believing in a shred of Constitutional authority and due process in our fucked up, godforsaken shithole of a country (and boy, I probably picked the wrong week to finally begin watching "The Wire"!) but isn't it one of those rules of due process that a person has to be charged in 72 hours or let go? Did that change/end at some point?

In this case the person was arranged and this has to happen 72 hours of arrest according to California law. This is why on the police procedural TV programs, sometimes the tough as nails captain tells his detectives to charge him with a lesser charge to keep from having to turn the perp loose (they think he's a serial rapist but don't have the evidence to charge him, so they'll charge him with resisting arrest or criminal jaywalking or whatever to keep him in jail longer...they'd want to charge the guy with something that would get a higher bail to keep in jail. If it was jaywalking-level crime, they just would release the bad guy on his own recognizance). Of course on the TV shows, the guy in jail is always guilty.

At arrangement your bail is set. At that point the court could have let him out on his own recognizance. But apparently here the County Attorney argued for $150K bail and the judge agreed. It was a serious felony charge, after all. The problem in this case is he could get bailed out but couldn't because he couldn't call anyone. His argument is by making it so difficult to get bailed out, it was as if he was being held without bail.

Now if he was suspected of terrorism-related crimes, the 72 hour rule goes out the window.
posted by birdherder at 3:44 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There has to be more to this story--no coverage that I can find except LA Weekly and several blogs/ads/etc. for special interest groups such as bail bond services--also, this in Santa Monica news--bail was originally set at $50,000 which suggests there was some arraignment/hearing in Santa Monica before going to LA--maybe not but ??? "Santa Monica Police officers responded to the corner of Ninth Street and Pico Boulevard after receiving a report of a woman who jumped from a vehicle. When officers arrived,they made contact with the woman, who told them that she was being held against her will by a man she met in Downtown Los Angeles a few days earlier. The woman said she was homeless when she met the man, who offered her a place to stay in Santa Monica. She took him up on the offer, but after a few days of living with him, she said the man started making demands. On Nov. 13, she said she tried to leave the home and was unable to open the sliding glass door. The suspect allegedly refused to let her leave. When she
tried to make a call on her cell phone, the man ripped it from her hands, she told police. After a short time, the suspect opened the sliding door and offered the woman a ride back to Los Angeles. The woman said she noticed they were traveling west on Pico Boulevard and not east, so she jumped out of the car in the 900 block of Pico, where she received assistance from several witnesses. After interviewing the suspect, he was placed under arrest and booked for robbery and false imprisonment. He was identified as Stephen Phillip Petrick, 67, of Santa Monica. His bail was set at $50,000.

posted by rmhsinc at 3:53 PM on February 6, 2012


At arrangement your bail is set.

ugh, arraignment
posted by ryanrs at 4:10 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most 16 year olds, though, don't think of calling a bondsman. They'd like to call their mothers.

I'm 28 and live on the opposite side of the country from her, and I'd still call my mother. Seriously, if I were in jail, she'd want me out as much as I would, and she'd probably be better situated to make that happen, what with being allowed to make phone calls.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:10 PM on February 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


birdherder: But apparently here the County Attorney argued for $150K bail and the judge agreed. It was a serious felony charge, after all. The problem in this case is he could get bailed out but couldn't because he couldn't call anyone.
Right, this is the part I find baffling- to get arraigned, he had to appear before a judge, which means he either had to be allowed to contact a lawyer (which he couldn't, as he didn't know a lawyer's number) or there was a public defender assigned. And I'm having a hard time understanding why he couldn't have the PD contact "Someone from this list of people". I know PD's are overworked, but it seems like even a lazy PD would at least contact someone- including potentially someone who could get this guy a lawyer and take him off my plate. And after 2-3 days, I'd be happy to have them blast an email allemployees@mycompany.com if it would get me the fuck out of the jail.


