Generally speaking, I am no fan of jails and prisons. Today, I have nothing but good things to say about the Kennebec County Jail. 

A client of mine pled yesterday and received a time-served jail sentence. The idea was that he had already served the time for his criminal charge and related probation violation, so he would be released that afternoon.

This morning I came in to the office and listened to a panicky message from the client's mother. She said the jail told her son he had to serve an additional 45 days because he hadn't been held on the criminal charge, only the probation charge. So even though the conduct was the same, from the same incident on the same day, and even though the client sat in jail for more than a month, the two separate cases were treated differently by the jail.

And because the jail wasn't holding him on the criminal charge, he had no time-served on that charge. And he was told he still had to sit in jail for those 45 days.

Unfortunately, this sort of mistake happens all the time. Everyone figures that he was arrested and held on the two things he shows up at court to resolve. Only when it is too late does the reality of how the jail views things come to light. And at that point I need to contact the DA, contact the court, file a motion, get a hearing date, and sort things out.

Today I started by calling the jail to make sure I properly understood the story. The Classifications Officer I spoke with could not have been more helpful and friendly. She suggested that I email her copies of the Complaint and the Probation Revocation Motion. If the charges and the conduct arose from the same incident, she said, the jail would retroactively apply credit for the time my client had served. And release him today. This never happened before: so easy, so logical, so sensible, so humane.

Client gets released. Justice is served. Bureaucracy is kept at bay. Thank you Kennebec County Jail Classifications Officer!

AuthorJonathan Handelman