Grand Jury (Day 7) – The matrix

Most of the criminals we’re told about are released from jail before we hear about them. Fully one third of the “cases” we deal with are FTA charges: Failure To Appear. Since there’s not enough room in the jail for all the bad people that get picked up, they are released, often in return for signing a sheet of paper that promises they’ll come back for their punishment at a later date. Oddly, many don’t show up. Then when they are picked up for other crimes, their rap sheet is lengthened by all their FTAs. Think of it as “compound interest” for trouble.

The jail uses a grid or “matrix” to decide who’s most dangerous and they reserve the jail cells for those who have earned them. Each FTA gets a person another point or two, but if they want to be sure to get an overnight stay in the jail, they must have more points than all the others clamoring for similar accommodations. In this way, the jail operates exactly like Saturday Market. Anyone can get a booth/cell, but only after you’ve been coming back reliably time after time do you accumulate enough points to know for sure you’re in where you want to be.

It’s hard to know whether common criminals or Saturday Market vendors are more industrious about gaining seniority. We don’t get to hear stories about vendors.