Santa Monica resident Stephen Petrick was stuck in prison for five days because he couldn't remember a landline number. After being jailed in Los Angeles county for false imprisonment charges — Petrick had allegedly locked up a heroin-addicted pregnant woman to help get her off the drug — he was placed in a medical unit due to his high blood pressure and diabetes. But when time came for his phone call, Petrick couldn't make a collect call to a cellphone, was unable to recall any landline numbers, and was denied access to a list of bond agencies to call. As a result he was stuck in the prison system for five days, until the date of his first court appearance. He was eventually sentenced to three years probation and received credit for those five nights.
While LA County doesn't provide the phone numbers for bond agencies, others do, including nearby Orange County and San Diego County. But no matter whether you're calling from jail or not, collect calls must be made to a landline — something a quarter of American households no longer have.