Posting Bail Doesn't Guarantee Immediate Release from Jail

(KHNL) - More people are spending the night in jail these days.  Not because they want to, but because they can't get out.  Even if they can post bail.

It's quieter at night, now at Ace Bail Bonds. Because if someone is arrested and held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center - that's where they'll stay.

"We're unable to do night time and weekend bails," says Mahealani Lee of Ace Bail Bonds.

A change in bail procedure now requires a signature from the person in custody. Which is not a problem at Honolulu Police cellblock, where people under arrest and their paperwork are next to one another.

But sheriffs shut the doors to their Alakea cellblock at 4:30, and the defendants head to OCCC. This puts the paperwork in one place and the people in another.

So that means, even if you have the necessary paperwork and money for bail -- if it's after hours -- you're stuck behind bars.

Before, bail bonds could be taken to sheriffs any time of the day.  They would write a receipt, and that was all that was needed to get a suspect out of OCCC, even at night or on the weekends.

Now it could be days before a person with bail is released. A long weekend, could stretch even longer this Memorial day.

"During the three day holiday weekend, everyone won't be able to get out until Tuesday, when the court is open," says Lee.

Some have questioned the legality of making people wait to be released. But the Hawaii laws only state that when bail is offered and taken, the prisoner shall be discharged from custody.

It doesn't say how quickly that has to happen.

Why is a signature now required to get bail? KHNL has been told it is so those in custody and others posting cash will know they will lose the money if the defendant doesn't show up in court.