Talking to People as They Get Released from OC Jail at Midnight

By Gustavo Arellano
OC Weekly

Santa Ana Bail Bond Store News

At 12:05 every morning, Santa Ana Central Jail releases its first inmates of the day from the Intake and Release Center out to the gates that open up to W. Sixth Street, to free bed space for incoming prisoners.
“As soon as midnight hits we can kick them out the door,” Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Jeffrey Hallock said. “We can release them.”

Reasonable enough, right? But let’s all agree midnight isn’t exactly the best time for someone to leave jail. So the Weekly visited on two consecutive nights to interview folks who were just leaving jail and get their thoughts on their new-found freedom

The first person we interviewed was a woman who requested anonymity. She seemed startled when approached by the Weekly, but after identifying ourselves, she loosened her arms from a tight fold and agreed to speak.

Although she denies it herself, the inmate was detained for domestic violence. For two days, she wondered about the state of her children.

“What was really hard was not knowing what the hell’s going on,” the woman said. To comfort herself and try to make the two days go by quickly, she slept the majority of the time in her cell.

There are three things you can do for free in jail, she said: sleep, watch television or read. She also had the choice to call a relative or friend, but they’re collect calls. To avoid any extra costs, the female inmate decided to wait upon release to hear about her family.

After her sentence was served, the guards informed her at about 8:30 p.m. that it was time to leave. At that time, deputies are up and running, counting every head and making sure the person whose name is on the paperwork from court, is indeed the correct person.

The time it took from the call of freedom to the time she walked out of the gates of jail: three hours.

“We waited too long to get our clothes, we waited too long for everything,” the inmate said.

Upon getting released, she said that most people want to contact someone to pick them up at that ungodly hour. Luckily, her phone hadn’t died from the time she was detained, so she was able to call someone. But she still understands the hardship that inmates who don’t have a cell phone (at least one that isn’t out of battery) go through after being released.

“[A charged cell phone] is our life line,” the former inmate said. “I didn’t know any number but my parent’s number–that is it. I didn’t know my kid’s number–nothing.” She held up her phone as if she was holding Wonka’s Golden Ticket in her hand.

After answering a few questions, she walked away, determined to fight in court and get full custody of her kids. Just because she was in jail, doesn’t mean she isn’t sane, she said.

It’s 1:25 a.m. Abel Betancourt is released. As I drank my hot coffee, he approached to ask if I had a phone he could use to call his mom to pick him up. After speaking to his mom, they agreed he’d walk a block down to meet her after she was done fully waking up.

Age 19, Betancourt was detained for burglary. After serving about a week, he was done with his jail time. His release, though, was a surprise for himself and his mother.

“You go to court and they totally fuck you over,” Betancourt said. “They tell you your charges and that’s it. You have to wait for another hearing. They keep adding time and then you never really finish your time.”

His worry was whether or not his mother was going to answer his phone call. It’s late at night or so early in the morning when inmates get released, and people are usually, understandably sleeping at that time.

After not seeing anyone released out the jail gates for an hour, I call it a night.

At 12:05 every morning, Santa Ana Central Jail releases its first inmates of the day from the Intake and Release Center out to the gates that open up to W. Sixth Street, to free bed space for incoming prisoners.
“As soon as midnight hits we can kick them out the door,” Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Jeffrey Hallock said. “We can release them.”

Reasonable enough, right? But let’s all agree midnight isn’t exactly the best time for someone to leave jail. So the Weekly visited on two consecutive nights to interview folks who were just leaving jail and get their thoughts on their new-found freedom

The first person we interviewed was a woman who requested anonymity. She seemed startled when approached by the Weekly, but after identifying ourselves, she loosened her arms from a tight fold and agreed to speak.

Although she denies it herself, the inmate was detained for domestic violence. For two days, she wondered about the state of her children.

“What was really hard was not knowing what the hell’s going on,” the woman said. To comfort herself and try to make the two days go by quickly, she slept the majority of the time in her cell.

