Feature: Wednesday, December 07, 2005
These stripe-suited folks are helping serve up the not-so-goodies to inmates.
Tarrant County’s jail cells might have more vacancies if the pre-trial release program were expanded.
Coffey: ‘We have to get better at doing criminal justice triage.’
Jailhouse Blues

Who benefits from Tarrant County’s flawed pre-trial release system?


Three days in jail taught me some lessons.

When you are in jail, you should keep to yourself and keep the eyes open. Always profess innocence, or at the very least, make the point that the man is up against you and the guards are not to be trusted. Watch out in the shower. But first and foremost, make it your top priority to figure out how to get out. Before proving your innocence, before learning jail lingo or getting a tattoo, before cryin’ the blues, comes Job One: finding a lawyer or bonding agent or friendly bureaucrat who can get you out.

I wasn’t exactly innocent, although like everyone else, I had Extenuating Circumstances. I’d gotten behind on child support payments because my income had dropped after I signed the divorce papers. I’m working on getting caught up now, but in the meantime, I got arrested, for the first time in my life. In the end, I had to borrow $5,000 to get out.

For the three days until I could arrange that, I was in the Cold Springs Unit of the Tarrant County jail system. There I found I was part of a vast population of people who not only haven’t been able to buy a ticket to freedom, but they don’t even know where the depot is. And that’s something all the tax-paying, law-abiding folks in Tarrant County should worry about. Because the prisoners are eating, sleeping, and watching lots of tv on your nickel.

Since Cold Springs on the near North Side is a low-security facility, most of the inmates were there on misdemeanor or lower-level felony charges. Actually, those are the things they got arrested for. The reason that most of them, days or weeks or months after the arrest, were still in jail is that they couldn’t make bond. Like the college kid who was in for possession of less than a gram of pot, but because it was his second offense, had had his bond set at $4,000. The bonding companies wanted $1,000 cash in order to put up the $4,000; because he couldn’t swing that, he’d had to drop out of the University of North Texas and had been in the joint for three weeks.

Another guy had been caught driving with an expired license (again, a second offense, he said). He couldn’t afford his bond either. As far as he knew, sitting in the 40-person jail pod for four weeks until his case came to trial was his only choice. Even if found guilty, he’d probably get a sentence no longer than the time he’d already served. But the sad part was that the guy figured he was going to lose his job in the construction biz and his apartment by the time he got out.

There were a bunch of other examples of non-violent, low-risk defendants who couldn’t find the cash to get out. Some were there because they’d missed probation hearings, others for writing bad checks. A couple of men were there for their first DUI arrests.

Now I know that there are a lot of lies in a jail, and I did take these stories with a grain of salt. But I kept thinking one thing: If Tarrant County is so squeezed for jail beds — in fact, is considering spending $100 million or more on a new jail — then why are all these non-scary guys staying in here so long? Especially since — as I later learned — there is a county program specifically aimed at getting non-violent, low-flight-risk inmates out of jail?

It’s a question that keeps raising its ugly head among judges, elected county officials, criminal defense lawyers, and the bail bond industry in Tarrant County. The program called Tarrant County PreTrial Services (TCPS) uses personal recognizance bonds — which cost $20 or 3 percent of the bond — to get those non-violent misdemeanor and felony inmates out of the jail and off the county room-and-board bill. But even while the county is debating where to build and how much to spend on a new jail, the idea of making better use of the beds doesn’t seem to be part of the discussion.

A recent study ordered by Tarrant County commissioners found that this county makes much less use of the pre-trial release program than other big-city counties: Only about 16 percent of inmates use the county program here, compared to 40 to 60 percent in other counties.

Some Tarrant officials think that 16 percent figure is “about right.” They talk about “balancing” the low-cost pre-trial release program with the need of local bail bondsmen to make money — a bail bond business that is much larger here than in many counties and, by many accounts, a powerful local political force. And in fact, the commissioners’ own decisions — to limit staffing for the pre-trial release program and to limit the access those staffers have to prisoners — are two of the major factors keeping the program from being used more widely.

Some officials — and some lawyers and bail bondsmen — say it’s to the county’s financial benefit to maintain the status quo or even to shrink the pre-trial release system. The county makes money off forfeited private bonds when defendants don’t show up. A larger pre-trial services department would cost more money. And maybe more of those still-innocent-until-proven-guilty folks just need to stay in jail.

