Years ago, for the purpose of fighting crime, Baltimore City was broken down into districts. In each district was a station house, with holding cells inside. Depending on where a defendant was arrested, he would be taken to the district that serviced that area. Upon being taken in, the defendant would immediately be allowed a telephone call. Afterwards, he would be fingerprinted, photographed, and would wait approximately 8 hours to see the court commissioner.
The commissioner, considering the defendant’s past criminal record, stability as a citizen, and the safety of the general public, would make a decision to either:
A. Set an appropriate bond (the commissioner had broad discretion on the amount)
B. Release the defendant on his/her own recognizance
C. Hold the defendant without bond
If a defendant was given a bail, he was allowed another phone call to make family aware, and arrange bond. At that time, a bail bondsman was free to post bond, and the defendant would be immediately released. On the spot! In the mid 1990′s, the city decided it would be faster and more efficient to detain all arrestees in Baltimore in one centralized location for processing. The primary objective was to get arresting officers back on the streets quicker.
So, along came Baltimore’s Central Booking facility: a 300 million dollar building, with a new “morgue-styled” system of processing inmates. Officers would drop off an arrestee, type up a statement of charges, and leave. The facility itself takes over from there. Faster? More efficient? Not so much.
Even with technology second to none in the nation, there was such chaos when Central Booking first opened, that people literally got lost in the system–for days. There were caravans of police wagons lined up along Madison Street, waiting to herd defendants in like sheep. On a daily basis, at least double the amount of defendants that the facility was designed to accommodate would be dropped off there, and left to be sorted. A decade later, Central Booking has made significant progress, but it is still a bad experience for most who encounter it.
Although fewer people are getting lost today, the system of processing inmates continues to move slowly. The “toe tag” system is still in place, but it has gotten better organized. The biggest issue that remains is the number of new arrestees in Baltimore City that are dumped in to one laundry basket. Unfortunately, incorrect information is sometimes mistakenly given out by jail staff. This often leaves loved ones frustrated and confused.
The Way Bail Really Works At Baltimore City’s Central Booking Facility
A. An arrest is made.
B. The defendant is transported to Central Booking by the arresting officer.
C. The defendant is fingerprinted, photographed, and given a wrist band with an ID# on it.
D. The defendant is allowed to make a phone call, placed in a holding cell, and will see a commissioner inside of 24 hours. The average time to be seen is 14-18 hours.
E. Even after the defendant is seen by a commissioner, the records department of Central Booking MUST receive the defendant’s paperwork, and enter it into THEIR system before a bail bondsman can post a bond. This sometimes causes an additional 5-7 hour delay.
After a defendant is seen by a commissioner, a pre-trial investigator contacts the defendant’s family. If bond has been set, the investigator routinely tells the family it’s okay to hurry on down and post bond. This is absolutely incorrect. Unless the records department of Central Booking (also known as “records”) has the folder, there is nothing that can be done. A lot of miscommunication and confusion begins here.
This is another reason why choosing a reputable bail bondsman is so important. On top of the long wait your loved one already has in front of him once he is arrested, the last thing you need is to wait for a bondsman to post bond.
Why You Need To Know This
At Fred Frank Bail Bonds, we not only want your business, but we are serious about customer service. We would never, under any circumstance, leave your loved one sitting in jail a second longer than necessary. We put ourselves in the shoes of each of our clients. As a bail bondsman, I ask myself on every case: “What if it was MY kid sitting in there?”
A bail bondsman you can trust communicates with you, every step of the way. At Fred Frank Bail Bonds, we want to earn your business and trust with straightforward answers to your questions, and fast, reliable service. Although we cannot speed up the process at Central Booking, we hope you now understand exactly what happens when a person is arrested in Baltimore City.
Until next time,
Valdez V. Fisher, Jr.
Fred W. Frank Bail Bondsman