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New Redwood City Jail Plans Move Forward

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

For San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks Realignment might not be only a headache but a godsend. For the last five years, the sheriff has been pushing for a new jail to alleviate the overcrowding problems that–like other California jails–has plagued Maguire and Elmwood Correctional Facilities. Maguire is rated for 688 beds but for the last decade has operated with an average population of more than 1000 inmates. In spite of having purchased the land for the new jail, plans have been stalled. Realignment seems to be a game changer.

Just a few days ago county supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of moving ahead with one of the jail plans proposed by the sheriff. One of three options before the board, each with different costs and amenities, the plan approved was Option B. The original plan for a 768 bed facility was modified to have between 488 and ...

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Bay Area Correctional Facilities Brace for Realignment

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

The recent Supreme Court ruling we covered earlier this year is already having swift impact on local Bay Area jails as they brace for the beginning of the new criminal justice realignment. Enacted via the Budget Act of 2011, Realignment is intended to make changes to California’s correctional system which, according to Governor Jerry Brown, will “stop the costly, ineffective and unsafe ‘revolving door’ of lower-level offenders and parole violators through our state prisons.” It is the cornerstone of California’s solution for reducing the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons by May 24, 2013, as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

October 1 marks the first day of the new measures. Starting in just a few days, non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual offenses, generally low-level crimes, will serve their sentence at the local rather than state level. Local governments have been racing to ready themselves ...

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Arrest of Bail Bondsman in Stanislauss County Sends Clear Message

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

Getting released from jail feels good. You’re out walking around and free. You might worry about fighting your charges, dealing with family or work, but the bail bondsman? The last thing you need or expect is to be ripped from a street corner by your bail agent, especially not to be shaken down for more money. This is the nightmare that several Stanislaus County residents allegedly went though. Last Friday Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced that bail agent Aleo J. (A.J.) Pontillo, owner of AJ’s Bail Bonds, and bail agent and office manager Janelle M. Llorens, were arrested for kidnapping clients for the purpose of extortion and insurance fraud. Bail was set at $2,000,000 and $1,000,000, respectively.

“The arrests of these unscrupulous licensed bail agents should send a very clear message,” said Commissioner Dave Jones. “The severity of their alleged crimes will simply ...

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Are Inmate Visitation Fees Next for California?

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

As California struggles with the budget, some in corrections wonder if a new move by Arizona lawmakers won’t hold some appeal here. Arizona is one of the many states struggling with mounting costs for housing inmates. Like California, overcrowding and failing services for inmates have left lawmakers desperate to find solutions to the budgetary crisis.

In order to bolster its income, Arizona became the first state to charge a fee to any adult wishing to visit an inmate. As of July 1, any adult over the age of 18 who wants to visit a prisoner not only needs to complete and submit an application to do so, but must also pay a $25 fee to do so.

The corrections website encourages applicants to use Western Union to pay the fee, which can add as much as $6 to the transaction. Families of inmates have already started protesting the new ...

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San Jose Council Wants Some Space

by Linda on October 21, 2011 2 Comments

Bail Bonds Agencies in San Jose are getting the could shoulder from San Jose’s city council. Complaints from residents in San Jose neighborhoods near jails such as Vendome, Hyde Park and Rosemary Gardens, sparked a proposal to place regulations on where bail bonds agencies can set up shop. Residents worry that the overcrowding of bail agencies in a small area not only makes the neighborhood look bad, but might take away space from other community businesses like restaurants, salons and other establishments.

Councilman Sam Liccardo, representing the district around the San Jose main jail, along with other three other council members spearheaded the proposed limits. The recommendation was to restrict bail agencies from being located within 300 feet of each other, schools, parks or homes. A ban on ground-floor bail offices in the area was also proposed.

Residents have complained that the proliferation of bail agencies in the area ...

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Getting Caught with Illegal Fireworks Can Dim Your 4th

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

Around the Bay Area, people will pack a picnic blanket, a patriotic spirit and head to see fireworks displays. Some people also want to celebrate by setting off fireworks at home. Here are a few things you should know before you get popping.

In the good ol’ days, early summer meant fireworks stands on every corner just about. These days you only see stands in cities like Gilroy in Santa Clara County, Newark, Union City and Dublin. While cities like these have more permissive laws in place, most of California bans the private sale and use of fireworks. Under California Health & Safety Code section 12677, it is “unlawful for any person to possess dangerous fireworks without holding a valid permit.” Only those specifically permitted to do so can sell or keep certain types of fireworks.

Although it sounds simple enough, there are at least 20 sections of California law that ...

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Bailing Water: Third Year of BUI Crackdowns

by Linda on October 21, 2011 1 Comment

As the July 4th weekend approaches, many Californians will take to the water to celebrate. But what a number of people don’t realize is that boating under the influence (BUI) is a crime similar to DUI. Like a DUI, a BUI conviction can carry hefty penalties and leave you needing bail.

This weekend marked the third year in a row that law enforcement agencies are conducting Operation Dry Water . Launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Boating and Waterways, Operation Dry Water means increased presence on the water from local law enforcement in areas like Contra Costa County, Marin, Alameda, and San Francisco. This weekend-long crackdown on drunk boating is an effort to prepare boaters for a safe holiday, a time when the combination of boats and partying means more ...

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How Is the Bail Amount Decided?

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

If we were going off an episode of Law and Order, bail would some arbitrary number a grumpy, overworked judge comes up with. Of course, on television, that number largely depends on the mood of the judge, and how clever (or annoying) each of the attorneys is and perhaps what everyone is wearing. So how close to reality is this? Is bail just decided on a whim? How does the judge decide what bail to impose?

Thankfully, in states like California, the amount of bail depends on a little more than whether or not the judge has indigestion. In fact, the starting point for most bail amounts is predetermined by something called a Bail Schedule. These guidelines are reviewed each year by a panel of judges and set the exact recommended amount for most offenses.

In spite of the schedule, bail is still up to the judge to determine. Police ...

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Bail Bonds Scammer May Have Thousands of Victims

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

Last week we talked about ways to make sure you are hiring a good bail bond agent. There are plenty of rotten apples out there, but the latest case of a bail bond scam is scary stuff indeed.

According to news reports, a Sacramento man named Michael Moynihan was recently arrested for an elaborate bail scam. He allegedly would impersonate a police officer to get information from about recently released inmates. He’s accused of then calling the victim, pretending to be a bail bondsman, telling them to pay more money or risk going back to jail.

Police think he had contacted people in more than 42 states and may have more than a thousand victims. The story is still unfolding as police attempt to sift through the evidence. All we know is that it’s always a good idea to know exactly who you are dealing with. Find an ...

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Bay Area Jails May be Able to Opt Out of Federal Immigration Enforcement Program

by Linda on October 21, 2011 0 Comments

The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program called “Secure Communities” has been getting support from a number of sheriff departments, including Alameda Sheriff Greg Ahern, but not all legislators are as supportive. Secure Communities adds additional federal screening to local inmates. According to the Immigrations and Customs website:

“Through the Secure Communities strategy…the fingerprints of everyone arrested and booked are not only checked against FBI criminal history records, but they are also checked against DHS immigration records. If fingerprints match DHS records, ICE determines if immigration enforcement action is required, considering the immigration status of the alien, the severity of the crime and the alien’s criminal history.”

According to available ICE statistics, between May of 2009 and January of this year more than 65,000 illegal immigrants have been arrested or booked by ICE. Of those only 21,000 were criminals who were then deported.

The Secure Communities ...

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