But when you boil away the arguments by those with a vested interest, the question becomes pretty simple. Right now, the county is paying $55 a day for every inmate and, partly as a result, contemplating a $100 million new jail. So who benefits from folks staying in those beds and racking up those costs? As usual, the answer is probably to be found in following the money.

In every county, the pre-trial services agency sets qualifications that defendants must meet to use their program. In the Tarrant system, accused persons must be residents of the county and have been charged with an offense here. Parolees and those with any previous felony convictions don’t qualify. And Tarrant County PreTrial Services can’t write bonds for those charged with first-degree felonies and some other felonies. In short, those charged with most non-violent offenses (drug, theft, and DUI cases) can usually qualify, while those held on most violence-related criminal charges (rape, assault, murder) do not. So a felony rape defendant wouldn’t qualify, but someone held on a lower-level felony public lewdness charge might. Judges can use their discretion to approve pre-trial releases — and because their decisions vary so widely, they become another factor in the process.

TCPS director Michelle Brown said the Tarrant program is one of the most restrictive in the state. For example, other counties do not limit their program only to their own residents, and many make it available to people with minor prior records.

The program’s limited budget — about $1 million a year for 16 staffers — also affects who gets offered the get-out-of-jail-cheap option. Travis County has an average of 500 fewer inmates than Tarrant on any given day, but three times as many staffers in its pre-trial release program; they try to contact almost every inmate within 24 hours of arrest.

Dallas County, on the other hand, has just four pre-trial release employees, but keeps a staff of salaried public defenders who come into cases much faster than the private, court-appointed lawyers used for indigent defense in Tarrant County. They thereby play larger roles in getting their clients into the pre-trial release program.

Because there are 32 jails in Tarrant County and only 16 TCPS staffers, the city where an arrest is made also plays a big part in whether the pre-trial program is offered to you. Brown explained that, in Fort Worth and Arlington, her staffers get the full list each day of persons who have been arrested and arraigned, and can offer their program to all on the list who qualify. But in other, smaller cities, they must rely on the courts to send them the names of those who might qualify — rather than getting the full list of arrestees each day. In Tarrant County, bonds for lower-level state-jail felonies and misdemeanors are usually set by municipal judges.

“We follow the rules that the judges set,” Brown said. “One of the biggest thing that [decisions] are based on is whether those in the program are considered a flight risk or danger to the community. We try to assess that quickly. In 2005, we had a failure-to- appear rate of only 4.5 percent. Part of the reason for that low number is that we make them come into our offices once a month, or even weekly, depending on the case. Give us a few more staff members and the ability to release a few more people, and the failure-to-appear [rate] won’t change.”

TCPS has limited staffing on weekends, even though arrests peak on Friday and Saturday nights. And therein lies part of the problem: Lawyers and judges might know about the program, but most inmates have never heard of it. Following the Job One rule, those who get arrested on a Friday night will usually do whatever they have to — including paying a regular bondsman — to get the hell out before the weekend is up. So many who might benefit are out before they even hear about the program.

The Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association has been pushing the Tarrant County Commissioners Court to expand the program for years. Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer Mark Daniel, representing that group, said the way pre-trial services is used here wastes millions of dollars in public money. “What we are doing is setting high bonds for people with minor offenses, and then they spend all the money they have to get out,” Daniel said. “The public then has to pay for indigent defense lawyers.”

Daniel studied the number of criminal defendants who were poor enough to qualify for publicly paid lawyers and found many of those defendants had used private bond companies. In September 2004, those qualifying for public defenders had bail bonds from private companies totaling $4.9 million. By April 2005, that number had swollen to $7.3 million. Daniel figured that if the bondsmen were charging an average 15 percent of the bond amount as their fees, those defendants probably paid more than $1 million to the bond companies.

“The absurdity of this situation is more than apparent,” Daniel wrote in a letter to commissioners in May. “Under this system, a person charged with a criminal offense pays a bail bondsman to secure release from jail and then is often left without sufficient resources to retain counsel. The citizens of Tarrant County are then left to foot the bill for court-appointed counsel.”

