Desperate to reduce crowding in jails and prisons, court systems all over the country are trying diversion – alternatives to putting offenders behind bars. On today’s Reveal, we peek behind the good intentions and uneven results.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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from the centre for investigative reporting in p r ex. This is reveal a mallet one day. Three years ago, Cootie Harper boarded a boastful of inmates hated to an open whom prison addiction to prescription drugs had gotten out of control and sit down in areas like fellow them sit right next to me said you know you look like a deputy Harper, it must be for cocaine. Now I understand- and I said I mean this is right out again under what another prison you know I'm right and set out on you are. I don't know who that is, that air travel solemnly right then, and there I was gonna- have a problem on top of the problem that put him on a bus full of inmates smartest people more attics, rock Pollux was under invited, thrive, Cheech, steel, keel. The reason to do what they need is one in two thousand and eight he was working as a small town shares deputy. He was the deputy harbour. His fellow bus made remembered. Then Cody crashed his pickup truck and landed in hospital with broken books. He said, prescription painkillers delivered his only relief when he returned to work. He kept popping the pills you know I would take ten perquisites at a time at work, actually foresaw what I was more messed up and the people that was. I was dealing with good. He remembers, leaning over the bodies of people who would overdosed and taking their drugs even stole from the shares evidence logger gun sites in there with enough narcotics to get around the city. Had he figured no one would miss them, but after one trip to the locker he did a bad job of covering his tracks. He was arrested and soon found himself on the way to prison. Outskirt death knew where I was gone. I was running people that, up with their around the same time, ok homo was trying to get handle on its problems with prison drugs state report, some of the countries highest rates of substance abuse and incarceration Oklahoma. Governor Mary, fairly touched on that last. You stated the state address. Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room of the homeless, drag possession census havoc, deterred substance, abuse and have failed our presence to overcapacity. She urged lawmakers to stop locking up so many people for drug related crimes and start referring them to treatment and rehabilitation. That's gonna help the judge recommended for Cody after multiple arrest on drug charges. Instead of another spell in prison, he was ordered to recovery centre called care. Christian alcoholics in attics in recovery reveals Amy Julie, Harris ensure Shanna Walter investigated care founders,
program say it's all about helping alcoholics in attics turns out it also, fit a major chicken company, love it out earlier aviators, founder and ceo of care. Janet Wilkerson shows Amy Julia and me around the programme. Sunny green campus. We walk the gravel path, pastor, rose, garden, flagpole and into a gleaming dormitory. Its lunchtime guys care is in a town called J way out in the country, almost out of Oklahoma in the northeast corner of the state. Almost two hundred, court ordered drug addicts, and alcoholics are here at any given time, Jim and says she wants these men to feel comfortable at care by verses and her daughters quilts decorate the walls she thinks her programme as a ministry to society's outcasts. I'm Mama JANET. I love to help them
on them, because nobody likes when officials love JANET's programme carries strict and faith based. It offers housing, meals, alcoholics, anonymous meetings and counselling, and, unlike most Rehab programmes. It does in charge its clients, any money That was one of them. Sensible reasons that care was cream it as it is, is said that way, more and more people that done him. The fans that attracted Aaron's. Neither to the programme he's left it now I meet him in his apartment about an hour north of Tulsa When errands parents first drove into the campus, he had been arrested for his fists DUI and he was a dick. The pain pills report by reach in my pocket and grab some more tabs and some carbon. Take my last handful pills and get it
work in the door and check myself here errand. Do you care would help him turn his life around the new fund? A real good, you're gonna go to work, you're gonna work hard. You can work hard for least forty hours for the the time you're forty hours a week for the rest. The year you're here every day, men from the programme work alongside paid employees at chicken processing plants right across the state line in Missouri and Arkansas Simmons Foods owns the factories. It's a privately held company that takes in close to a billion and a half dollars a year. Simmons makes chicken products for care, see Walmart and pet. Smart module goes to clean the room, but the killed the chickens in which our blood literally suing floor. Chicken hygiene stiffly. Other men hung live chickens on a noisy, speeding, conveyor belt like this. And this industrial video
in refrigerator rooms. Workers pulled out their gods sorted the parts and packaged them the owl, where's our long. The machinery and tools move fast and can cause injuries. Most Americans Don't want these jobs and care guys the worst of them. Here's what three other guy is told us the most awful familiar I may like our needs, for black three years, less nastiness placed a nasty No one's ready for that. Come in it is also because you hear me so you're back your knees year, your body a lot of the care guys loegria treatin, like you know, mother, the troublemakers more than Dickens hung over their heads if they were slow on the line or injured on the job. Simmons could fire them the county, drug courts, them to care could send them to prison. On top of that, the man in the programme. Work for Free Simmons pays
care in exchange for the Labour JANET Is that money, peace for the programme the workers get a wages. That's ridiculous man, that's not recovery. That's a slave came even under these conditions, Erin got clean care. He was one of the few who dead in twenty fourteen care reported. Only a quarter of the men completed the programme but many of the men who did say it saved their lives. Jana doesn't dwell on success or failure, but on the reason she started the programme to serve men like her brother who drink himself to death. Duck in the back of my mind, that he wanted help so bad, but he was an obstacle. That's where we are with so many of these men. Many is an obstacle. They dont have ten twenty thirty thousand dollars to spend four thirty or forty.
