Dude, Where’s My Client?


The last time I visited with Oscar he had decided to plead guilty. Yesterday I went to see him again to tell him that the plea was set for Friday, and to explain how the plea would transpire.

At the detention center, a Bureau-of-Prisons-run facility, I filled out the usual paperwork and handed it over along with my driver’s license and bar card. The lady behind the bulletproof glass compared my client’s name to the list of inmates in the jail. He wasn’t on the list. I could see that he wasn’t on the alphabetized list. She looked at the list again. “Does he have another name that he goes by?” No, I’ve visited him before under that name. That’s the name you had for him.

She consulted with another guard behind the bulletproof glass. She compared Oscar’s name to the alphabetized list — it wasn’t there — and to another version of the list — not there either. She called someone. I sat down to wait. A couple of minutes later, we had an answer: “He’s been released. He was released on September 7.” Released? “Released, September 7.”

The Federal Detention Center, where Oscar was being held, was built to keep bad guys in. You don’t just walk out of the FDC unless they let you out. And Oscar had pending federal charges, no bond, and a trial date set. But they released him?

Oscar is charged with committing an offense while he was in custody for another offense. My theory is that BOP records showed that he had served the balance of that sentence on September 7th, and nobody had made an entry in the computer to hold him on the new charge. So when the initial sentence expired, his name popped up on some “to be released” list and he was cut loose.

Not entirely loose, though — he’s supposed to be serving a term of supervised release following his release on the first charge; if he hasn’t already reported to the probation office, he’s probably in violation of his terms of supervised release, and can be imprisoned for that. If he does report to the probation office, though, at some point they’ll figure out that he should be back in custody.

I mentioned that Oscar was charged with committing a new offense while in custody for another; here’s the rest of the story: he had been in a halfway house, where he was permitted to come and go, and he went (to go to a job interview) and never came back. So when he walked away this time, he was walking away from the escape charge that resulted when he walked away the last time.


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