There are three things you can do for free in jail, she said: sleep, watch television or read. She also had the choice to call a relative or friend, but they’re collect calls. To avoid any extra costs, the female inmate decided to wait upon release to hear about her family.

After her sentence was served, the guards informed her at about 8:30 p.m. that it was time to leave. At that time, deputies are up and running, counting every head and making sure the person whose name is on the paperwork from court, is indeed the correct person.

The time it took from the call of freedom to the time she walked out of the gates of jail: three hours.

“We waited too long to get our clothes, we waited too long for everything,” the inmate said.

Upon getting released, she said that most people want to contact someone to pick them up at that ungodly hour. Luckily, her phone hadn’t died from the time she was detained, so she was able to call someone. But she still understands the hardship that inmates who don’t have a cell phone (at least one that isn’t out of battery) go through after being released.

“[A charged cell phone] is our life line,” the former inmate said. “I didn’t know any number but my parent’s number–that is it. I didn’t know my kid’s number–nothing.” She held up her phone as if she was holding Wonka’s Golden Ticket in her hand.

After answering a few questions, she walked away, determined to fight in court and get full custody of her kids. Just because she was in jail, doesn’t mean she isn’t sane, she said.

It’s 1:25 a.m. Abel Betancourt is released. As I drank my hot coffee, he approached to ask if I had a phone he could use to call his mom to pick him up. After speaking to his mom, they agreed he’d walk a block down to meet her after she was done fully waking up.

Age 19, Betancourt was detained for burglary. After serving about a week, he was done with his jail time. His release, though, was a surprise for himself and his mother.

“You go to court and they totally fuck you over,” Betancourt said. “They tell you your charges and that’s it. You have to wait for another hearing. They keep adding time and then you never really finish your time.”

His worry was whether or not his mother was going to answer his phone call. It’s late at night or so early in the morning when inmates get released, and people are usually, understandably sleeping at that time.

After not seeing anyone released out the jail gates for an hour, I call it a night.

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We are open to communication at any time of day every day-even on holidays. At Santa Ana Bail Bond Store, your freedom is important to us. If you have any questions, concerns or doubts about Santa Ana bail bonds or the bail bond process, do not hesitate to call. We are happy to answer your questions patiently.

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State approves $80 million for Musick jail expansion

Irvine City Council opposes construction of the proposed 384-bed facility and has 2 lawsuits pending against the county.

Musik Jail Expansion - Santa Ana Bail Bond Store

Bringing the James A. Musick jail in Irvine closer to a major expansion, a state board on Thursday awarded Orange County an $80 million construction grant.

The proposed 384-bed facility would focus on rehabilitation, with classrooms and therapy rooms in addition to minimum- and medium-security dorms.

While officials say the model is good for society, it hasn’t swayed opponents who have been fighting expansion plans since 1998. The Irvine City Council opposes construction, and has two lawsuits pending against the county. Near Musick, developers are building million-dollar homes, heightening tension.

“It’s good for Orange County overall,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who represents that area, said of the award, “but there’s still concern from the residents.”

The Board of State and Community Corrections approved the county’s grant, part of $500 million for similar projects throughout the state. Orange County received the maximum allocation. Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties also each received $80 million. The funds, from Senate Bill 1022, are designed for rehabilitative facilities. Inmates at Musick would participate in therapy and work with probation and social services on a strategy for re-entering society.

“It’s going to provide us an opportunity to introduce new programs into the jail that will help reduce recidivism,” sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said.

Irvine filed a lawsuit Jan. 8 requesting an injunction against construction. This and another pending lawsuit challenge the county’s environmental impact report. In October, Irvine lost a legal fight against a separate 512-bed expansion, which is planned to begin construction in 2016. Today, Musick has 1,322 beds.
Irvine council members expressed frustration Thursday, and the mayor appeared open to discussions with county officials.

