Work release vs jail in San Bernardino County


-I’m here with top San Diego
County criminal defense lawyer Michael Scafiddi. And Mike, I want to ask you
about the work release program here in the county, the sort
of, as a jail alternative. And first of all, I mean
just by way of background, sometimes when a
person gets sentenced to do county jail time, instead
of having to go and spend the night in jail and actually
sort of live in the jail, they get to do work
release, right? -That’s correct. -And I guess my
first question is, does the judge have
to approve that, or can somebody
automatically do that, if they get sentenced
to jail time. -Well, typically, what will
happen in San Bernardino County, they’ll be a
negotiated resolution between our office and
the district attorney. And we’ll negotiate that
upfront whether or not it’s going to be straight time,
or a work release program. Ultimately, the court has
to sign off on that plea. So ultimately, the court
does have the ability to either accept or reject
the work release program. -So generally, you’ll
negotiate it with the DA as part of the plea,
get the DA on board, and then finally get
the judge on board. -That’s correct. -And if somebody
does get, if they’re entitled to do the work
release, logistically, how does that work? -Well, typically, in
San Bernardino County, we’re going to give
our client, who we’ve entered a plea for work
release, around 30 to 45 days to appear at the
Glen Helen facility in Devore, which is in
north San Bernardino. They have to present themselves
to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s official there. They have to pay $100. Cash only, no checks or
credit cards at the jail, and a photo ID. And they have to do that
either their reporting date, or prior to that reporting date. And they’ll be processed for
the work release program. -And then, let’s
say I have 30 days, I have to do 30 days
of work release. Am I going to do,
do I have to do that like 30 consecutive days? Could I do that over weekends? Could I do like three days
here and three days here? Do I have some flexibility,
in terms of that? -Typically, there
is some flexibility. Generally, people will
do it to the work release program on the weekends. They’ll report on
a Saturday morning to a set site, Norton Air Force
Base, the former Norton Air Force Base, or some Caltrans
duty on the side of the road. And they’ll do that all day
Saturday until about 3:00, 3:30 in the afternoon, and
then come back on Sunday. Now the sheriffs
do have the ability to have someone work
Monday through Friday. But typically, because
people are working and things like that,
they’ll do their work release in two-day blocks
on the weekends. -So usually, it’s
weekends, but it can be arranged to
do weekdays, as well. -That’s correct, it can. -And I imagine if somebody
has a lot of jail time to do, it would be easier just to sort
of do it over during the week, as well, because
there may not even be enough periods in the
probationary period, right? -That’s correct. And I always
recommend to clients, if they have the
time to do it, they should get it done
as soon as possible, because things
happen, and you don’t want to miss your
work release time, because it could lead
to a potential violation of their probation. -So if you’re not making
progress on your work release, and the case goes before the
judge, he can revoke that and say, OK, now you’re going to
go literally into West Valley, and do straight time. -That’s correct. That’s what the court will do. If they give you a chance
to do work release, and they’ve given you an
extended period of time to get it done during a
probationary period, and you don’t get it done,
they’re going to say, you know what, we’re going
to make sure you get done. And we’ll just put you up
West Valley Jail, or Central Detention Center, or
the jail up in Atlanta. They’ll find the bed for you,
if they feel like you’re not doing what you’re
supposed to do. -So you’ve got to really be on
top of it, and be proactive. -Absolutely. And what I tell our
clients all the time, Neil, is if you’re having problems,
whether it’s transportation problems or some family
emergencies have come up, let me know, and what we’ll
do for them, by the way, at no additional charge,
we’ll go into court and we’ll modify that term
to give them more time. -So if the judge gave
them six months to do it, maybe modify it to give
them a year or 18 months, so that it’s more
practical for them. -That’s correct. And that’s a service,
that when we tell people when we represent
them, we represent them from beginning to end. And that’s a service we’ll
throw in at no cost to them, as a professional courtesy. -Now, in terms of
cost to the program, you said it’s $100
to sign up, right? -Correct. -Now, let’s say I have 60
days of work release to do. Is there any more cost, or
is it just $100 up front? -It’s just $100 up front. But let’s say, for
example, you get thrown out of the work release
program, and we have to go back into the
court and get you reinstated in what we would call original
terms of the probation, you’re going to have
to pay that $100 again. So that occasion, if you
do fall out of the program, they’re going to
want their money, and you’re going to
have to pony it up. -Now, what’s a typical day like? I mean, let’s say
Saturday, I’m going to go do a work release day. What is my day
going to look like? -Let’s say, for
example, you’re assigned to a work crew that’s going to
work around the old Norton Air Force Base near
downtown San Bernardino. Typically, you’re going
to report on a Saturday to a designated area, at around
7:00, 7:30 in the morning. You’re going to be
met by a crew chief, and you’re going to be
assigned with other individuals to work a certain area. It could be pulling
up weeds or grass, or picking up trash
along the side of the roadway or
the exterior fence. And you’re generally
going to work– there will be a lunch
break– you’re generally going to work to about
3:00, 3:30 in the afternoon. -And starting is what time? -About 7:30. And generally, it’s about
3:30, and the same thing will happen again on Sunday
when you’re up for work. -So I mean, it’s labor,
but it’s not anything, it’s not a terrible hardship. -I wouldn’t say it’s a terrible
hardship, but in San Bernardino in the summer, when
it’s 100 degrees, but it feels like
it’s 175 degrees. -You’re going to be outside. -You’re going to be outside,
and it could have a wear and tear on your body. And typically, what we’ll
do on something like that, we’ll try to get that converted
to some sort of community service, especially if you have
an older client, or someone with a disability. -But in any case, I
mean, it certainly beats spending the day and the
night in West Valley Detention Center, or one of
the actual jails. -My opinion in talking to the
clients, all the clients we have, work release is always
better than straight jail time.

4 thoughts on “Work release vs jail in San Bernardino County

  1. The person could be charged with murder, maybe even prosecuted as an adult. But if it was a legitimate accident, then that is probably a good defense.

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