By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Where was Stephen Petrick? That was the question among his friends in mid-November after the 67-year-old retiree suddenly disappeared.
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.
Not one of Petrick's friends had an inkling that Petrick was stuck inside the Los Angeles County jail system — for five long nights — unable to contact them or a bondsman because of the phone setup inmates are forced to use.
"You supposedly have the right to bail," Petrick says, "but it was effectively denied by the way the phone system works. It should be criminal."
Petrick says he was arrested in Santa Monica, where he was fingerprinted and booked at the city jail. When he asked to make a phone call, officers told him he had to wait until he was transferred to the L.A. County jail later that day.
At the county jail, Petrick says, he told the deputies that he had high blood pressure and diabetes, so he was placed in a medical unit. He describes it as a large room with 20 to 30 inmates, a few narrow, stainless-steel benches and two or three telephones.
Immediately, Petrick says, he walked up to one of the old-fashioned-looking pay phones, a big black box with patches of chrome but absent a coin slot. Petrick lifted the receiver and placed it to his ear, listening to the automated voice tell him he'd be making a collect call and that it may be recorded or monitored.
Petrick reached out to dial a number. He paused.
Like many people, Petrick had come to rely on his cellphone. He wasn't as good as he used to be about memorizing phone numbers. Excitedly, he recalled one person's cell number and dialed it.
His elation, however, quickly turned to anxious frustration as the automated voice told Petrick that he could not place a collect call to a cellular phone. He could only call out to a land line. Trouble was, he hadn't memorized any land-line numbers.
Hell, he hardly even knew anyone with a land line anymore.
"I realized right away that I had a problem," Petrick says.
Next, Petrick says, he looked around for a phone book or a posted list of bond agencies so he could arrange to pay bail. 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.
Unfortunately, he says, he could not find a list of phone numbers for bail bondsmen. When he asked a deputy for help, Petrick says, the deputy was resolutely unhelpful, telling him, "That's your problem. If we gave you the number, that would be showing partiality."
After spending a few sleepless nights in the large room filled with other inmates, Petrick says, he was moved to a more permanent cell with access to a common room containing phones. Doubting they would be any different, Petrick tried once again to place a call. But the results were the same. No collect calls to cellphones. No phone list of bail bonds agencies.
Petrick says he was not able to arrange bail until after he had his first court appearance — four days after his arrest.
"There was no way in hell for me to call anyone or to get a bondsman's number," he says. "The phones in there effectively denied me the right to make bail, and I don't know if many people know about this."
Jeff Stanley, owner of Bad Boys Bail Bonds, one of the largest bond companies in California, with offices from San Jose to San Diego, says the phone situation at L.A. County jail is one of the worst in the state.
"The individuals in custody are held hostage to this phone system that they have to use to talk to an attorney or a bondsman — something they have the legal right to do," Stanley says. "I truly believe that it's a violation of their civil rights, because everyone has a right to bail, and this is interfering with that right."
Says Esther Lim, the jails monitor for the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the few people actually allowed inside the notoriously restricted facility, "I didn't see a listing of bail-bonds companies near any of the phones I've looked at. I have seen listings by the phones for your ambassador if you're not a U.S. national, but nothing for bail bonds. It's ridiculous."
"And we have no plans of doing it in the future," she says.
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.
Only one reason i can imagine for preventing Petrick from using the phone to get bailed out from Santa Monica PD lock-up.
Santa Monica jail wanted Petrick to remain in custody until they could check America's Most Wanted and verify Petrick's identity.
They were salivating at the thought they might be holding another Whitey Bulger and cashing in a $2,000,000 reward.
