How are people extradited in the US
March 4, 2012 2:14 PM   Subscribe

A good friend may be extradited from Colorado to Arkansas. What should he be expecting?

He is being held on a felony warrant out of arkansas for a drug crime. It is a state warrant, not a federal warrant. He is not sure whether to waive extradition but his family is consulting with a lawyer about that. His bond is too high and he's burned so many bridges that no one is willing too help him out (and rightfully so in my opinion but thats another issue) so he will not be able to get out on bond and then report himself, everyone knows he would not do it.

What I am interested in mainly is the how he will get from Colorado to Arkansas and what all that entails.
posted by Subterranean Homesick Pygmalion to Law & Government (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't answer the question of how he gets transported. Waiving extradition means you are waiving a hearing to determine whether you are actually the person wanted by the other state. That's the only issue at the hearing.

Sometimes, in my experience, the state where the warrant is outstanding doesn't want to come get the person, in which case they are released.
posted by jayder at 2:26 PM on March 4, 2012

In Vermont the way extradition works is that someone goes down and gets you (has to happen within a certain time frame, I am not certain how this part works) and you have a long uncomfortable car ride [sometimes bus/plane but often car] back to Vermont with a policeman or two. Depending on your flight risk you may be in handcuffs and have someone follow you to the bathroom etc. Obviously your lawyer will advice your friend on the legal issues but for the person I have known who was extradited, there were concerns that because he needed to be "brought in" he was more of a flight risk for the purposes of setting bail. Check with a professional but keep that sort of thing in mind.
posted by jessamyn at 2:26 PM on March 4, 2012

Hello there and I am sorry you are in a position to be asking this question, but I have been extradited and I can give you, I think, a pretty accurate description of what your friend has in store.

I was arrested on a fugitive warrant almost two years ago and extradited from Dallas, TX to Bowling Green, KY. I had committed a crime (check fraud/theft of services) some years back when I got myself involved with a dumbass scheme, the goal of which was to get money to buy my drug of choice at the time, which was meth. I did meth for years and decided to get clean and, as part of that, I went to jail to stay for a couple of weeks to pay off some tickets. On the day I was set to leave, I was told that I was being detained on the fugitive warrant from KY. I was granted an extradition hearing, which I waived. I can’t say whether or not your friend should waive the hearing and IANAL, but, from what I understand, the requesting state only needs to prove that the person has ever been in that state for the extradition to be granted. But that’s an issue for a lawyer, let me get to the point of your question.

First of all, the state that is requesting someone be extradited has x number of days to actually show up and pick the inmate up, it varies by state. Here is what your friend and his friends and family need to know: THE REQUESTING STATE WILL COME PICK HIM UP. Always everytime. If they have gone to the trouble of issuing a fugitive warrant and confirmed the warrant, they are coming. When they come, you don’t get to take anything with you that won’t fit inside your standard manila legal size envelope (only it won’t be manila, it will be clear). Basically you can bring legal paperwork and pictures. So unless you (I’ve switched to second person here, it’s easier to tell it this way) have expendable income, do not spend a bunch of money on commissary while you are waiting for them to come get you. Also, when they come, you won’t get a chance to make a phone call. Make sure that you let someone in your cell or pod know the number of someone you want them to call and means to pay for that call so that they can let your family/friends know. When you are picked up is when the nightmare begins.

I was picked up at 6pm on a Friday night in Dallas. I was shackled with handcuffs (which were connected to a chain around my waist) and leg cuffs with a chain connecting my hand cuffs to my leg cuffs for limited mobility. I was then put into the back of the extradition vehicle with eleven other grown men and my hand and leg cuffs were connected to the hand and leg cuffs of both guys on either side of me. We were seated on a wooden bench six per side facing each other.

The truck looked like an animal control truck. There was a separate cab in front of ours that had some female inmates in it and another cab in front of that that was the sleeping cab for the driver. There were three drivers who rotated driving and sleeping. Three was important because they aren’t supposed to drive for more than eight hours at a time and with three they don’t have to stop. Supposedly they are supposed to stop every 48 hours and all of the people being transported are supposed to spend the night in a jail somewhere along the path, but as I will get to, that does not always happen. The trucks air conditioner either did not work or they just wouldn’t turn it on, I’m not sure which, but it was never on and there was no ventilation in the back of the truck.