A programme that was are. The goal was to help man, but my brother That was in her only goal we just bird, that when JANET started care a decade ago, she was a human resources executive in the poultry industry and she moonlighted as a spokeswoman for Simmons Foods and other poultry companies after she had trouble filling the overnight shift at the chicken plants JANET pitched her boss is an idea. What is she created? A nonprofit the put attics to work. There was an easy cell. Simmons gets a cheap and captive labour force. The pace care a flat rate for each worker if one of the care guys gets injured on the job Simmons not responsible for them, plus the company can fire them for any reason at any time. Doesn't provide health care that different from the way Simmons treats its paid employees.
her office. I asked JANET and Jim level about that. He manages the care programme was here, starting in part to benefit No, absolutely not they partnered with us, because they want help the Alps again. The airy providing they were job is helping where such a small ports Second, I mean that there are big company we have a new. Now my new portion of their workforce warriors weakens slave care. Did America just slave. I know that Comparative Simmons Entire workforce, men are a very small, but they don't have to pay workers seizure and they don't have to pay for other benefits. Care is taken care of that right, so Arthur benefits to Simmons aside from their helping products, not pilots,
I'm sure there is we're like attempt agency and they higher three lots of temper agencies- and you know yeah, it's a benefit to them were providing workers, but I tell you. The benefit to the men is much larger than the benefit that citizens receive. There are big differences between the workers from care and most Americans, people who work forty hours a week get paid for it. So defendants at some other rehab that require them to work the care guys? Don't we? most Americans quit or get fired from their jobs. They don't Present time the way currency is it the men lose and the programme and company when work takes priority over everything. If its work, or cancelling or work or classes its work, you're gonna work there scratching each other's back. That's for sure. After graduating, from the programme, he worked as a door manager at care for a while, but he grew
cares. Tax filing show that in seven years, the programme brought in more than eleven Cares. Tax filing show that in seven years, the programme brought in more than eleven million dollars most from its contract with summits those filings also show care pays JANET about a hundred and twelve thousand dollars a year to run the programme at any. Given time. The programme houses a couple hundred men. Janet says that hardly enough to run a factory. Hundreds of paid employees also work at summons, but during certain shifts Aaron says the assembly line depends on care, guys you're talking about play that runs a quarter of a million processes. A quarter of a million chickens Adieu some of those shifts there were taken two or three fifteen passenger fans full of people. To the chicken plan here, you're Talkin forty guys
on a shift going to work out a plan. If care didn't go in, they'd have to shut the plant. Now the chicken company has repeatedly laid off paid workers as it brought on more and more laborers from care, Simmons even paid for care to build a new dorm sang it needed more workers from the programme. We called Simmons to ask about this spokesmen Danny up, says the company partners with the program to help attics nuts The other way around is Simmons relying on care to fill that labour shortage our goal is probably left about. You know a labour shortage and more about finding the right people for the right job, and it also you know believing in Canada, the mission of care and the impact of driving People like Justice, Simmons, relies on care, care, relies on the criminal justice system. Drug court supply
a huge number of the men who land in that programme. Here's how drug court works
to avoid prison defendants must enter a guilty plea. The judges require them to get regular drug tests, a ten narcotics or alcoholics anonymous meetings and hold down steady jobs. Judges also order defendants to complete addiction treatment and if they fail, they can end up behind bars in the Stevens County. Drug court sharing Kane tells the judge where he should send defendants for treatment. She's a big believer in care in part, because there aren't enough affordable treatment programmes we used to have bad too impatient places. It was totally treatment they cut. The funding may also door. Court does not have bans that are paid for people way. As long as nine months for the beds, the state does pay for. I care there's no long wait lest it cost the courts and defendants nothing. The programmes sends attics away from the people in places that supported their bad habits. That's why sharing uses care generally on us in people who care it's too bright ties with somebody in this county is to give them used to get not goin to job. So it's about making them grow up. There's just one problem, though a pretty big one. We.
