What Is A Hold In Jail Or Prison?

If your loved one is in jail or prison and has a hold placed, it means another jurisdiction wants him or her brought there before being released for any reason. Typically, the guards or jail administrators will let an inmate know as soon as a hold comes through the system. In some cases it falls through the cracks and notification is only minutes before the inmate is set to walk through the doors to freedom. At that point, the release is halted and the person is taken back to the cell.

Who Can Place a Hold?

Any law enforcement jurisdiction that has charges or warrants pending against an inmate can place a hold. This can mean another county, another state or the even the Feds. In addition, the hold can be prompted by a number of agencies including, Drug Task Force, county sheriff, city police, Immigration or the Feds.

What are the Reasons?

A hold usually means criminal charges that are separate from related to why your inmate is currently incarcerated. For example, an inmate is doing 90 days for drug possession and another county places a hold because he is wanted there for failure to appear on a different matter. Common reasons for holds being placed on inmates include:

  • Probation violation in another county or state
  • Failure to appear in the other county or state
  • New charges out of the other county or state
  • Child support owed in the other county or state
  • Immigration issues from any state
  • Federal charges

What Happens Now?

Most jails and prisons have different rules about how long a hold can keep your inmate locked up before the other county, state or Feds must come and get him or her. The clock starts the day your inmate would have been released. For example, if a county jail has a 45-day hold rule, it means from the day your inmate should have been released, the other jurisdiction has 45 days to come pick up and transport the inmate to the new jurisdiction to face the courts. This timeframe can be extended through a court order. In most cases, if representatives from the other jurisdiction do not come within the specified timeframe, the inmate is released. That doesn’t mean the other jurisdiction has to drop it. There may still be a warrant out, or the person may be asked to self-surrender. It simply means he or she is released from the holding jail.

Bonds and Holds

In some cases when your inmate gets to the new jurisdiction a bond will be set and the regular process continues from there. There are also cases when the inmate gets to the new jurisdiction and is released for time served in the prior county. Sometimes the jurisdiction just lets the clock run out and does not bother to come get the inmate who is ultimately released.

A Word of Caution

If you have an inmate in jail, who has a bond in the one county and a hold from another county, be careful when it comes to paying bail. In many cases, the county jail will happily accept your bond payment and then politely inform you that your inmate still cannot be released because of the hold. Talk to an attorney before making any kind of payments.

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.