How much is that costing taxpayers? The Colorado-based National Center For State Courts, which studied the Tarrant County system at the commissioners’ request, reported in August that in 2001, the county’s expenditures for court-appointed counsel totaled more than $5.7 million. By 2004, that amount had risen to $10.7 million, an increase of 87 percent. Because of a state law passed in 2001 covering indigent defense rights, many counties saw their costs for court-appointed lawyers go up. But state-wide, that increase averaged just 40 percent. “Felony and misdemeanor filings increased during this time as well, but the increase did not parallel the growth in indigent costs,” the report concluded.

The very nature of Tarrant’s indigent defense system — hiring private attorneys on a case-by-case basis rather than employing a staff of public defenders — apparently is part of the problem. Statewide, indigent defense costs in counties with public defenders’ offices averaged $386 per client, the consultants said. In counties like Tarrant that use court-appointed lawyers, the cost per client is $422.

Daniel thinks that expanding the TCPS program to match what is found in other big Texas counties will save money in a number of areas. If the program covered 40 percent of the defendants instead of 16 percent, the number of those needing a public defender might drop by half, Daniel said.

Then there is the cost of jailing. According to County Administrator G. K. Maenius, last week 2,095 of the 3,281 inmates — or about 64 percent —in Tarrant County jail facilities were awaiting trial. Most were there on felony charges, but 286 were misdemeanor defendants. If the pre-trial numbers were reduced just by 15 percent, the savings for the county could be as much as $6.3 million per year.

(The Texas Jail Standard Commission reported different numbers in early November, finding that 44 percent of the inmates in Tarrant County were awaiting trial — still a higher percentage than other big-city counties except Travis.)

Maenius said the county must maintain a balance between bond companies and pre-trial services. “First of all, no one gets out on pre-trial unless the judge orders them out,” he said. “We have used pre-trial in the past, and those who don’t need to be in jail don’t stay there.” He said the county has expanded the range of offenses that a person can be charged with and still qualify for the low-cost release program and might be able to expand it further. “But the balance is the key, and we need to have the assurances that people will be showing up in court. Sometimes having a financial investment assures that more.”

Max (he asked that his real name not be used) was arrested for DUI in Arlington last year. It was his first offense, a Class B misdemeanor. The Tarrant County Bail Board recommends a bond of $500 in such cases — which would have meant Max could have gotten out of jail for $100 to $200, depending on which bail bond company he used. But an Arlington municipal judge set the bond at $3,000, and Max had to pay almost $900 in fees to get out. He later pleaded no-contest and was given probation.

The Grapevine resident would have qualified for pre-trial release, which would have cost him only $90. But in three days in jail he never heard of the program. “I just wanted to get out,” Max said, “so I had to borrow money from my boss just to get the money for the bondsman.”

Max is married, has children in school, works for a telemarketing company, and had just bought a house before the incarceration — all factors that would have qualified him as having strong ties to the community and representing a low flight risk. “No one even spoke to me in those three days, and I had a hard time making contact with anyone to get the bail money,” Max said. “My wife was making calls to people we knew to get that kind of money, because we didn’t have the savings. If we had known about pre-trial release at that lower cost, we would have tried to arrange that. But I had to get out, because I could have lost my job.

“I know I made a terrible mistake, and I assured the court and everyone that it will never happen again,” he said. “But I’ve been told since then that the bond was not based on any ... standard. It was just what court and what judge I got.”

His situation is quite common. Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer Tim Moore said he sees outrageously high bonds like Max’s every week. “We really can’t figure out who is benefiting from all this,” Moore said. “The high bonds benefit the bond companies, but the cities and the counties are left on the hook for the jail costs. Most of these misdemeanor cases should have little or no bond, but we see all these courts failing to follow bond guidelines.”

In Tarrant County, bonds for the same misdemeanor can range from $500 to $10,000, depending mostly on which municipal court judge sets the bond. Many local judges and lawyers said Arlington judges tend to set higher bonds than others in Tarrant County and Fort Worth judges lower than the average — but it’s a crapshoot. “It all depends on what judge you are standing in front of,” Moore said. “It’s not judicially fair, and it’s costing the taxpayers money for which they get no benefit.”

District Judge Daryl Coffey, who handles misdemeanor cases, figures that about 70 percent of the defendants who come before him have gotten bonds from the private sector. “If you have a job and live here, and it is a non-violent offense, and you have ties to the community, you should be out immediately in most cases,” he said. “These people should never even be booked into a jail, but a lot of them are. By the time they get into my court, some have already bonded out, but some haven’t been able to. Those jail beds need to be used efficiently and effectively for people who need to be in jail. The violent offenders need to be in jail with high bonds, because the community needs to be protected. But the rapist costs the same to incarcerate as a hot-check writer.”

