White County bail bondsman question humanity of jail's release policy
A bail bondsman in White County said the county's detention center's release policy is not humane and need to be fixed. The sheriff's office says its policies are working just fine.
Carmen Moore, with Buddy York Bail Bonds, works out of an office across the street from the White County Detention Center, and said she is worried about the detention center's procedure of releasing people.
"People are getting released in the middle of the night. After midnight, around 2 a.m. in the morning, without a phone call to be able to contact their family members," Moore said. "The other night, a man was released without any shoes on. Without a jacket on. It was like 28 - 30 degrees. It just so happened I was at my office at 2:30 - 3 a.m. in the morning," Moore said.
The White County Sheriff's Office told Channel 7 News that unless someone makes bond, or a judge calls for their release, the detention center releases them at the same time they were arrested. Inmates can make collect calls or send letters or "Smart Jail Mail," which is like an email, if they have enough credits.
Moore told Channel 7 News her Facebook post stirred up a conversation that she's had with the sheriff's office before.
"I had a really good meeting with him about a month and a half ago. I did address several issues. A lot of them have been taken care of. This is one that I don't know has just fell through the cracks right now or he is working on it. It is winter time! It is very important," Moore said. "I understand people have done some crimes [and] it is not supposed to be a hotel. They are also living, breathing human beings. Dignity you know?"
The sheriff's office told Channel 7 News that a person is released because they posted bond, the judge ordered a release or they completed time on a commitment. According to the sheriff's office, if they hold a person past the allotted time, that could be considered holding the person illegally. WCSO told Channel 7 News they will allow a person who has been released to wait in the lobby.
The issue lit a fire under Moore, which is resulting in business changes.
"That's where I slept last night. I've got blankets. That is just where I slept. I brought some stuff to make soup. I bought a crock pot. I don't know how long these people are going to have to wait until they get a ride home," said Moore.
Moore says people have volunteered to donate coats and shoes to be given to those without one.
"I am serious about it. I can't let people stand out in the cold," Moore said.
Channel 7 News made contact with eight different jails to see what their protocol is. Two counties said if the 24 hours is up, they have to release them no matter the time. Four counties said they wait until business hours. Two counties had yet to get back to Channel 7.