So I left Dallas about 6pm Friday night and arrived in Bowling Green, KY the following Tuesday morning at about 4:30am. This is the story of the worst 82.5 hours of my life.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. 12 guys who have been cooped up in the back of this fucking truck for hours and days with no showers and no way to perform even the most basic personal hygiene (more on that later). It was just awful. I almost vomited. So I got in and I am a big guy so I was really cramped because I was in the middle of and chained up to two other pretty big guys. There is no personal space involved. I would bet that the benches we were sitting on were designed for four people, and we were six to a side plus we are right up against the dudes on the other side so that our legs looked like a zipper. Just think a busy subway and then think worse because not only are you wedged in, but you can barely move your arms or legs because you are chained so tight. As soon as we were off and rolling people start asking where I’m going, what I did, etc and they say “oh Bowling Green we should be there in about 3 days” and I’m thinking whatever, it’s a 12 hour drive from here. I’m a quiet guy so I didn’t say much and just kind of went with it. Our first stop was for food. JACK IN THE BOX!! I was like man this won’t be too bad, after two bologna sandwiches and a pack of Ramen every day a burger will be nice. And maybe it would have been, but my hands were attached so tightly to the waist chain that I could not raise them up high enough to my mouth to take a bite of the fucking burger. Some of the other guys (the taller ones) had the same problem, but what they did was have the guy sitting across from them hold the burger and they would lean forward and bite it, though it looked like they were all in their blowing each other. No doubt that’s why they shackled us like that, to be more degrading. I kind of started to hand the burger to the guy across from me so I could eat it out of his fucking crotch basically and he said “if you hand that to me I’m gonna eat it” and I thought he was fucking with me. He wasn’t.

So from Dallas we went south to the women’s prison in Gatesville to drop off the two women than we went to Austin and to San Marcos TX to drop off and pick up more guys. It always worked so that there were twelve of us, maybe once there was only eleven. By the time we got to Austin I really had to pee but the guys said, oh we peed in Dallas before you got on we won’t get to pee again until the morning. We went on to San Antonio but we were two hours early to pick up the prisoners there so the guards drove up and down the river walk and then to the Alamo where they got out and took pictures of each other. This was at like 4am. At 6am we got to the San Antonio jail and we got to get out to pee. Except that we had to stay chained together when we peed. Which was not easy to do. I asked one of the other guys, what if we have to take a shit and he said no one takes a shit on this thing. So we get back in and go to get breakfast at Sonic which was ok now because I had a new guy across from me who also couldn’t reach the food to his mouth so he had to feed me if he wanted to eat. We fed each other our breakfast burritos. Then to Brownsboro TX then to Nacogdoches TX then to Houston to Huntsville and back to Houston.

It was Saturday evening by then and we got our second bathroom break of the day in a Houston PD holding cell. DO NOT GET ARRESTED IN HOUSTON. In the Houston holding cells there are no toilets. Just a rectangular shaped whole on the ground about 2’ by 1’ with a 3-bar grate across it. That was for pissing and shitting. The guy on my left had to shit. He said he just could not go any longer. So, while still attached to people on both sides, he squatted and shat in a hole in the ground with a 3-bar grate on it, no big deal right, a little primitive but it could be worse. It was worse. THEY WOULD NOT UNDO HIS HAND TO WIPE HIS ASS. That’s why “no one shits on this thing.” That is why the food they feed you is a double edged sword. Yes a burger sounds great when you’ve been in jail, but that grease in the burgers and fries makes you need to shit like a normal person, worse even, eating it three times a day.

