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Saturday, August 18, 2012

A ridiculous system part 2

Dave was handcuffed in plea court (where he should have never been in the first place) and isolated. I tried to say something to him from 10 or 12 feet away and from behind a railing but two guards aggressively started towards me like I had just started screaming "I'm going to break you out, Dave!". I put my hands up and backed away. One of the guards was nice enough to come over to me afterwards. He let me know they were taking Dave to the local jail some miles out of town. From there the other county would come get him and he would be taken to jail in the heart of the city.

It turns out doing exactly what he was told to by the "Employment Specialist" wasn't sufficient. Dave was arrested and handcuffed at plea court because a bench warrant had been issued. It was issued when he didn't attend the hearing he was told he only had to attend if he hadn't found a job by then. Really? It's Friday. I know enough about this to know they will keep him over the weekend and there isn't a blasted thing I can do about it. After the last fiasco in December, when he was arrested originally, he memorized his sister's phone number. She is the only one in the family with a landline that could accept collect calls. At least this way we know he can contact family. Or so we thought...

Dave called his sister on Sunday. She said they spoke about 20 seconds and a recorded voice cut in and said "if you wish to receive calls from this person you must set up an account". Then the phone went dead. She called the number they gave her and was informed to set up an account required a minimum of $25. She was told they allowed a 20 second courtesy call but no more than that. I was quite sure Dave would be out on Monday. It didn't seem sensible to waste money setting up a $25 account for only one or two phone calls. What she wasn't told was it was a one-time per phone number 20 second courtesy! We would find this out the next day.

It's Monday morning. I'm not sure what to do. I know better than to try to call anybody in the city court system. It's never possible to get a human on the phone. I drove the hour into the city and had to park four blocks away from the courthouse. By the time I waited in line, emptied my pockets, and got through the metal detector just to get to the information receptionist it was after 9am. I was informed Dave had already seen the judge and would be released later that day. The receptionist advised me to go to the jail to get a time window on when he would be released. On to the jail!

I got lucky and found a parking space 100 yards away. When I walked up to the entrance I noted a big sign on the damaged glass of the door. The sign said no coats, cell phones, or other personal items were permitted inside the jail. I went back to the truck, emptied my pockets, took off my jacket, put my cell phone in my purse and went back again. At least now I can get inside the door. More signs inside the lobby let me know I need to know Dave's prisoner ID number and his location inside the jail to sign in. Yep, guilty until proven innocent is rearing its ugly head once more.

I can already see this is not going to get me anywhere. I opened the inner door where the guard sat by the metal detector. I spoke to him and explained what I was attempting to find out. He said "this area is only for visitation. I can't access any information." I'm sure disappointment was written all over my face. He offered up a phone number to call to see if they could help me. Once back outside I called the number and the not-so-nice voice on the phone said "go home and wait for a phone call". The line went instantly dead.

I'm an hour away from home. I don't want to go home and have to drive back. My options are really limited though. If I just hang out in the city it will just take more money for parking. If I'm down here all day I'll have to get something to eat at some point. I decided to go to Dave's sister's house & wait there. Her number should be the one Dave calls anyway and her house was about 20 minutes closer to the city. Now, to play the waiting game some more.

The hours pass by slowly. His sister has to leave for work and still no phone call. I waited some more. Its now nearly 4pm. I've been at this for more than 8 hours. I still don't have my son or have a clue when I will see him. I decided I was going to drive back into the city. If I must I'll just stand outside the jail until he comes out! At least I will be close by. When he does call it will take me at least 45 minutes to get there. Maybe longer than that at this hour. Just as I have decided I can't stay put any longer I got a call from a friend of Dave's. She said he tried to call her cell phone but she couldn't accept it. That settled it, I'm heading back to the city.

When I got to the jail Dave was already outside waiting. On the drive home I get the rest of the story about the phone calls. He tried to call his sister's number and wasn't permitted to because he had already used up his 20 second courtesy call to that number! He just started calling any other number he knew off by heart. Dave said he heard in the jail prisoners were never released until late in the day. This way the jail was able to charge an additional day for housing the prisoner!

What kind of ridiculous system is this? You are taken away from your family and locked up when you are suspected of a crime. You follow the instruction you are given and you are arrested anyway. You aren't permitted to make even collect phone calls! The only information your family can get is from officials, the majority of which are rude & uncaring. You are kept in jail for nine hours after a judge states you can be released just so the jail can charge an extra day for housing you?

If a person is truly innocent until proven guilty why are people treated like they are lower forms of life? Why are you stripped of your rights as if you were already convicted? Is the only way you can access information or even make contact with your loved one in jail is by hiring an attorney? The cost of justice is just too steep for the average person.


  1. Wow. I sort of can hardly BELIEVE this. I agree with you at the end 'What kind of ridiculous system is this?'

    This to me is highly distressing because (sorry I don't know the full story) but it seems to have something to do with not attending a court date because he was told he didn't need to unless he had a job to report - had found a job. What IS this?? Isn't getting employment a personal issue - you look for it, find it, without attracting the law?

    This is enormously distressing to me because my son is 16 1/2 and if we had such a system (I'm in Australia) - just all the distress & anxiety it causes - and not contacting family but for 20 seconds and they have to set up a $25 account? FK THEM! I'd want to scream. Oh, my gosh, I sincerely hope he comes out and DOES NOT let the experience down his self esteem. Tell Dave, for what it matters (as I don't know him) that I wish him well. FFS, can't believe this.

    Take care, you all, your family.

  2. Thank you, Noel, and thanks for stopping by. I will pass on your good wishes to Dave. Moral support does count for a lot! The employment problem was related to a court order for child support. That is the reason why it was treated so aggressively. It was nevertheless senseless since Dave did do exactly what he was told to do. We are under so much stress as it is. We certainly didn't more added to our plate!

  3. A tough lesson from the trenches...the only person who can tell you you do not have to be in court is a judge. Sad, but true. This is a large example of ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    Fortunately (if there can be an upside to this), the major loss was time and gasoline.

    Glad he is home.

  4. Thanks, Red, I was/am glad he's home, too! The "Employment Specialist" & the Domestic Relations hearing officer were the only ones ever involved to our knowledge. There was no reason for either of us to think any of this needed investigated further. Dave was told at the next hearing the problem lied in "verification & confirmation" of the info he left.