found out. It may be against the law for drug courts like Sharon's descend, men to care for treatment. Drug courts are only to do that using facilities, the state, inspects and certifies those places,
besides. Mental health and drug treatment, overwork their medical and counting staffs, are fully trained care offer some services, but the programme has never been certified and most of its staff are not licensed because of that, when things go wrong, defendants have little recourse. Oklahoma requires its department of Mental Health and substance abuse services to monitor drug ports and rehab programmes throughout the state, but it can't do much of judges are breaking the law. All I can do is pull that drug courts. Funding Sharon doesn't seem to worry about that at times like eat all interact much from an apartment. Above all, however, as little as possible, I do I wanna. Do thou message me: I'm not saying that in a coffee way, Vegas! No, I'm not I'm goin to do drug work to have always done it. If they come in here and start mess with, the judge will shut your court down. At least twenty drug courts in Oklahoma. Send defendants to care state losses. Drug courts misuse certified treatment programmes. Some drug court judges have found a way around that they don't say they're sending people with addictions for treatment. They say they're sending people there to give them work, experience and stable housing. The churn says you should look at the results like Brandon Spurgeon. He was a defensive tackle on his Highschool football team. Before he went to work in the way of fields there he got addicted to Math Sharon thought care could help him.
no, it's not certified. Brandon Christianity in it It made him grow up a little bit too, which is good, did mate Brendan in person we did when we showed He wasn't doing so well. He just had surgery Diane, Brandon and care parted ways. A couple of years ago he know only towers over six feet tall, t shirt, reads: keep calm and date, a big guy he's sitting His parents living room slumped on a brow. corduroy, couch, chewing tobacco and grim thing in pain. His mom Renee suvs. If he's yes, here's how branding got this way? one night. He was working at the chicken plant when a metal door crashed down on his head almost three years later, slurring his words. He remembers how hard it knocked him out there is.
everywhere about ten minutes. So I could stand back up. Everything in the whole shirt was covered in blood. My pants had overalls on and they were so true.
After he got hurt. Doctors stapled up his head. Brandon says the accident damaged his spine. He suffered from dizziness and intense migraines, regular, nay. He went back to work before he did go back. Did you go back to chicken ranch you get back to the chicken farm? He did go back to work there before they swimming home. Brandon knew he needed more medical attention, but he says he was scared to leave, so he kept working. If he didn't, he could fail drug court and get sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He got sober and graduated from drug court, but lower Reprove Brandon says he'd rather go to prison, then go back to care today he's in constant pain and he can't hold down a full time job. At thirty five years old Brandon depends on his mom and dad. He has days that he just absolutely cannot work he's non functional at Times Renee. His mom does give thanks of randomness clean and his drug charges were dismissed, scare astray heart straight- maybe I'm not sure so, I'm not gonna, say good into work. Renee says care, never apologised to branded for his injuries. The programme pocketed his workers compensation and that of other guys who got hurt. Renee is trying to make peace with all that, and so, even though we say what we didn't get this and we didn't get fat
we have here,
sorry we have here, but they come at a price Brandons house and his independence. Their story from reveals Shanna, Walter and Amy Julia Hairs is something else they found out. Care might violate the: U S: Constitution, the thirteenth, a mammoth ban, slavery and involuntary servitude. It does allow the government to use convicts for forced labour, but many of the people in the care programme haven't you: ve been convicted of any crimes across the country. There are all kinds of programmes to let people avoid criminal convictions and promised to give them help. But what happens when those programmes don't fulfil those promises? I thought it was a really good step at first and then have a realisation that I can't pay that I'm not going anywhere in my life can screw that story next on reveal from the centre for investigating reporting to pr eggs.