rmhsinc: that's nice, but nothing about his guilt or culpability should affect the story of the bail. That said, he sounds like a controlling prick, possibly one of those "the homeless are homeless by choice" types- although if he was driving her somewhere, it's hard to say he's truly guilty. He offered to let her live at his home, she agreed. He started making [unspecified] demands, so she tried to leave but the door was locked. She then tried to make a phone call (wait- did she asked for him to open the door first or not?), and she asked him to let her leave and he said "no"... but then 'after a short time' said "yes". Just how long do you have to say "no" for it to actually be unlawful imprisonment? So he opens the door and offers to drive her to LA; she apparently wasn't in fear of him enough that she accepted his offer. He drove her away from the house, although I don't know enough about Pico (except that it ends in Santa Monica) to know why she thought they were going in a totally wrong direction. She then hopped out of the moving car (did she even ask him to stop?) and ended the encounter. Interestingly, what little I know of LA/Pico is that the 900 block would be here. If you look on the map, that's close enough to Santa Monica that he couldn't have lived that far from there- and given how close it is to the shore, why did she even need or want a ride from him, or how could he have even gone "west" instead of east, unless she's implying he drove a few blocks and flipped a u-turn, which is when she hopped out?

Actually, with just that story? I don't think I'd find him guilty if I was in a jury handling his case; there's too many unanswered questions, and it doesn't sound like he posed much impediment to her leaving his place ("after a short time" being the only indication of him ever preventing her from leaving). She willingly agreed to stay there, stayed for several days, and when she felt the situation changed discovered he'd locked the doors- but soon opened them back up. Presumably, she wouldn't have likely accepted a ride from him if she felt he was keeping her captive or posed a great threat.
posted by hincandenza at 4:17 PM on February 6, 2012


ugh, arraignment

Auto correct strikes again.

bail was originally set at $50,000 which suggests there was some arraignment/hearing in Santa Monica before going to LA--maybe not but ???

In most municipalities (if not all) in the state of California, criminal court services are done at at the County Level. If you're arrested anywhere for a state/local offense in Los Angeles County you'll in front of an LA County judge (possibly at the LA County Courthouse located in the city of Santa Monica) and possibly spend time in a LA County jail.

But I agree with rmhsinc/hincandnza, there's more to this story. It doesn't' change the fact the phone situation at the jail is seriously fucked up.
posted by birdherder at 4:25 PM on February 6, 2012


Oh right- this is what I was focusing on:
Petrick says he was not able to arrange bail until after he had his first court appearance — four days after his arrest.
So did they make the 72-hour window to even charge/arraign him? If not, it seems like it's still a civil liberties violation.

Also, he couldn't contact a lawyer either, not even a PD. It was also always my understanding from having talked to legal outreach folks when I was a wayward homeless Seattle street urchin that "The cops will say 'Oh, we can't get a lawyer for you until ____' but that's not true, a PD has to be provided even at night". So surely he should have been able to reach a PD before that 4 days was up? Or did he not realize it until much later (he'll probably be a mini-expert on the law now).

I was arrested only once, on a Saturday, and it was awful- and nothing compared to what some people go through. The hell of it was (after getting out on Sunday agreeing to a plea) that even with all my piss and vinegar about civil liberties, once you're in that system you are desperate to get out and feel how it suffocates you- I'd have done almost anything to just get back out and be free. They had bail bondsmen listed in the holding cell by the pay phone, I had money... but since they took my wallet at processing I couldn't of course tell the bail bondsman on the phone my CC number, and he said without that they wouldn't come bail me out. Which... how do they ever get business? And bail was something relatively tiny like $800, too, which I could have come up with in cash at an ATM. I ended up unhappily copping to the misdemeanor plea on Sunday just to get let out late Sunday afternoon and get on with my life.
posted by hincandenza at 4:30 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So did they make the 72-hour window to even charge/arraign him? If not, it seems like it's still a civil liberties violation.

I am not a lawyer but I believe the 72 hour arraignment statue excludes weekends and holidays. If you were arrested at 4PM on a Friday, the cops won't start the clock until the courthouse opens on Monday. If Monday is a holiday, then Tuesday. The article doesn't state the day he was arrested so it could have been that. Or it could have been the cops not particularly being in a hurry or give shit about it. We don't know. But if it was a case of the cops not following the penal code he could get a nice payday from it. Sadly, LA County pays out zillions of dollars a year in settlements like that.
posted by birdherder at 4:46 PM on February 6, 2012


Sadly, LA County pays out zillions of dollars a year in settlements like that.