District Judge Robert Gill, who handles mostly felony cases, also feels the pre-trial services program needs to be expanded. “We should be using [the program] in a more aggressive way,” Gill said. “I think staffing levels might need to be brought up higher, so that more people can be found who qualify.”

“Bonds are all over the place,” Gill continued. “One municipality might be different from another, and one judge in that municipality will be different from another judge in the same municipality.”

The consultants’ report recommended establishing a central magistrate office in Tarrant County and “a consistent bonding schedule” to make the booking system more uniform. “Ultimately, central magistration should be the goal in Tarrant County,” the consultants wrote. “This ... would allow for a controlled and consistent process for establishing probable cause, setting bail amounts, and advising detainees of the charges against them and their right to counsel.”

The Colorado firm recommended a video conferencing system be created — along with interviews of defendants early in their incarceration — so that county-paid magistrates in Fort Worth could set bonds for all the Tarrant County municipalities. In effect, the municipal courts would keep bond-setting jurisdiction only over smaller offense such as traffic tickets.

District Judge Sharen Wilson says the county is working to establish a more efficient central magistrate system. “We are working on that even as we speak,” Wilson said. “We could consolidate some of the booking procedures. We have people arrested in one place and then go to another location, and too often some of the services needed to be done get lost in the movement.”

But Wilson brought up one salient point: “There is no doubt that politics is involved on all the decisions about central magistrates and pre-trial release,” she said.

Many in Tarrant County believe the pre-trial release program here is kept small because of the political power of bail bond companies in local politics. Tarrant County has 90 certified bail bond companies — two to three times the number for counties with similar inmate populations. Harris County, by comparison, has nearly three times the number of inmates in its county jail system and about 100 bail bond companies.

Mark Daniel thinks the bail bond companies have put the pressure on the county commissioners to limit the pre-trial release program because it taps into their business. “You should ask Commissioner J. D. Johnson why the Tarrant County PreTrial Services is not allowed to put up signs in the Fort Worth booking facility,” the attorney said. “Johnson has opposed putting up those signs and actually said it was just a holding facility and ‘you can’t interview folks in the back of a police car.’”

Those arrested by Fort Worth police usually spend six to eight hours at the city’s booking facility at 350 W. Belknap St. before being transferred to the Mansfield jail that is under contract to house Fort Worth prisoners. Pre-trial staffers have to wait until inmates get to Mansfield before they’re allowed to contact them — not because of any city prohibition (Fort Worth police have said they’d welcome them downtown), but because of the commissioners’ rule.

The commissioners will not allow TCPS workers nor signs in the holding cells. “I’ve been a strong proponent of pre- trial release program,” Johnson said. “But the Fort Worth jail is in Mansfield, and that’s where we do the pre-trial services program. When we take prisoners in there, we try to look at every prisoner who is eligible and work those cases. That is a good system.” Johnson said he “had a question as to whether we could legally put pre-trial release in the holding facility” where private bail bondsmen are not allowed to post advertisements.

Maenius, the county administrator, said Tarrant has requested an opinion from the Texas attorney general’s office as to whether TCPS can work the booking facility downtown. “There are laws that govern where commercial bondsmen can have their signs and contacts in jail, but it is a gray area on these pre-trial services programs,” he said “There are legal arguments for both sides ... . Other counties do it in the initial booking facility, but just because other counties do it doesn’t make it legal. We hope to have this resolved by the spring.”

Johnson said the accusation that bond companies are putting pressure on the judges and commissioners to limit the pretrial services program is false. “The defense lawyers always want lower bonds so their clients have more money to pay them,” Johnson said. “The bond companies want higher bonds because they can make more money. It’s really one business interest going against another. Our job is to keep the balance and keep things fair for those charged with a crime in this county.

“The taxpayers benefit from the private bond companies because [the bonding agents] make people show up for court,” Johnson continued. “And if they don’t show up, we keep the forfeiture.”

But one judge who didn’t want his name used said the power of the bond business is a major part of the problem. “When you are running for office here, and you are perceived as someone who either wants bond reduction or more personal recognizance releases, the bond companies come up with money and force against you,” he said.

