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Porterville Substation offers EZ bail option
Posting bail to free an incarcerated inmate from a Tulare County Sheriff’s Department jail or substation is now as simple as a swipe of a credit card — assuming the person has access to 100 percent of the required bail.
The process can be done through an “EZ Kiosk,” a self-service ATM-style machine that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the lobby of the TCSD Porterville substation, 379 N. 3rd St.
“It’s a matter of convenience for the families of people who are incarcerated,” said Lt. Chris Wenzinger who is in charge of the Porterville substation. “They can only do cash bail.”
Cash bail is the full amount set by bail, Wenzinger said, and not the 10 percent normally paid to a bail bonds person or company.
“That’s one thing people sometimes don’t understand. They’ll come with $5,000 and are shocked when they hear they need $50,000,” Wenzinger said. “The other thing this can do is offer a means to provide money to a friend or family member to buy soaps and shampoos of brands not provided by the Sheriff’s office. People no longer have to drive to Visalia for that. Or if they live in the mountains, they can stop here. We don’t have a jail here but this works for anyone in the Tulare County Sheriff jail system.”
Wenzinger said the Porterville substation has had the self-service machine for an approximate 14 months, with several people transferring funds every day.
“It’s simple. All they need is the inmate’s name and identification number or inmate’s name and date of birth. It’s easy to use but if they need help, we have someone here to help,” Wenzinger said. “The offices are secured but the lobby itself is open 24 hours. They can come anytime of the day or night.”
The machine accepts cash, debit or credit cards. It can not be used to retrieve cash.
Installed with zero cost to the jail, the self-service kiosk also saves the TCSO money, since a person is not needed to count and vault the cash as it comes in.
When a credit card is authorized, or the cash has been inserted, the kiosk prints a wallet-sized receipt as proof of the transaction. Real-time reports on a website verify the money load transaction. The funds are guaranteed as soon as they appear on the real-time report. Receipts can also be reprinted by the jail at a later date. And in the case of an online money load, a copy of the receipt is automatically emailed to TCSO, informing them that bail has been paid. The only thing TCSO had to provide was a high-speed internet line and an electrical outlet.
“It’s mainly for people’s convenience. It doesn’t really help us here because we don’t have a jail,” Wenzinger said. “But a lot of the counties and municipalities are using them — not just for jails, but also for paying property taxes. There’s a lot of them in Southern California.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.