Yes, This Happened to Me Too. (5 nights in jail, monday holiday ect. freakin nitemare because I was arrested in shorts and a t-shirt and the temp in jail felt like 45 degrees) If there any Civil Rights Attorneys' who want to take this kind of case on (denial of civil rights) they'd have a lot of plaintiffs.Oh yeah and the guards have a TOTAL ATTITUDE, I dont think they should be your friends but for cryin out loud they were jerks!
it happened to me as well.the la jail is inhumane, we the people need to open this whole thing up.atrocities occur here. cops murder inmates. the phones are just the tip of the iceberg.
mу сlаssmаtе's stер-аunt mаkеs $74 аn hоur оn thе lарtор . Shе hаs bееn оut оf wоrк fоr 9 mоnths butlаstmоnth hеr inсоmе wаs $8524 јust wоrкing оn thе lарtор fоr а fеw hоurs . Rеаd mоrе оn this wеb sitе...С А S Н S Н А R Р . С О М
Several sleepless nights in a large room filled with other inmates and nobody can find you a phone number? Surely out of all those people somebody could come up with "hey my friends called this number" or "when I call my dad I'll ask him who he called".
sure, just walk up to your nearest gang member and ask him for co-operation, or maybe you can just learn the spanish language while your in there, Tienes tu telephone de abogado? right know it all? dont give us your Republican brand of common sense, it just doesnt work in jail.
Why would you brand this as Republican common sense? Its just plain common sense.
Your reply seems grounded in a distorted, isolated suburban elitist perception.
Petrick lives in Santa Monica, so why should he have any fear of approaching a Southsider to ask for help getting a bondsmans number? Petrick isn't from Norcal and has no gang affiliation so there should be no problem.
In fact, if the phone call results in the bondsman getting Petrick's business - the referal is worth a commission. The Southsiders are english speaking americans for the most part. But even the Paises speak at least some english and Petrick almost certainly knows at least a little spanish.
The comment below regarding defense attorneys sounds accurate. The justice system is a for profit enterprise. The defense attorney's will fight for your rights and your freedom always - except if it may interfere with closing a contract with a captive potential client. That would interfere with the defense attorneys primary right to deplete your life savings.
After his phone call experience in County Jail Petrick was probably stunned a second time when he got back home and found his mail box bulging with solicitations from defense attorneys.
Mÿ cô-wôrkër's stëp-môthër mäkës $35 ëvërÿ hôúr ôn thë intërnët. Shë häs bëën läid ôff fôr 5 mônths bút läst mônth hër chëck wäs $1727 júst wôrking ôn thë intërnët fôr ä fëw hôúrs. Rëäd môrë ôn this sitë.... LazyCash10.com
The only phone number you need for bail from any California jail: 888-BAIL-BOND (8+8+8=24 hour bail)
My cö-wörkër's stëp-sistër mâkës $37/höür ön thë lâptöp. Shë hâs bëën lâid öff för 9 mönths büt lâst mönth hër pâychëck wâs $2057 jüst wörking ön thë lâptöp för â fëw höürs. Rëâd mörë ön this wëb sitë.... LazyCash10.com
phone problem is result of all the lawyers successfully controlling the phone system to encourage inmates to call the lawyers first, before anyone else gets a chance to to take any of the inmates money. if the jail is overcrowded, this is certainly one of the reasons. the unions must have complete control of the jail and no incentive to reduce the jail population - none. its the lawyers stupid. occupy the lawyer industrial complex. ps - maybe the greedy bail insurers ought to pry open their grossly profitable wallet and spend the money to help its agents get the problem resolved.
The article (did you read it) said there were *no phone numbers*. I'm sure lawyers would love to have a list of numbers, and that he would have had no problem calling them either. As for the unions, I sincerely doubt that they have a contract that requires the county to violate the civil rights of prisoners. The 'greedy' bail insurers, if they were so greedy, would have had something in place like Orange County by now. You managed to blame everyone except the parties legally responsible: LA County and the LA County Sheriff's office, both of whom are ripe for a 42 USC 1983 class action.
OTOH, the defendant was pretty stupid to do an intervention like that without a signed and notarized agreement in place with the druggie *before* he kept her locked up.