Are Phone Calls from Jail Private?

By Peek & Toland on July 5, 2019

While counties handle incoming and outgoing calls from jail inmates differently, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice publicly advises all participants in phone calls with prisoners that they may monitor and record all phone calls. Most jail phone calls start with an immediate warning that law enforcement may monitor or record their conversations. The only exceptions to this general rule are for those conversations between inmates and lawyers, which are subject to the attorney-client privilege. As a result, prisons and jails may not record privileged telephone conversations, as doing so is a violation of inmates’ 6th Amendment rights.

In recent years, many jails have come under fire for automatically recording inmate phone calls, including those with defense attorneys. Before the automation of these recordings, jail officers could manually disconnect the recording system when the attorney-client privilege was at issue. With technological advances, however, the recording systems automatically exclude specific numbers in a database of lawyers. When inmates spoke with lawyers whose numbers weren’t in the database, however, some jails have recorded these conversations improperly, including in Dallas.

Are Phone Calls From Jail Private?

The bottom line is that you never should assume that your phone call with jail or prison inmates, regardless of what party initiated the phone call, is private or confidential. In most cases, there is a very high probability that either law enforcement authorities actively are monitoring calls or are recording them for further review. As such, individuals should avoid any conversation that relates to criminal charges or any aspect of the criminal case. Otherwise, you risk giving law enforcement authorities evidence to use against you in your case or evidence supporting new or additional criminal charges against you. Our Texas criminal defense lawyers are here to offer you the experienced legal representation and advice that you need to resolve your criminal law matter. We can act as your guide through the criminal justice system to obtain the relief that you are seeking. Call our office today and learn about the type of assistance we can offer you.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Texas Jail is Accused of Keeping Inmates Imprisoned Due to Poverty

By Peek & Toland on August 4, 2016

The Harris County Jail in Houston is the largest in Texas and the third largest in the country. A recent report suggests its population is over-inflated because it’s jailing people who are in a poverty trap.

A recent article in Think Progress makes for alarming reading. It details how the jail is the subject of a lawsuit brought by individuals who claim it is detaining people who are too poor to pay bail without bothering to assess whether they can afford it.

Poverty is keeping prisoners incarcerated in Houston

Poverty is keeping prisoners incarcerated in Houston

As Texas criminal defense attorneys who work hard for the jail release of our clients, we are alarmed to read about these potentially unconstitutional practices.

One of the inmates who filed a lawsuit against Harris County Jail is Maranda Lynn O’Donnell. Her crime was of a minor nature.  She was arrested for allegedly driving with an invalid license a few months ago. She said that arrest led her to be incarcerated for two days at the jail, removing her from her four-year-old daughter and her new job at a restaurant.

She would have been able to leave the jail immediately if she had more money. As it was, her poverty kept her behind bars, reported Think Progress. This was not an isolated case.

Poverty and the Harris County Jail

The article also cited the case of 26-year-old Robert Ryan Ford, a young man with no job and no bank account who was told he had to pay $5,000 to get out following his arrest on May 18.

The Think Progress article said as many as 77 percent of inmates are in the jail because they can’t afford to pay bail of $5,000 or even less. Alarmingly, in the six years from 2009 to 2015, 55 people died in the Harris County Jail because they could not afford bail.

Often those who remain inside have not considered hiring a bail bond lawyer. However, an attorney can be a key figure in securing your release.

Securing bail depends on factors including the severity of the crime, safety of victims and the community, and the ability of the accused to make the bail. It seems that defendants who are accused of relatively minor crimes and are not a danger to the public are being held for unacceptably long periods in the Harris County Jail.

If you are seeking a bail bond attorney in Houston, Austin or elsewhere in Texas, you should contact us today for a consultation.

Posted in Jail Release

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