“We would like to have a chance face-to-face to discuss our concerns and then come up with some way they can mitigate our concerns,” Irvine Mayor Steven Choi said.
Spitzer said he, too, wants to negotiate.

“I’m reaching out to the Irvine City Council to see if there’s any interest in a cap, or (a restriction on) the type of inmate,” Spitzer said. “But I’m worried that we’re going into an election season, and council members will make this an election issue.”

Some counties are planning to appeal Thursday’s awards, and that could affect the distribution to other counties. The Board of Supervisors is expected to accept the grant in July, and construction is targeted for summer 2017.

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Jury Begins Kelly Thomas Deliberations; DA Calls Police Violence “Unconscionable”

By R. Scott Moxley (OCWeekly)

Santa Ana Legal News & Articles

Orange County’s suburban juries are often dominated by unswerving, pro-cop biases, so District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had to be careful today when he asked a panel of eight women and four men to use “common sense” and hold two Fullerton police officers criminally liable for the 2011 beating death of Kelly Thomas.
“We have great law enforcement in Orange County,” Rackauckas said in his closing argument before the jury began deliberations around lunchtime. “This case was put together by good police officers. So this is not an indictment of the Fullerton Police Department or police departments [in the county].”

This case is only about the “unconscionable” treatment of Thomas by charged officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, the conservative Republican DA explained.

In July 2011, a group of cops savagely beat Thomas while pondering whether to arrest him for possession of stolen property after the 37-year-old, unarmed, homeless and schizophrenic man took several pieces of valueless, discarded mail from a trash can at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

An obnoxious Ramos initiated contact with the suspect, sassed him, antagonized him, and then, in a move the county’s top prosecutor calls criminal, declared his fists were going to “fuck you up.”

Rackauckas told jurors that “only a defense lawyer could make up” Barnett’s rationale that nobody would consider the officer’s statement as a looming threat of excessive force.

Thomas’ battered, bloody body didn’t look human when the cops finished punching, kicking, stomping, kneeing and firing Taser darts at him.

John Barnett and Michael Schwartz, defense lawyers for Ramos and Cicinelli, respectively, insist that Rackauckas and four doctors–all of whom independently testified the cause of Thomas’ death was the severe police beating that denied him critical oxygen–are engaged in an undefined conspiracy to frame their clients.
Rackauckas told jurors that if there was any conspiracy it was among Fullerton cops Stephen Rubio and Kevin Craig, who shamelessly testified for the defense that they couldn’t see any misguided police conduct during the relentless, seven-minute beating–never mind that the department fired Ramos and Cicinelli in the wake of the killing.

Adding to the craziness, both veteran lawyers adopted angry poses and asserted there is “no evidence” tying the beating to the death that followed.

Rackauckas labeled the defense’s trial strategy that espoused seven excuses designed to shield the now-fired cops from accountability as “straw man” arguments and “nonsense.”

For example, Barnett and Schwartz asserted the fully armed cops needed to pummel the 160-pound Thomas because they feared his supernatural strength and the officers should not be expected to pay attention to the victim’s repeated complaints about a dwindling supply of oxygen.

Schwartz portrayed Thomas–who never swung a single punch—as giving the group of cops “the fight of their lives,” but the officers emerged with only tiny, boo-boo scratches.
Apparently willing to simultaneously assert contradictory accounts, Cicinelli’s lawyer also described Thomas’ fight stance during the attack as “rigid and locked and trying not to move.”

And all the horrifically gruesome wounds to Thomas?

Schwartz boldly told the jury those injuries could have been caused not by the cops, but “from just rolling around in the street.”

Though his client bragged to fellow cops after the beating that he’d “smashed” Thomas’ face “to hell,” Schwartz provided a dismissive view of the wounds.

“Yeah, [Thomas] got some bruises,” he argued. “Yeah, he’s got some cuts.”

Said Rackauckas, “Some of the things the defense said were pretty ridiculous.”
Jurors are now in their first few hours of deliberations inside Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg’s 10th-floor Santa Ana courtroom.