Do you have a source for this? I'd love to think that LA County is having to settle regularly with folks for denying their civil rights, but if they're paying really astronomical amounts I would guess they'd put some protections in place, if only because at a certain point it simply ceases to be cost-effective to treat arrestees like this.
posted by scody at 4:53 PM on February 6, 2012


It's pretty common to spend 5 actual days in jail without exceeding the 72 hour limit. Weekends don't count and judges get a lot of holidays.
posted by ryanrs at 4:57 PM on February 6, 2012


A friend of a friend got locked up this weekend for "possession" (he was with a guy who had a couple of buds) and couldn't make bail so he was sent here. It's a full on prison setting with cavity searches etc.

This morning he was brought back to town for arraignment only to find out that there were no charges against him anyway. He is now totally traumatized and won't leave his bedroom.

What the heck is that? A "scared straight" program? I hear about crap like this at least a few times a year.

(Sorry, not exactly on topic.)
posted by snsranch at 5:01 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, I looked in my phone book for bail bondsmen. First off, you know those small "green" phone books (and they're not very green if they come with the regular phone book)? All they do is reduce the text size to an unreadable size.

Anyway, I looked in the phone book for bail bondsmen. I was disappointed that there weren't any !+AAA AA A Bonds. It seems like lots of ads are more common. There were two bond companies with two ads each.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:05 PM on February 6, 2012


This morning he was brought back to town for arraignment only to find out that there were no charges against him anyway. He is now totally traumatized and won't leave his bedroom.

This sounds like an excellent basis for a civil suit for false imprisonment.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:09 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is just wrongwrongwrong. Our legal system is so screwed up on so many levels--but we'd all be doing just fine if we had large amounts of stock in the private prison system.



And remembering long strings of numbers I have had no reason to remember was not something I was capable of.

Oh baby, I love this one. Granted, being arrested would screw with your head, but you know back in the day, we had LOTS of "long strings of numbers" memorized. Plus area codes. Heck, I even knew how to navigate the phone system of my credit union without having to listen to the prompts.

*press 1 for English*

Now you kids get off my lawn line.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:22 PM on February 6, 2012


Cool Papa Bell isn't trolling. there are a lot of jails that don't post the numbers and the reasons always given are the ones Cool Papa Bell is repeating. you might think it's dumb, but it's certainly not disingenuous.
They may give those reasons, but I kind of doubt that they are the actual reasons. The problems could be solved by 1) providing a list of registered, regulated bondsmen, and 2) randomizing the list every week, or using an alphabetized list with a random start point (i.e. q-z followed by a-p) which is what they did with the California recall election when they had a million candidates.

Come on, anyone who thinks about it for ten seconds can figure out a solution that doesn't involve people sitting in jail for days. If they can't, they obviously actually do want people to sit in jail for days. It's instrumental stupidity: pretending a solution doesn't exist to a problem you don't want solved.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


This must be why I'm not a reporter. Because my story would have been about the fact that a 67-year-old retired white guy decided to re-enact the plot of Black Snake Moan.
posted by Cortes at 6:12 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you have a source for this? I'd love to think that LA County is having to settle regularly with folks for denying their civil rights, but if they're paying really astronomical amounts I would guess they'd put some protections in place, if only because at a certain point it simply ceases to be cost-effective to treat arrestees like this.

I purposely used number "zillions" and "stuff like this" to lump the civil damages that the County of Los Angeles pays out for all of its lawsuits, not specifically suits which involve a person being held for more violating the 72-hour rule. My hyperbolic statement includes all of the settlements the county makes for things like wrongful death suits, discrimination, and the other settlements that appear in articles the time in the Los Angeles Time. I apologize if I was unclear.

If you're generally interested in what they're paying out in settlements for civil right issues, you can contact the LA County Claims Board.
posted by birdherder at 6:13 PM on February 6, 2012


Just one of the problems is that the people who run these facilities often or for the most part HATE their jobs and shit runs down hill.