from the cynical for investigative reporting in p ex. This is reveal a mallet we just heard local homer some diversion programmes, don't always help the people there supposed to serve journal. Lee Rami, has also been investigating diversion programmes for reveal she's been in one herself. I have dreaded traffic school traffic school after get a ticket. It's a class. You take on a Saturday afternoon to keep your car insurance rates from going up. There is even a comedy trap school. When structures are standard, comics try to take the edge off, that's how they get you in the door, but I went to one of those and it was like anti comedy. School was joke was on us, says horribly with their traffic schools the simple is form a diversion and has been around for decades, but now, It's an prosecutors are using diversion for a whole bunch of other types of crimes from drug position. trespassing, there's actually by partisan agreement that
We ve been clogging our prisons in jails and people keep returning and theirs gotta be a better way diversion also become a popular way to lighten case loads for prosecutors, judges and public defenders, because its channels, people out of the system before the convicted or some times even charged. For example, if you give us a for drugs, You might go into rehab if you get into a fight You might go to anger management classes, fish. The programme, no conviction on your record, but just like that, the companies have moved into running bail bonds prisons and even probation now they're, getting it the diversion gained a lot of profit Peters love it. It's pretty simple its appealing to prosecute because they pay nothing for profit. Diversion programmes are a hundred percent offender funded. That's it deal they can get even sweeter, some company, like corrected solutions in Orange County California pay, the price security office. A cut for each
fender who in rules fifty bucks a pop, so they say MR able to come in and say we're not gonna charge you and actually we're gonna. Give you money, we're gonna, give you a kick back. Some people call it that the company calls it an administrative fee or sometimes they call it return of prosecutor costs, but basically They're making money from offenders So while prosecutors are getting kickbacks, the people who can did the crime have to pay for these programmes. If they can't pay, they could end up the criminal charge on the record of the poor. I'm cars from three hundred and fifty dollars to more than eight hundred dollars solutions tells prosecutors they'll offer breaks to people who can afford it through a so called indigent. Fun sounds good, but These programmes are paid for by charging other offenders more and the company, the private company, that
how to get the help. It's a totally moving goalposts. It's not even really clear at all how you qualify and I talked to lots of people who said they weren't even told there was an indigent fund. That's what happened to twenty three year old, Austin Greenwood from Sonoma County in the wine country north of San Francisco. I needed some sort of program for my recovery and thought it was a really good step at first and then the realisation that, if I can't pay than I'm not going anywhere in my life and that means can a screwed at the time. He was literally living under a bridge Austin. addicted to meth when he was charged with possession of a myth pipe on top of all that had untreated bipolar disorder. all this to his corrective solutions case manager shares anything about any grand sure any way to help pay or she said a price and said rang this. when you come in the California law. The programme for
first time drug offences that Austin was in has to for financial breaks to people who can't pay we got data from the prosecutor's office that showed the company clearly wasn't doing that all this year, the amount and gave out wouldn't have even cover the cost of putting to people from the programme to find out what was going on leave visited Thomas Johnson, the chief operating certain general council for corrective solutions. I am highly he's this. See you family run operation. He did acknowledge that participants in the drug diversion programme are often homeless and he said company knows the indigent fun, isn't really working like it should Thomas's his companies casting a new appeals process for people who been denied assistance. I ask them to share the details on that, but he wouldn't a lot of stuff is he could sauce and on how the programme works. If we share all of the operational secrets of trade.
reason we're gonna, have our competitors picking up and in the exact same thing, secret, sauce, really I mean it gets a public programme should be public sauce ray earlier, we should all modes in the source of the people. Is heating. It right right, diversion isn't just keeping offenders records clean it supposed to just a reason. The person ended up getting in trouble in the first place by treating things, substance, abuse or mental illness, correctest solutions pledges to hook, people up with whole bunch of services. Drug admit health treatment, food pantries, shelters even educational services. I talk to people in three different states, said they needed help and they were offered any Aaron Robin It was one of them.