So, this is how it went. From Huntsville, to Little Rock to New Orleans, to Memphis, to Nashville, to Mobile, to Atlanta, to Tallahasee BACK to New Orleans, up to Fayetteville, BACK to Nashville up to Bowling Green with all manner of stops at small jails in between, 82.5 hours of sitting in the back of a truck the size of a walk in closet with 11 guys who haven’t showered or washed their hands or brushed their teeth or wiped there ass with no ventilation except when they opened the door and the little food slot to give us our laxative burgers. No sleep. Constantly sitting up. People constantly talking. Horrible smells. Leg cramps. Back cramps. Headaches. etc (And I know it could be worse, I know prisoners and detainees are treated far worse by our own government and in places all over the world, and I don’t mean to make light of any of that, this is the only situation like this I have experienced and it sucked). I was told that these companies who do the extraditing (they are not government employees as we were not federal prisoners, they were rent-a-cops) get paid per mile and are paid x amount of dollars per person every time they cross a state line, I don’t know if that was true.

The other bad thing was the people. I don’t mean to sound above anyone because I am not, but being in close quarters like that for such a long time, when sleep is impossible and you are literally eating out of someone’s unwashed filthy hands, everyone got on everyone else’s last nerve. You would have the guy who wouldn’t stop saying he had no idea why he was being extradited and had never done anything wrong. The guy who would not stop bitching and moaning about the cuffs being tight, or the smell, or the A/C not working. The guy who was constantly wanting to know who your favorite rapper was or what your favorite pair of shoes are or “who’s better Elway or Marino” and then tell you why you are wrong. The guy who is crying the whole time. The guy who screams the whole time and cusses and spits at the guards every time they let us out to pee. The guy who won’t stop talking with a Russian accent and making Rocky references because one of the guards is named Ivan. The guy who won’t stop talking about all the crimes he committed and how much of a bad ass he is. And, worst of all the, the guys who won’t shut up about that girl he fucked that time. Every person in there was like a broken record, I am sure I was too. They probably hated me.

When I finally got to Bowling Green I had never been so happy to be in jail. I ended up doing almost four months, It was a breeze after having been extradited. I had also never been so happy to see a toilet. So I don’t know what advice I can give to make it any easier, it’s not any easier. I was told by people being extradited that we had it good compared to other times he was extradited. He may have just been talking shit, I dunno.

One last thing, if you will indulge me one anecdote. There was an older man who was being taken back to prison for not reporting to his parole officer that hardly ever said a word the entire time. He just sat staring out the window, or what you could see of the window through the cage-like door. Somehow the conversation got around to living off the land and killing raccoons for food and shit like that. Well this old guy perked up and started talking about how he had lived out in the woods or whatever for years and so we started just pelting him with questions about how he got food, how he made shelters, what if he got sick, etc, and he answered them and when the conversation turned he didn’t say anything else. Later that day people were talking about how to dispose of a dead body and people were giving all the normal answers you see in movies or read on AskMe and someone mentioned the movie Hannibal and how those pigs would eat an entire body. And someone said to the old man, “what do you thinks best, the pigs?” And he looked over and said “pigs will eat an entire human body, except the teeth.” Then he kind of, popped his dentures out a little and popped em back in and turned and looked back out the window and didn’t say another word. It scared the shit out of me then. It scares the shit out of me now.

Good luck to your friend, sorry I didn’t have better news for you.
posted by holdkris99 at 2:53 PM on March 4, 2012 [128 favorites]

Some of the specifics of the actual travel will depend on the jurisdiction where your friend is wanted. Some jurisdictions have their own police officers come to pick up a fugitive and others use transport companies (the latter situation is I think what holdkris99 described, since companies generally make a lot of pickups at a time). They could fly or drive back to AR--if a company, they'd probably drive.

In my state (NY) we do fugitive pickups directly from court but in most states they will go to the jail facility and extradite from there. The court generally does not let fugitives out on bail because of the flight risk. The standard is usually that the wanting jurisdiction will come to court around 10 days after a fugitive signs a waiver of extradition.

Does your friend have any charges in CO or just the fugitive warrant? I believe if he was arrested for anything other than the fugitive matter, CO has the chance to prosecute him first if they want to.

It is also true in my experience that sometimes fugitive warrants are vacated, but I would say this happens in maybe 2% of the cases I work with. If so, the fugitive, of course, is released as soon as the jail receives the paperwork indicating that they aren't wanted anymore.

Good luck to your friend.
posted by mlle valentine at 4:07 PM on March 4, 2012

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