“But we need to have a lot of programs that allow people out without bail,” the judge continued. “If we have a DUI case, maybe we can have that person enroll in an alcohol prevention program before they come to trial. That can be part of the pre-trial services release at a low cost. We can have lower-level personal cash bonds — maybe $100 to $250 for a misdemeanor — that the defendants get back when they go to trial. How it works now is that a defendant has to come up with a large amount of bond money to get out, and that is the only thing on their mind at that time. We’re causing hardships for people who don’t deserve it, overcrowding the jails, and the only people making money off this are the bonding agents.”

Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer Pete Gilfeather has a different take on the TCPS program. “It’s been my experience with the clients I’ve represented that the ones who have used the personal bond are usually a lot more wealthy that the ones who have to post higher surety bonds,” he said.

That happens in part because inmates who quickly get legal counsel usually find out from the lawyer about the program. Poorer inmates, on the other hand, may not get a lawyer appointed until their first jail hearing, three to five days after the arrest. One group knows they have the option, the other group usually doesn’t.

That’s part of the beef that many local bondsmen have with the TCPS. Longtime Tarrant County bond agent Ronnie Long calls it “cream-skimming.” “The bonds that pre-trial services are making are what we call gravy bonds,” said Long, who has been in the business for 28 years. “These are people who can afford to bond out, and the pre-trial services agency concentrates on those cases because they are the easy ones.”

Long and C.E. Watson, another longtime bond agent who sits on the Tarrant County Bail Bond Board, disagree with the idea that a larger pre-trial program would save taxpayers money. In fact, they said, pre-trial release should be curtailed to save taxpayers money. Watson suggested that private bond agents should have the only access to inmates for the first 24 hours, allowing pre-trial services staffers to come in after that to help those who can’t afford the bail bondsmen’s help.

“If you increase the pre-trial releases, you increase the number of people who have to have warrants issued for them if they are no-shows,” Watson said. “Warrant officers have to go out and look for them, and there is a public cost. But if our people don’t show, we go out and find them, because we have a financial motive. Pretrial services doesn’t have that motive.”

Both men also question the 4.5 percent figure of no-shows for defendants on the pre-trial release program, which the county’s consultants reported. A recent study in California found that those out on a personal recognizance bond were 60 percent more likely to fail to appear for a scheduled court hearing than those with private surety bonds.

“We don’t want to get rid of pre-trial release,” Long said. “But we want it to be more effective. There should be a cost to a crime, and paying that cost through bonds ensures that these people show up. Just because you’re arrested, it doesn’t mean you should be getting out with a free bond and a free lawyer.”

Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder said that the Tarrant County court system has the highest clearance rate and the smallest backlog among the urban counties in Texas. “We are doing the best job in the state of moving cases through,” Wilder said. He also pointed out that private bond forfeitures contributed about $2 million last year to the county general fund. Those who fail to appear on the pretrial release program generate no money for the county and cost taxpayer money when they have to be hunted down, Wilder said.

“This is an example where private companies can do a better job than a public program,” he said. “We need pre-trial services for some defendants. Who stays in jail should not be the luck of the draw, and we need to make sure that is the way we do justice here. But pre-trial releases are used in 16 percent of the cases, and that is about the right balance. It is not used more because people are not trying to use it. It’s just that we make it so only certain people qualify. And that is the way it should be.”

The issue may become part of the jail debate in commissioners court in the next few months. Many lawyers and judges want to expand pre-trial services, while the bondsmen want to shrink it, or at least keep it as is. The local bond association sees this as such a serious issue that they have hired former Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis to lobby on their behalf in Tarrant County.

Judge Coffey likens the criminal booking process to a hospital emergency room. “If you have one person with a cut finger and another patient suffering from a serious heart attack, the hospital treats them very differently,” Coffey said. “The person with the cut finger gets a bandage and instructions for follow-up care and is sent home. The heart attack patient has to stay in the hospital for his own good.

“So many times in our court system here, we are treating the inmates with minor charges very similarly to the ones with serious charges,” he said. “We have to get better at doing criminal justice triage. I am not for letting serious offenders out. But I am pro-taxpayer on this one. Because of the way this system works right now, we have people being confined to the jail — some for just a few days, others for weeks and months — who are not dangerous and pose no threat to the community. These people show up at a very high rate for their court appearances. We have new ways to monitor them. We need to make the system work, so that people who do not need to be confined are not.”

