Bail Bond Agents Left in Tricky Situation After ICE Picks Up Suspects Released from Jail

SACRAMENTO -- Don't think of the Sacramento County Jail as just a place people go when they've been arrested. It's also a place where people go to be arrested.

Of the 400,000 people detained each year by ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, many of them are picked up here, already behind bars, in local jails.

But ICE usually waits until those people are about to be released, and Thursday that led to a tricky situation for one bail bondsman.

"In this situation, we posted a bond, but once people are due to be released, that's when they came and got him. But basically since he switched custody, we don't just get our money back," said Chris Gandy with Aladdin Bail Bonds.

And that leaves bail bondsmen like Gandy holding the bag. Literally -- Gandy has the property bag for a man he was trying to bail out. That man just went right back into custody, except this time, it's federal custody.

Now, if the inmate is eventually deported, the bail bonds company does get their money back. The problem is, they have to go to court. And they have to subpoena the records of the deportation from ICE and all of that takes a lot of time and costs money.

For Gandy, this is the third or fourth time it has happened this month.

For victims, it can mean a criminal who hurt them never faces justice in an American courtroom. And for the family members, or the inmates themselves, who've gotten together the cash to pay for the bail, that's all wasted -- because at the end of the day, the inmate just winds up in a different cell.

"It sucks when somebody puts up money and they're expecting a family member to get out, and it's like 'actually no,'" Gandy said.

So that makes immigration status an important factor in whether a bail bond agent is willing to help an inmate get out at all.

Once the inmate is in ICE detention, they can get bailed out there too. But it's a whole separate process. So they have to come up with another bundle of cash, for another bail, to be released from ICE custody if they're eligible.