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Interview with Bill, Rochelle, Joyce, Mikey, Eric, Kirk, Janelle and Claudia

JM: Tell us about the pre-sentencing process:
Bill: Court Dates regularly spaced 20 to 30 days apart. You will have several "plea agreements" presented each time you go to court. Duval County has a regular practice of attempting to have you sign a "near-maximum" sentence agreement (example: 4 year prison sentence on a charge that carries a maximum of 5 years)
Rochelle: I went to court and I plead guilty. They set me a new court date I return and was sentenced.
Joyce: I was there for approximately 3 weeks. I had a court hearing the day after I turned myself in and was released but was held for extradition. I was there twice. The second time I was there I was incarerated for approximately 10 days and during that time I was sent to the pea farm.
Mikey: go in through intake get searched then you get your inmate clothes then you get sat in a cell until your called up for finger printing and mugshots then you wait for med check and case worker i think they check you for teburculosis and any other airborne or comunicable pathogensthen you get a bed roll and indegint kit and your sell asignment and thats it
Eric: I've been arrested and incarcerated for at least one night and/or day in Duval County approximately 20 times. There was no pre-sentencing investigation in at least some of these arrests and incarcerations. I feel certain that there was a pre-sentence investigation related to some of my arrests, but the state of Florida didn't share any information regarding the process, including any information discovered.
Kirk: I spent three weeks from the time that I was first arrested until the time the I went back before the judge to be arraigned and then was postponed another two weeks because the states attorney wanted to make an offer to my co defendant before they offered one to me.
Janelle: I only made it to first appearance, if this is what you mean by pre sentencing. I went before a judge, whereas they looked at my juvinile record because I didn't have an adult record, And decided my bond, and my next court date, based upon that. It was scheduled for two weeks later.
Claudia: I retained private counsel and we negotiated for a very long time. I didn't see the entire court proceeding because the judge called up private counsel first. The court room was orderly, but busy. The prosecutor was nice, but stern. It was his supervisor who did not want probation, so it took a long time for me to become adjusted to going to prison.

JM: Did you have police stop by your house for questioning? If not please give us details on how you came to be arrested.
Bill: No
Rochelle: No
Joyce: I found out that there was a warrant out on me for issuing worthless checks and I turned myself in. I was sent a letter by the clerk of court about the check charge and I contacted a bondsman to arrange my release before I turned myself in to authorities.
Mikey: well i had gotten drunk the yr before on st patricks day i was riding a bike back to my house and a guy struck me with his vehichle not hard so then we got into an altercation at wich point the cops showed up about 5 minutes later and gave me a sobriaty test i failed was given a dui on a bike and went to jail then i fought it in court and got it droped to a drunken disorderly but still got comunnity service wich i didnt do so they issued a warrent for me then i had to speak with the cops earlier this yr and they picked me up
Eric: On only one occasion did the police stop by my residence to visit with me, and the purpose of that visit was to arrest me on a warrant for a $52 worthless check. It seems that before I had relocated from Jacksonville Beach to Jacksonville, I had made an error when balancing my checkbook before closing the account. I had notified that bank in Jacksonville Beach of my new address and telephone number but never heard anything from them at all. About 6 months after relocating, three officers (two in plain clothes; one in uniform) knocked on my apartment door at approximately 3:40 A.M.. When I opened the door, they confirmed my identity by asking if this was my name. I answered yes and asked why they were there at such a strange hour. One of the detectives stated they had an outstanding warrant for my arrest. I asked what the charges were and he simply said "worthless check". I asked for more information about the check and he said I'd find out in court. I asked why it required two detectives and one patrolman to serve the warrant. They answered that they had difficulty in finding me and that they had been advised to use caution in approaching me. Since I have never owned a gun and have not hit anyone with anything since a fistfight in 9th grade, I laughed! I then told them "I'm in the phone book. I have electrical and telephone service in my name. The banks I've dealt with all know where I live. Did you try any of those sources?" They said nothing, but they allowed me to put on a shirt and a pair of pants and then handcuffed me. They walked me to a waiting car and delivered me to the Duval County Jail for processing. All my other visits to that jail, with one exception, were the result of either using drugs or drinking too much alcohol; I was intoxicated. Once I was arrested while sitting on a curb, trying to sober up before driving home. I was again charged with disorderly intoxication. The one other arrest when I wasn't intoxicated was at a convenience store. I was arrested because someone had told them that I had drugs in my car. I was questioned by two patrolmen as I exited the store with a Pepsi. They told me they had information that I had drugs in my car. I denied it. They said they KNEW I had drugs in my car, and that if I surrendered them voluntarily they would not take me to jail. I was bewildered. Then I remembered I had a few of 2 different prescription pills from years earlier which I had in an aspirin bottle in the back of the glove box! I pulled out all the junk from the glove box and finally found the aspirin bottle. Inside were 2 different controlled substances. I had about 10 or 15 each of Quaalude and Fastin. In my earlier years I had taken them recreationally. When I stopped using them due to work reasons I had simply saved the remaining pills "just in case" and threw them all in one container for convenience, placing them in the glove box and promptly forgetting all about them! After surrendering the aspirin bottle to one of the policemen they did arrest me for possession of a controlled substance and took me to jail. The other arrest when I was not behind the wheel was when I had passed out in the front yard of an acquaintance. I was charged with Disorderly Intoxication. All the other arrests were while driving under the influence; the charge was "suspicion of DUI". I was convicted twice.
Kirk: No one came by my house though I had an officer come by my job to question me about the charges. I told the officer the details and he left, Approximatley two weeks later I had two detectives come to my job and serve me with a warrant for my arrest.
Janelle: No. I was given a check by a friend and asked to cash it with specific directions. I did not follow the directions because I didn't know it was fraudulent. I was arrested at the store, and brought in for questioning. I was then arrested, then became a witness for the state.
Claudia: There was a warrant issued because I lived in Ca. at the time the incident was reported. I flew home to take care of it. I was driving down the street one morning and the police couldn't see the tag on the car and stopped me. There was no incident. I was taken to the detective, but I didn't talk.