We met him when he was twenty four years old living with his dad and brother Emperor, now County Arizona between Phoenix and to say it was a house on the outskirts of Cassock Grand surrounded by off after fields super whether Branch house, with cow skulls all over the property errand, had ended up corrective solutions because of a possess in charge. Bigger problems to hear on addiction. He explained to us corrected solutions. Counselor, counselor is not a trained or licence counselor in this case, Counselor was a collective solutions, employee who is a former cop he didn't offer much too Aaron. At all events, council was most concerned with checking in to find out where they paid his money taken his drugs and attended his classes House prevention, my own through the entire situation. They didn't offer any counselling. They do not offer for me to tender rehab about a month. It Erin overdosed in in a psychiatric hospital. His fate
we arrange for him to go to a treatment centres Tucson he left directive. Solutions know what was going on high rehab have hospitalization on my on no one I did initiated. They took that as a failing to comply with the programme because he, MR check in He they fail them from the programme. when you gotta rehab prosecutors, charged him with a felony that old man what a possession charge he lived. the job, but he lost it assumes the employer did a background check. The canning prosecutor offered the correct the solutions diversion programme again and he took it. the second time I went through there was now tests in place. There was nothing like that. I mean it's almost like their given me a free pass through the programme to take my money, that's what it feels like He finally made it through the programme and prosecute there's dismissed that felony case. In the end, though, Erin didn't the help he needed. I'm really sad to say that he died too twenty six at home and he's dead
How's he died of an apparent over. I spoke to her sister Ashley Robin NET, and She says, there's no way to know if he would have better if he had been offered meaningful services through the diversion programme, but what we do know is that he wasn't. They did not offer ass one help for airy, not anything. That diversion programme It failed. My brother and now he's gone. maybe what have you ve helped him a little more? I hope You can get a programme in there that That will help people to get clean, to find a job to living their life. Lee tells us that a new Pinelli County attorney took office this year. Here.
The contract with corrected solutions after he reviewed summer reveals findings. His office is creating an enhanced diversion programme to see pit. Erin in Red, leaves reporting on diversion visit our website news that sometimes the people bail, others out of jail, can run in the legal troubles of their own or what I tried calling other bail bondsman France alone. When you get it go through. Anyone probably wasn't jail when the El bondsmen goes behind bars, that's up. Next reveal from the centre for investigative affording MP our eggs. From the sooner for investigative reporting. In p, r ex this is reveal a mallet. At this hour
we ve been talking about programmes to key people out of the criminal justice system. Then hurting the people they're supposed to help now we need someone who is supposed to hear people was already in the system. His name Who is Dino Garcia? He was a boy he'll bonds agent living in Santa Clara County California, homesick on valley. Now, one day back in August, two thousand fifteen. He peak the blinds of his home. Although he was surrounded police officers and under cover cars park in front of a house with a loudspeaker guns, pointed out seven a m mind, you have my three my three weeks grants under my arm what I want open. The blind laser hit him later was going slowly up to realise this holy smoke, so that our dream, I put the baby, don't let us walk outside, as it already knew what it was about being what was used to getting people out of jail now he was headed. There himself I did bail out tried calling other Billy other bail, bondsman friends of mine when it
they can go through anyone, nobody wasn't jail along with dean Thirty other bail agents were arrested. It was the biggest of its kind in California, history and the culmination of a year long investigation by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office, but four thousand fellow who is faced with a stack of thirty one cases to prosecute it was the beginning. As a prosecutor for seventeen years working on some of the most serious cases in our office, I had no idea how little I knew about bail as he dug into the cases. Fuel learn more and more about how the bill system really works. Today, You gonna, hear evidence of those cases to through really heard phone calls between people behind bars and the bill agents who ve got the power to get them out, Suki Louis of Wikipedia and San Francisco takes inside the world of bail.
