Jail calls: a prosecutor's best friends
A former Miss Kentucky USA is now facing felony charges in Ohio and a potential 3 year prison term if convicted of trying to smuggle marijuana into a correctional facility. While amazing by itself that a national former pageant queen may now be confined to a 6' x 10' cell, this is not the only interesting part of the story. Equally as intriguing is how she got busted: by allegedly discussing her smuggling plans with an inmate over the phone and authorities subsequently listening to recordings of that conversation.
Anyone who has ever made or received a call from a detention facility has heard the prerecorded message at the beginning of the call. Usually it goes something like: "This call will be recorded." Nevertheless, time and time again the parties to these conversations ignore this warning. Instead, they go about their business and have conversations that could potentially book them a trip to jail (e.g., Ex-Miss Kentucky) or ensure they stay there (e.g., discussing the facts of one's case).
While I can't tell you why one would make such a poor and costly decision, I suspect that one reason may be a common belief that the authorities have more important things to do that listen to countless numbers of inmate conversations. This could not be farther from the truth. As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that many convictions are won in part, or in whole, on recorded conversations wherein a jailed defendant discusses the facts of his or her case with someone on the other side. Prosecutors and law enforcement alike regularly both listen to and use these conversations--which many times contain an admission of guilt, inconsistent statements, discussing of plans, or dialogue equally as detrimental--to seal a defendant's fate.
To put it simply, the next time you hear "this call will be recorded," do yourself and your attorney a favor and refrain from discussing anything potentially damaging to your case. Better yet, do not discuss your case at all. If not, you may pay with your freedom.
Bonus Tip: Just as important as not discussing any facts of your case over the phone while incarcerated, is not speaking with any co-inmates about the same. Jailhouse informants are real, not just a Hollywood myth.