Inside Jail

Feb 18, 2011 8:53 PM by John Reger

Friday Night Booking at SLO County Jail

It's another Friday night at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, and the dance with people under arrest has begun. It starts at the sally port where a loudspeaker announces whether the next guest is male or female. Already in handcuffs, the arrestee is escorted to the intake area.

"We get everybody in here," said Correctional Sergeant Denise Lang. " "Everybody who commits a crime in this county comes through these doors."

If a person is picked up for alleged public intoxication and they're too drunk to communicate with, they're brought directly to a padded detoxification cell to sleep it off.

Otherwise, they head to the pre-booking room where they're uncuffed and searched for weapons or contraband. All personal items are listed on a property sheet. When the arrestee signs off on the list, everything goes into a blue bag and locked in the inventory room.

Fresh arrests come in all night long, about 40 on a typical Friday night to Saturday morning shift.

If the arrestee has tattoos, they're checked for gang affiliation during the search. Then a Deputy conducts an extensive medical questionnaire before the arrestee is brought to the camera room for a mug shot that's inputted into the jail's computer system. After that: high-tech fingerprinting.

The alleged crime is filed with the civilian booking staff who check for prior criminal records. If the arrestee is allowed to sign a citation to appear in court or allowed bail, he goes into a holding cell to be released later. But serious charges or outstanding warrants mean real jail time, and a trip to the dress-out room for jail clothing. Afterward, the arrestee the man goes into a holding cell until he can be moved to the jail.

For their own safety and that of others, anyone suspected of being intoxicated can't be released until four hours after arriving. When they sober up they can use a phone to call for a bail bondsman or a ride home.

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