to understand why all those bail agents got busted. You first need to know what usually happens when someone gets arrested and brought to jail. There's fingerprints, a mug! mental health screening, maybe something to eat. And, of course, a phone call cause. If you want to get out of jail, usually he d call a bail agent. Like this one thing I can think about the glamour. Ok, do you reckon domestic violence your bill and about twenty five thousand? in this case the defendant composed the full twenty five grand to get out and if she has it money that she'll get back When the cases over by He doesn't have. The twenty five thousand dollars shall have to go. through a bail agent, because you can do that in return. For that see the bail coming It promises to make sure the defendant shows up the court that ten percent the company, keeps no matter what happens with the case, then that secures your release as long as you go to all your court date. If you don't show up,
agents are either supposed to find you or pay the court. The full bail amount, as somebody who can help you go to jail. The fund. It shows up the court that ten percent the company keeps no matter what happens with our county alone, bill companies pull in about twenty five million dollars in revenue each year nation wide it's a two billion dollar industry. The competition for this money is fierce, so bail agents like Dino Garcia, take as many of these calls as they can a long time ago enter your pulse. everything is bullshit or not. Million dollars, because we all hope and want that big one that one million dollar ten million dollar bill, because you never know dynasty. Guy was slipped back, dark hair he's always king for the next deal, he took hundreds of these calls a month. My fairly could tell you this day. I mean Christmas, how things given three. I am my phone. I sleep on my phone. I follows ringing
all the time with colleagues from occurring. guy was slipped back. Dark hair he's always looking for the next year when he took hundred nothing Where do the release of we have within made some her built through years of of trust over the phone? but you know you want. You want to develop The poor relation with inmates. And you know sometimes it entails skis. My friends, you we're bulls, You chopping up. You want them like you, but in these cars You can hear dino relationship with inmates crossing over from friendship to something else. entirely, I was I was asked to their work. So here's an inmate not calling for bail at all he's asking. now, if you can still work for him little bogey dino, says yeah
because what is this? Inmate have access to that dino desperately needs guys that have just been booked, and looking to bail out fresh clients an dino had a bunch of these inmates hustling for him sometimes called him ten times a day. Here's dino getting it. From another inmate local shown that all of you oh boy, I gotta I gotta go one for you. Apple computer, employ domestic violence, fail a hundred Kay. football match Dino asking they just value when atrocities are flat. Writing once called today he got his courtiers and it's a hundred shape. He said he was over. He put up, and you are what you looking over the moon and what you're here during right there and in eight arranging bail for another inmate. That's called bail, capping it's illegal and that's
are these calls were evidence in a felony criminal case c. California law says only that person has been arrested, their family member or their attorney can set up bail. The law is meant to protect mates from exploitation, for time arrest, these can be really scared and just don't know how the system works for exam. there's a chance, they could get released without having a pay bail at all and it was just Dino, and his guys. There were dozens of inmates and dozens of bail agents working these schemes, one in matrix, but are made more than twelve hundred calls to bail agents and just five months prosecutor fee has listened to hundreds of these calls where you can hear- he's recruiters working as middlemen, vouchers for other inmates and even negotiating discounts. They were sort of the gatekeepers of bail. That day controlled access to the phones and
they would actually. Maybe later maneuver people into or out of certain housing situations so that they, They have less competition for referring the inmates and how Do that might get people indifferent. Housing, lots of ways in jail to get people into I wanted to know how this whole thing worked from someone who was in on it. An inmate high so yeah our were still recording. Is that ok? So I tracked down disguise thought cope at pleasant Valley, state prison where he's now doing time for armed robbery he was transferred here from. Clara County jail where he spent his days working for bail agents. Did you kind of? How did you get the inmates to go along with them? Scott says in the area of the jail where he was locked up new inmates,
Laurent. Given instructions on how to use the phone codes needed to make a call so he'd help them yeah I got something no no, now. My two hundred million I'm gonna go wandering Bailey its compensated. These recruiters in two ways by book he means has commissary account to buy things in jail. Like noodles, stationary and shampoo when he was trained four out of the county jail to state prison called says he passed the business onto another inmate man. I was a pretty good business. Told me. He made fifteen thousand dollars in one year, I have no way of confirming that an prosecutor Philo couldn't either the jail cap no record of who deposited money into inmates accounts. You would
that you would have to show some identification or something in order to provide an inmate with common. Every credit or phone credit or actual cash, and you don't. so they were able to freely give those sorts of Bennett and with no accountability or no paper trail. The other way inmates were paid with phone calls to show you how worked? Let's, listen and again to one of dino guys calling him call will call you know more than three dollar eleven, then for the first in it, and eleven as you can hear, just initiating a call from jail can renew about four dollars cos. are limited to fifteen minutes and the charges rack up fast to accept this call with the ILO. Dino accepts the call and the charges there are just want to see a vacant speech. My life in time.