JM: What was court like? Please give as many details as you recall.
Bill: Van transportation takes 12 inmates each to holding cells at court house. At court house, there is large holding cell for about 150 inmates. Often it is very loud, each inmate is called out one at a time for court appearance.
Rochelle: Scary, and it made me very sad.
Joyce: It was quick and I actually knew before the judge spoke what my outcome would be. Most of us were told if we would be released,held or the court date passed to another time. We were informed of this before the judge came out of chambers. We were required to watch a film that clafied what was told to us.
Mikey: well first they stuff you in a room with about 40 other men til court is in session then you go in and have to watch a pretrial education video that last a good 20 minutes after that the ballifs shut you up and the judge comes in they usually handle mistomeners first the felonies and thats about it you get araigned and sent back to your cell
Eric: Court was somewhat like a cattle call; very impersonal and fast. About 10 inmates were admitted to the courtroon at a time and were called up to face the judge one by one. I alwys showed high respect for the court and spoke in a firn, clear voice. I always included "Sir", Ma'am" and/or "Your Honor" in any statement, question or answer.
Kirk: Court was actually a pretty good ordeal for me. Judge Bass was very kind and respectful to everyone who came into her courtroom. Even after sentencing she allowed me to have twoo weeks to take care of my family before I was to report and finish serving out the rest of my sentence.
Janelle: Initially I was bonded out, and my first court appearance took months to come about. They kept pushing it back, and once it finally came, I just stood before the judge, and plead guilty so that they could give me a lesser charge, of adjudication with held. It was a long process.
Claudia: It was ok until the sentencing hearing. I didn't appear until trial was set and we kept postponing it. When I did appear, persons with private counsel went first, so I didn't see a lot of court. There were many accused people who clearly had mental issues that should have not been sentenced to jail. My lawyer didn't tell me I could have had witnesses at my sentencing hearing.

JM: What were your original charges? What did you end up being convicted of?
Joyce: Issuing worthless checks less than $500.
Mikey: origanal charge was dui on a bicycle it was dropped to drunken disorderly
Eric: We'll use the arrest outside the convenience store for this question. I was initially charged with 2 counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. I was told by my court appointed Public Defender that with my arrest record, I was looking at a minimum of 2 years and more likely 5. I decided I didn't think I could handle that, and I knew I didn't deserve it. I skipped bail, but made sure the Bondsman was paid. After evading the court by leaving the state and changing my name, I returned 6 years later. After I returned, I called the detective who had questioned my family about me and explained why I had skipped. I explained that I had become a Christian and had turned my life around since the arrest occured. I pointed out that for 6 years I hadn't had as much as a parking ticket. I told him I simply don't belong in prison! Then I offered to give myself up on the condition I would receive no prison time. He agreed. I was convicted but received a sentence of 18 months of Community Control. Roughly halfway through that sentence I was placed on simple probation instead. I completed it satisfactorily.
Kirk: Employee Theft/Grand Theft Dealing in stolen property I was convicted of Grand Theft
Janelle: Uttering a forged bill. It was an adjudication withheld.
Claudia: Four counts. 2 counts of identity theft of 10 people or over $5000 and 2 counts of defrauding a financial institution.

Read about sentencing in the Duval County Jail

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