There are no doubt cases in which prisoners have been released who shouldn’t have been — but the serious cases are more likely to be persons who used a bond company, rather than those who’ve qualified for the county program. The most egregious case locally in recent years was probably that of Christy Radacy, the Fort Worth woman accused of dumping her children on the Jacksboro Highway two years ago. Charged with child endangerment, she arranged for a bond company — not the pre-trial release program — to pay her bail, then fled to Europe. A year later, the bondsman helped bring her back, and she pleaded guilty. But the judge let her out on bond again, this time via the county program, and she fled the country once more.

The failure-to-appear rate for pre-trial release is much lower than for surety bonds — about 4.5 percent versus 16 percent. Granted, the higher risk defendants, by design, are those who have to go through a bail bond company and don’t qualify for the county program. But the TCPS director and others — including the consultants who did the $32,000 study for the commissioners — believe the program could be expanded without putting any more violent offenders on the street.

In addition to creation of the central magistrate system and removal of most bond-setting duties from municipal judges, the National Center for State Courts consultants recommended expanding the pre-trial release program and moving responsibility for its oversight from commissioners to the judges.

But they also pointed out the political nature of the decision. If Tarrant County’s only goal regarding pre-trial release is “fiscal concerns,” the consultants wrote, “then clearly PreTrial Services should be abolished and the county should rely exclusively on private bonding agents.” If that were the case, they said, “then all government agencies, including law enforcement, courts, and jails, would be expected to be revenue-generating, or privately run entities.” But, the consultant said, most of those involved told them that the primary goal of the pre-trial release system is not money, but “a fair administration of justice.”

“If ... the prevailing philosophy of Tarrant County officials is that release on a personal bond is a judicial decision and should always be the first available option for release,” the report continued, “then PreTrial Services staff should review each detained person as early as possible to provide the most reliable information to the court from which to make a determination regarding their eligibility for release on a personal bond.”

TCPS workers say that early review is stymied now by staffing limits, strict qualification rules, and the rule denying them access to the Fort Worth booking area. What the county commissioners will be deciding in coming months is whether the cost of TCPS program is offset by the savings in getting low-level inmates out of jail more quickly.

It’s breakfast time at Cold Springs — about 5 a.m., bad grits and some meat that appears to be a sausage patty. Because I am a trusty, I awoke at 3:30 a.m. to serve breakfast to the jail guards and the rest of the inmates. The guards’ food appeared to be real; ours wasn’t. It is not much fun serving your jailers, but it gets you out of the lockup for a few hours.

After breakfast is tv time — as always. On one of the cable channels is a Three Stooges episode called Idiots Deluxe. Moe is on trial for trying to stab Curly, but the judge throws the case out on a technicality. Outside the court, Moe is still mad and tries to stab Curly again. Very appropriate moral for folks in orange jail jumpsuits: Let a guy out, and he might do it again.

The question of the need for more and more jail cells and higher jail costs is being dealt with by communities all over the country. And the public is continually being told that putting — or keeping — more people in jail equates directly to more public safety.

Supporters of the pre-trial release system believe that’s not always true. And they believe there’s another concern: how to keep non-violent, low-level criminals from spending weeks in jail, while their jobs, their ability to pay taxes, and their potential contributions to the community suffer. Right now in Tarrant County, TCPS is in a sort of limbo, able to help a few, but restricted enough that it can’t make much of a dent in the jail population.

People like Mark Daniel and Daryl Coffey think another factor ought to be added to the “balance” act that county officials talk about — balancing equitable punishment and taxpayer costs along with the ability of bail bond companies to make a profit. They say the county needs to look further into the real costs of confinement and ways to reduce those costs.

After the Three Stooges show, I ask my fellow inmates if I can turn on the morning news, but the orange jumpsuit gang responds by yelling and throwing trash at me. “If you want to know what is going on in the outside world,” one guy yelled at me, “then post your bond and get out of here.”

Only one problem with that. Many can’t get to the outside world because they can’t post a bond. So they watch the Stooges and eat bad food — on your tab.

You can reach Dan McGraw at dan.mcgraw@fwweekly.com.

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