I know two cops who are struggling to deal with and keep their jobs only because they are 4 to 6 years away from a pension/retirement. Even though they're close, they're still looking for other employment. They hate the system and what they have to do to earn a living.

For as much $ as the U.S. throws at law enforcement, because of state and local funding woes, average Joe cops are often sucking it as much as corporate folks...losing benefits, no pay increases, no promotions, downsizing etc.

For most, it's a dead-end job and they know it and feel it.
posted by snsranch at 6:18 PM on February 6, 2012


I have to chuckle at this. It's honestly one of the least bothersome of the Many Ways You Are About To Be Fucked By The System. Kind of a nice introduction, actually.
posted by Xoebe at 6:52 PM on February 6, 2012


If my parents went cell-only, well, there goes my only functional memorized landline number.

This happened to me about a year ago. The landline number that I knew from heart since before I can remember, the one all my friends knew, the line that anchored the house--POOF! Gone. Mom casually put it in an email "Oh, by the way we don't use a land line any more, your dad and I just have cell phones now". It's gone. I haven't even lived in that house for the past twenty years but it still makes me absurdly melancholy, somehow, thinking about that number that will forever be permanently burned into my brain--like my birth year or my SS number--is disconnected.

I don't know any other land lines, either.
posted by zardoz at 8:07 PM on February 6, 2012


Landlines I have memorized: two for people who are dead. One for someone on the other side of the country who has lived in the same place since the 1960s. And my own. None of these would be especially helpful if I needed to make bail.
posted by zippy at 12:01 AM on February 7, 2012


Oh, and PEnnsylvania 6-5000
posted by zippy at 12:22 AM on February 7, 2012


Maybe I'm being naive here, but couldn't he just have asked another inmate (article says he was around them) for the phone number of a bondsman?
posted by QIbHom at 7:50 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The three landlines I know by heart are my parents house, my childhood best friend's parents house, and my work #, and I'm a bit spotty on the last one. I'd really rather not call work if I get locked up, so I hope neither of the first two ever move, disconnect their phones, or die.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:16 AM on February 7, 2012


Huh. I did my first year law school moot problem on this exact issue (woman stuck in jail for 2 days because she couldn't call her son) back in 2010, acting as the government defending the situation.

The issue has been decided by a court at least once in Canada: back in 2004, in Alberta. In that case, the record showed that 13% of calls were blocked (possibly due to declining the charges by the recipient; there were issues beyond just the cell phone situation, but presumably that's true here). That is a lot, and that was 8 years ago.

And, to be clear, we don't even use bail bondspeople in the same way up here than in the States, which makes that issue less important.

I can't get into it too deeply right now, being super-busy, but I'd urge people to glance at that case - the liberty analysis (whether the change is a Constitutional violation, and whether it's justified) begins around paragraph 61.

In my head, at least, it's absolutely clear that it's a violation of rights and needs to be fixed immediately. At minimum by allowing bail bondsman lists, but probably even further.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:49 AM on February 7, 2012


This article is surprising. Shorter version: "getting arrested inconveniences people."

And $150,000 bond is not a low bond. I represent people on fairly serious violent crimes with much lower bonds. His "I just locked her in my apartment to help her kick her heroin habit" is not totally passing my smell test, and the circumstances were egregious enough for a magistrate to set a high bond.
posted by jayder at 9:09 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell: "So, really, what's the solution? It's not the job of the police to act like an ombudsman, and eventually, he probably spoke with a public defender before arraignment. You could allow collect calls to cell phones, but that's a nightmare discussion with telcos."

Considering how expensive it is to house an inmate unnecessarily for an extra day, here's a thought: why not just eat the cost of the phone call, or roll it into the bail if necessary?

This is not a complex problem. If they really are too brain dead to figure it out themselves, have them visit any local motel and ask them how they manage to keep track of how much each guest owes for their phone calls.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:13 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


rmhsinc: "Hey, he got credit for the time served--I have a hunch that he isolated himself from other prisoners or staff who might have been helpful--five days,there is something wrong with the system but also possible with him."

Based on all the movies I've seen, if I ever went to jail I would keep myself about 10 frikken feet from anyone else there.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:18 AM on February 8, 2012


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