Jail – The Defendant’s Timeshare Program

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When your client is facing incarceration, they frequently have questions about the process and how the jail operates. Since, I would hope, we collectively have little personal experience, the best we can do is listen to the folks that run the jail and our prior clients that have personal experience.

Work Release versus Work Furlough Unlike the Department of Corrections which is operated by the state, the jail system is operated by the county sheriff. And, unlike a prison term, a jail sentence may include work release or work furlough. Normally, the court may sentence a defendant in a felony matter to a maximum of one year of jail as a condition of probation. If a misdemeanor, the maximum jail term is six months.

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Entry into any work program is by court order. If work release is ordered, the court will set the time of work and incarceration. It is incumbent upon you to make sure the sentencing order is correct. If granted work furlough, probation will set forth the conditions of work and jail hours. Unlike work release, work furlough must be approved and monitored by the adult probation department.

At least in Maricopa County, where jail is ordered in a felony case, it is rare to obtain a work release order from the court. Normally, your client will receive work furlough monitored by probation. However, for misdemeanor convictions in the superior, justice or city courts, the normal sentence permits work release.

If granted work release, the court will specifically set forth the hours of work, and the subsequent hotel time back at the jail.

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When sentenced, there are two ways to enter: either being taken into custody form the courthouse, or being permitted to self-surrender. If self surrendering, please advise your client to not drive to the jail unless they are legally able to. Make sure they arrive early and remain in the processing center until they are processed into the jail. I have had clients forced to wait a couple of hours in the lobby until they were processed.

If your client arrives with alcohol on their breath or if they arrive late, they may be denied entry. If they fail to bring their commitment paperwork to the jail, again they may be denied entry. If denied entry, they must immediately return to the sentencing court for a new commitment order. Normally you will not need to appear with them, but they must go to the court to obtain the new order. If they fail to do so, they risk a warrant, a probation violation and possibly new charges.

Clients with Medical Issues When your client has medical issues, additional care is needed to make sure they receive the proper medical care. Upon intake, the jail does a thorough intake. But the problem is the intake is premised on our client’s being honest about their medical conditions. I have my clients bring copies of any prescriptions they have received. In that manner they have proof they can receive the designated medicines. I have had clients create their own problems by not being upfront with jail authorities.

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When clients have substantial medical issues, they can contact the jail prior to their incarceration. The jail has a correctional health liaison at the Lower Buckeye Jail. Where specific medical arrangements may be required, contacting them prior to your client’s incarceration normally can help ensure a smooth transition and continuity of care. Clients are not permitted to bring their own medicine to the jail. So, working with the liaison officer ahead of time can really help to ensure the proper medication is timely available.

Denial of Entry Into Work Program Even if your client received an order permitting work, the jail still can deny the court’s order. The court has no jurisdiction to mandate what jail an inmate is sent to and no jurisdiction to order the sheriff to release anyone for work. Flanders v. Maricopa County, 203 Ariz. 368, 54 p.3d 837 (App. 2002); see also Judd v. Bollman, 166 Ariz. 417, 803 P.2d 138 (App. 1990). In my experience, this really affects two basic defendants: those with medical issues and those that have been convicted of a sex crime. When these defendants enter the jail, the authorities may place defendants with medical issues in the medical ward. And, any defendant with any type of history for sex crimes will not be placed into the general population. If not in the general population, they have no access to the physical area that monitors the entry and intake for the work programs.

Quick Tips for your Clients in a Work Program 1. Bring ID, the commitment paperwork and some cash for the commissary. 2. Enter on a full stomach, it may be awhile until your first meal. 3. Dress warmly, you will be in the tents and it cools off at night. 4. Stay quiet and to yourself…. It is no place to make friends. 5. No cellphones are permitted therefore no list of contacts. They will need to memorize phone numbers or try to bring a piece of paper with phone numbers . 6. According to the jail paperwork, they may bring a combination padlock, one magazine or paperback book and one non-electrical alarm clock.

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