Madera Jail (Madera County Department of Corrections)

The Madera Jail is located in the Central Valley of California, a large, flat region that produces much of the state’s agricultural produce. In early 2014, the newly renovated facility expanded its population to more than 560 inmates. The jail is supervised by the Madera County Department of Corrections, which handles all types of criminal cases, including infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. The categories are based on the punishment that the guilty person will face. They include:

* Infraction. Such behaviors as not wearing a seatbelt or running a red light are
not considered “criminal” and they do not carry any jail time. However, they can
under some circumstances mean a point on a person’s driving record.
* Misdemeanor. This can be charged for such offenses as petty theft, drunk driving,
or driving with a suspended license. The punishment can be a fine, up to a maximum
of $1,000, or jail time in a county jail instead of a state penitentiary. Jail time
is no longer than one year.
* Felony. This is the most serious charge, which may be murder, rape, or robbery.
The sentence for a felony may include life imprisonment or death.

In addition to these charges, the Madera County Department of Corrections handles bail bonds, which are written guarantees that the accused person will appear in court at the stipulated time. The bail bondsman pledges the bond money, which is known as a surety bond. That is the guarantee. The bondsman usually charges about 10 percent of the total bail amount for this service, and it is non-refundable. The charges for this type of service are set by the California Department of Insurance, and the bond is good for one year. If the charged person does not show up in court at the specified time, an arrest warrant will be posted and the bail money is forfeited. If the person cannot be located, a so-called bounty hunter may be sent to find and arrest him or her. Court costs rise as the search time goes on.

Bail bondsmen represent the most common way to get out of jail. There are also three other methods for jail release. The total amount of the bond, known as a cash bond, may be given to the court in cash as a release. For those who are judged to be a slight risk, such as a first-time offender with no criminal record, an O.R., release on own recognizance, may be posted. In addition, there is the Cite Out, a citation that works much like a traffic ticket. The person charged is given a ticket but never goes to jail. He or she, however, does have to appear in court at the specified time.

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