Dino agrees and connects them to his wife. That's what's known as a three way call Vinos picking up the charges, for this inmate to talk to his wife. Three way calls became occurring see between inmates and bail agents greasing the wheels of the bail scheme, but they also pose a threat to public safety. Security Philo says that inmates could make calls to set up new crimes and longed for meant what have no way of knowing because The only number that appears on the jail phone records is the bail agents number and the bail agent than uses his or her cell phone or office phone and makes a three They call to and fro instant that inmates domestic violence victim whose protein did by a restraining order. We would I have no way to prove that that phone call was made when Philo told me. I was like wait. A minute.
Remember how each call begins with colleagues from a collection facility and is subject to monitoring and recording. I have to wonder. Work it's actually listening and if they were Why did they let these calls continue. How are you today I put these questions to Amy lay she's prison the union that represents correctional officers in Santa Clara County, one of the inmates who is working as a recruiter for Bell Company made twelve Dread calls in the course of four and a half months, which is like that's a lot of. I was also the same number and it seems obvious, like ok, this guy doesn't need barrel. He can't be calling for bail but maybe Why would why would that happen? Or you know why? Wouldn't that come to someone's attention? We dumb
How many phone calls it may make a day or a month or weak? We don't want, or that are all the only time that department is monitoring the phone call. If there is no active criminal investigations. She told me, there's one guard on duty for seventy six inmates and policing. The phones just hasn't been that big of a priority and what this issue of the three way phone calls where it seems that the Bell agents were compensating inmates by giving them free phone calls, how that allowed the three ways: foam law is not allow at all, but is very difficult, if a person set up by the fall in you Are they gonna make a three way phone calls or not? Because you can't listen to their want phone conversation at that moment over Past two years I've tried many times to get the Santa Clara County Sheriffs Department, which runs the jails to respond to all the questions. It came up in my reporting like how in
were able to control the phones, how jail staff could then in the dark about this illegal activity, and was there any truth to claims correctional staff were action. the enormous schemes the sheriffs depart. Meant wouldn't answer any of these questions. the next place I turned for answers was outside the jail to the bail industry itself. How much did or proboscis know about what their employees were. Up too, we were by surprise by alas, are all clear account after many, quests over the past year? I finally got a callback from Peter Boats, chief counsel, for the biggest bail company in the country. Aladdin, eight current or former Aladdin employees were arrested in the twenty fifteen sting or respond to them the rats which to bring in an outside law, conducted
investigation. As a result of that we turn to the employees than I can ended it just to investigate these people? They come in to like investigate. Is this more widespread? Is this happening throughout the company, as is happening in other places? in California, No. They were brought in specifically to look into the allegations, made Clara. However, as part of our own sorted internal review. We did a few things. Both says the company, put in place, an internal auditor to monitor the recorded, calls from jail and proactively look for violations of the law, the line I've gotten from most people in the bail industry is that the agents doing ass were just a few bad apples, but remember dozens of bail agents from seven different companies were involved, prosecutes,
her Philo says her office actually had to limit the scope of its investigation. There may have been even more agents involved, but they just didn't. Have the resources to keep looking Philo says bail. Capping is not just happening in her county. I think it's I think it's well known that its happening throb, state beyond and twenty Fourteen investigators in New Jersey, reviewed calls for more than half the states, jails found. Bail agents were using inmates as recruiters in pretty much all of them. So far I told you about all the illegal stuff Philo learnt that the bail age for using inmates to recruit new business that the agents were paying those recruiters and that a lot of this was happening out in the open now
Gonna. Take you back to something fellow said right at the beginning of this story. As a prosecutor for seventeen years working on some of the most serious cases in our office, I had now idea how little I knew about bail, but these cases and his phone calls also Opened her eyes to how legal bail deals are made, you might think one the judge sets a bail amount that that's a hard and fast number, but not quite so. As long as you can come into bail company devalue out, you're out of custody now this point, she's making is really important judge- determine who is eligible for bail, but bail genes are the ones actually deciding who gets released from jail and on what terms? Not the judge. Now law enforcement and that can saying that feel us talking about cancer.
Unlike this, ok, I have highlighted by one what you know you believe- and I have my bought holding up. Here's a female. calling dino to convince him to bail out the other party dollar forty one day I'll be are you afraid by them up here are worried by the Roma Dino told me he often choked around with inmates talked to them on their own level. So we I don't know if this woman died of jail by making some kind of deal with Dino.