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Fake Cops and Utility Reps in Irvine, Anaheim and Santa Ana Have Something in Common

By Matt Coker (OC Weekly)

Irvine Police detectives are dealing with an unusual case: a kidnapping where two men impersonated police officers and threatened a local resident with arrest if he did not pay back taxes via a Green Dot MoneyPak cash card.
Meanwhile, Anaheim Police are dealing with scammers posing as Public Utilities representatives also seeking Green Dot MoneyPak payments.

Over in Santa Ana, cops are looking at fake Southern California Edison reps seeking payment by … aw, hell, do we have to spell it out for you, people?

Now, real Irvine cops are looking not only for the phony baloneys but witnesses and other victims of similar crimes.

This all began there around 8 a.m. Thursday, according to Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen, the department spokeswoman. That’s when the fellow received a phone call from someone saying that he owed the U.S. Attorney General’s office money in back taxes. He was instructed to go to a local store to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPack cash card in the amount of the back taxes owed.

But the fellow refused, prompting the caller to threaten him with arrest by a law enforcement agency. Sure enough, a black Ford Crown Victoria with tinted windows pulled up to the man’s Irvine residence a short time later, Engen said.

Two men got out of the Crown Vic and approached the man, who was by now standing in front of his residence. After identifying themselves as law enforcement officials, they placed the man in the back of their “unit” and threatened him with arrest. He was only released when he agreed to go purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak, according to Engen.

Both fake cops were described as Middle Eastern. One was 45 to 50, 6-foot-2, with a medium build, black curly hair, a mustache and a dark complexion. He was wearing a black suit, white shirt and a black tie. The second was about 50, 5-foot-10 with a medium build, short brown hair with some gray and wearing a black suit, white shirt and a black tie.

The reservoir dogs’ vehicle was a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria, black, with no exterior light bar, tinted windows and an interior safety cage.

Irvine Police detectives are looking for additional witnesses to this crime or anyone who believes they were stung by these guys also. Call Detective John Sanders at 949.724.7244 or email him at jsanders@cityofirvine.org.

In Anaheim, public utilities customers have been getting calls from scammers impersonating city employees requesting over-the-phone payments via Green Dot MoneyPak cards purchased at local stores.

Using “spoofing software” that falsely displays Anaheim Public Utilities’ name and phone number on caller ID systems, the impersonators ask customers for money cards in a specific dollar amount and then ask them to dictate into the phone the MoneyPak number.

The scam has prompted the city to inform residents it does not solicit payments by MoneyPak numbers.

“As a reminder, Anaheim Public Utilities representatives will never make unsolicited calls to customers to collect utility payments, nor will staff visit residents to solicit payment,” reads the alert. “Customers can pay their utility bills by any of the following methods:

  • By mail to Anaheim Public Utilities, P.O. Box 3222, Anaheim, CA 92803-3222
  • In-person at Anaheim West Tower, 201 S. Anaheim Blvd., First Floor, Anaheim
  • Through the authorized and automated phone system, by calling 714-765-3300
  • Securely online at www.anaheim.net/utilities

“To verify if a call or visitor to your home is that of a City of Anaheim employee, or if you suspect fraud, please call 714-765-3300.”

Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, that department’s spokesman, says scammers phone Edison customers to say their accounts are delinquent, threatening to cut their electrical service unless payments are immediately made with Green Dot Moneypak cards.

Business owners have been swindled out of more than $2,600 and at least six Santa Ana residents have been contacted by the scammers in the past couple months, according to Bertagna.

Working with SoCal Edison, Santa Ana cops have so far determined the calls seem to be originating on the East Coast, according to Bertagna, who adds investigators suspect the same baddies stole more than $30,000 from Santa Ana businesses last March.

Santa Ana residents and merchants are being warned against giving out personal information over the phone. Anyone who believes they are a victim of these scammers is instructed to call 1.855.TIPOCCS.

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