Talking to People as They Get Released from OC Jail at Midnight

Categories: Crime-iny

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Photos by Yesenia Varela
At 12:05 every morning, Santa Ana Central Jail releases its first inmates of the day from the Intake and Release Center out to the gates that open up to W. Sixth Street, to free bed space for incoming prisoners.

"As soon as midnight hits we can kick them out the door," Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Jeffrey Hallock said. "We can release them."

Reasonable enough, right? But let's all agree midnight isn't exactly the best time for someone to leave jail. So the Weekly visited on two consecutive nights to interview folks who were just leaving jail and get their thoughts on their new-found freedom.

The first person I interview is a woman who requests anonymity. She seems startled but after I identify myself as a Weekly reporter, she loosens her arms from a tight fold and agrees to speak.

The inmate says she was detained for domestic violence, but claims to be innocent. For two days, she says, she wondered about the state of her children.

"What was really hard was not knowing what the hell's going on," the woman says. To comfort herself and try to make the two days go by quickly, she spent the majority of her time behind bars asleep.

There are three things you can do for free in jail, she explains: sleep, watch television or read. She also had the choice to place collect calls to a relative or friend, but she chose not to do that. After she served her sentence, the guards informed her at about 8:30 p.m. that it was time to leave. She says she doesn't understand why it takes so long to be released.

"We waited too long to get our clothes, we waited too long for everything," she complains.

Luckily, her phone's battery was still working, so she was able to call someone to pick her up. But she still understands the hardship that inmates who don't have a cell phone (at least one that isn't out of battery) go through after being released.

"[A charged cell phone] is our life line," the former inmate says. "I didn't know any number but my parent's number--that is it. I didn't know my kid's number--nothing." She holds up her phone as if she were holding Wonka's Golden Ticket in her hand.

After answering a few questions, she walks away, determined to fight in court and get full custody of her kids. Just because she was in jail, doesn't mean she isn't sane, she insists.

**

It's 1:25 a.m. Abel Betancourt is released. As I drink my hot coffee, he approaches to ask if I had a phone he could use to call his mom to pick him up. After speaking to his mom, they agree he should walk a block down to meet her after she is done fully waking up.

Betancourt, 19, spent about a week in jail after being arrested for burglary.

"You go to court and they totally fuck you over," Betancourt says. "They tell you your charges and that's it. You have to wait for another hearing. They keep adding time and then you never really finish your time."

After not seeing anyone released out the jail gates for an hour, I go home.

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35 comments
fc2479
fc2479

What a stupid story, got some good advice.  First off nothing good happens after one in the morning.  Second I have a novel suggestion don't do any stupid shit and you won't have contact with the police and end up in the OC jail being interviewed by the idiots that write for this rag....

Holland Hewson
Holland Hewson

As a parole I wish that this would happen in the state system.

Olga Harris
Olga Harris

Then they go hang atbthe 7/11 waiting to call someone or just hang why don't they make sure they have somewhere to go!

Krista Palmer
Krista Palmer

For those being released without a way to call someone, there usually is an RV with a bright light parked outside the jail, along with volunteers from Micah's Way (a local nonprofit that works to help those in need in Santa Ana) providing hot coffee and a cell phone to use. I think they're usually there from about 11:30pm- 3 or 4 am, whenever the releases stop.

Rich Wagner
Rich Wagner

Jeff Bullingham you are so right, extremely VITAL to hire an EXPERIENCED criminal defense attorney in Southern California

Jennifer Morin Dacy
Jennifer Morin Dacy

they get released after midnight so there is 2 people assigned to that cot in a calendar day... meaning they get paid double that day for the one bed

Angela Pucci
Angela Pucci

"Drug procession" Really? You can't spell possession?

Jeff Bullingham
Jeff Bullingham

Rich Wagner: This is one of the many reasons why it is VITAL to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney whenever you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense.....

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

I feel bad for the wrongly accused, but what percentage is that?  For those that actually committed a crime..who cares?  Think about the stuff the peoples house or car you broke into feel, or the person you assaulted.

Mike MacDuffee
Mike MacDuffee

I don't think people care what time they get out. As long as it's asap

Brandon Walter
Brandon Walter

They usually get out of the jail around 4am though after getting processed out.

Anonymous
Anonymous

All you have to do is look at federal and state public court records and search OC Sheriff, County of Orange, etc., and will discover that as long as there are civil rights violations, deaths while incarcerated and beatings in the OC jail, the attorneys on all sides of litigation will continue to laugh all the way to the Bank. 

IMO, as an outsider looking in, I cannot help but wonder if the County of Orange and the OC Sheriff's Department get a kickback and/or piece of lawsuit settlements, whether they win or lose.  This is the only reason to justify YEARS of frivolous and extended lawsuits that in the real world involving ethical attorneys would not exist. 

Rich Wagner
Rich Wagner

Jeff Bullingham at least now we know another fact about Orange County

Kimberly Duran
Kimberly Duran

Wierd people ? Inmates can be anyone ,you can all be criminals. The first time I left that place I was arrested for painting on the street , that jail is hell, now Santa Ana is paying me to paint there city. Hahhaha !

Mel Kinnee
Mel Kinnee

It's friggin' jail, you people, not a hotel......I'm sure they are "so corrupt", of course all of the inmates have been wrongly accused....OMG!!!

Brennan King Cane
Brennan King Cane

Dumping people on the street at midnight in Orange County. What could possibly go wrong?

Kassy Martinez
Kassy Martinez

They do it at all hours, i take the bus around 5:15am to 6am, and i always see weird people(immates) asking for money for the bus.

Tracie Pike
Tracie Pike

Never heard of the place.... OCWJ 550 N Flower

Daniel Hernandez
Daniel Hernandez

You guys are doing great stuff. Keep up the good work! - Daniel H.

Lizz Jacobo
Lizz Jacobo

I'm glad I got to experience that first hand. I cried when I left because I felt like I couldn't do anything for the women left behind. It's a revolving door and the people who work there are scum. I feel sorry for them too.

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