The thing is, nobody knows the final details of any of the deal's inmates make with bail agents their private contracts and there never reviewed by a judge or a regulator. You know we're just were turned a good business were to help people out. When I met with dino and stairwell. On the third floor of Santa Clara Counties, Hall of Justice, he just accept A plea deal three months in jail and wanted to tell his side of the story, and I want to make point about dino here either a story because he agreed to talk to me of all the agents who were arrested. His behaviour wasn't even the most egregious for help everybody and everybody bills. When Dino says everybody bales he's pointing out that fierce competition and the industry has created a buyers market. A lot of companies. Offer arrest is even those charged with violent, felonies zero a down payment plants in essence in May.
can walk out of jail for free, but they can end up paying off there. EL that long after their cases over. I brought this up with the Latin, because it do offer these. No money are little money down payment plans. Here's the companies, business manager, her mutter, so there are payment sand and those are on a case by case basis, but then still that the gene, It sets the bail amount, but then the bail agent decides how much money the person has to pay to get out of jail. They decide they make their release decision. We went back, Fourth, on this, a bunch of times with me asking how bail deals like best, protect public safety and how this is good public policy- and Rob saying we're doing, our job we're making people show up to court, makes a decision on whether the post to bail bonds and once again the bail bond is guaranteed. The appearance of the individual in court, and that's it that's what the bill bundle
Aladdin chief concern is making sure the person shows up to court because if they don't come He stands to lose a bunch of money right. I think everybody understands that the concept of bail is that someone. puts money at risk to ensure that a defendant will appear in court, It is shocking how infrequently that business model actually occurs now Aladdin says they do pay the court when a defendant, skips bail, but Tell me how much or how often Philo said what she sees most often is not balcony mace, paying out to the courts or bail agents. Returning people who skipped bail but line for spent picking up those same defendants and booking them back into custody
about a year and a half after dino and the other thirty agents were arrested. I went to the final here in the cases twenty two who agents and total accepted plea deals with sending as ranging from community service to four months jail time? No one. Its recharged What was that caught up with feel out on the street outside the court house, she was headed. Back to her office wheeling her giant stack of your overall impression. I mean my overall impression is that it will make some impact in the industry. I do hope that at least the prosecutions themselves will cause people to pop As when their engaging in chrome why activity as it relates to bail, these cases have changed. Philo too, it has been. strangely eye opening experience for me as a prosecutor
she's argued in court for high bail amounts countless times, but this year she testify before state leaders that qualify. His bail system needs drastic reform in order to keep defend its accountable and to protect them.
like that Suki Louis of cake. You d in San Francisco California, law makers are considering a bill that would significantly limit the role of for profit bail companies. Suki tells us that other states, including the Jersey and Mexico, have already perform their bail systems, but there could be nationwide changes. Federal courts are considering with a cash bail, meets poor people and of staying in jail and fairly in violation of the equal protection clause of the constitution. Cavernous gasket was only producer. This week show devolve edited our stories on diversion programmes along with managing editor Andy value. With help from general a floor me as a candle edited our bail bond story, Jim Briggs leads our designer and engineer had helped this week from Catherine May, mandolin catch, admit original, music and mixing this week by ranting ever blued. Amy powers are editor in chief, so the rivers executive editor our executive producers Kevin solving. Our theme is expect camera, like support for reveals, provided by the relevant David Logan Foundation for Foundation, the John D and Catherine Team, Macarthur Foundation, the genus and James I might foundation the hiding Simons Foundation and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal is a co production of the centre for investigative reporting and pr Ex I'm Alex can remember. There is always more to the store
yeah. These are last few shows of the year, and let me tell you into, Twenty we are bringing the fire launch. Some of our most ambitious projects we ve ever done. I cannot wait for you to hear them reveal. Is about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter and this kind of investigative journalism well its time and it costs money are the final weeks of our end of the year membership campaign. We depend on listeners like you- to help make this work possible to support us steps toward reveal to four seven four, seven four seven stated data. Apply- and you can take stop or cancel at any time again just take The word reveal to four seven four, seven, four, seven Let's go do some good work together.
Transcript generated on 2019-12-21.