Posted on

Understand the Logistics of a Jail Visit

Jail Wall

The visit will likely be conducted either via a telephone and closed circuit tv screen or through a dividing glass wall. Prepare yourself for the fact that you might not be allowed to make any physical contact with your loved one during the visit. You may not pass them any notes, money or personal items. Visitation rooms tend to get crowded and hectic during open hours. People from all walks of life will surround you. Be respectful of them and their right to visit their loved ones but don’t be afraid to ask that others are respectful of your visit as well. If someone is interfering with your right to have a meaningful visit with your loved one, notify a corrections officer.

Prepare what you want to talk about

Plan ahead regarding what you want to discuss with your loved one during the visit. Time will be limited to about 15-30 minutes, and extensions are not likely to be granted. To avoid running out of time, make a list of the things that need to be addressed. Important talking points include:

  • Does your loved one require you to bring prescription medication to the jail?
  • Is there housing or employment issues that need o to be taken care of for your or your loved one while they’re incarcerated?
  • Does your loved one need help retaining an attorney?

As a general matter, county jails will not allow inmates to release items in their personal property to civilians; however, most prisons make exceptions for crucial things like house keys and government benefit cards. If you need to retrieve something from your loved one’s belongings, you will have to fill out the proper documentation first.

Never discuss the facts of a pending criminal case when visiting. While most jail visits are not recorded (unlike inmate phone calls), you never know who is listening. If you have relevant, confidential information regarding the case, its best to go through an attorney rather than tell them in person.

Though it may be difficult, try to keep the conversation as positive as possible. Remind your loved one that you support them and encourage them to take part in any programming provided at the jail such as anger management classes or AA meetings.

Expect a request for money

Prepare yourself for the fact that your loved one will likely ask you to give them some money for phone calls and commissary. Commissary is similar to a general store that operates within the jail. Inmates can buy snacks, toiletries, and other personal items to help make their stay more tolerable. You will not be allowed to hand over cash during your visit, but you may be able to transfer money to your loved one using a kiosk in the lobby. The officials at the jail will have information about transferring money.

Know the rules and follow them

Don’t ask for special treatment from the jail officials or corrections officers. Respect the rules and follow them at all times while at the jail. It’s important to be polite to the corrections officers. Although the officers may not always show you the same courtesy, try to remember that they have a very stressful and challenging job. If you think you are being treated poorly, explain how you called ahead to learn the rules, what you were told, and what you need. Then politely ask to speak to a supervisor.

Posted on

4 Ways To Prepare To Visit Your Loved One In Jail

Someone in Jail

Visiting your loved one in county jail can be a stressful and emotionally trying experience. It’s important to plan ahead so that you have a clear idea of what to expect during the visit. This will help to keep your nerves calm and have a successful visit.

Have the most up to date information on hand

The best way to get up to date and accurate information regarding visitation is to contact the sheriff’s office in the county where your loved is incarcerated. Local sheriffs departments operate most jails in the US, so they’ll likely have the most recent information and rules of the jail. Many jails also have easy to navigate websites which makes it easy to publically access the vital information about things like visitation and other regulations.

Schedule your visit ahead of time

Before making arrangements to visit your loved one, you need to check the inmate visitation schedule. The schedule is usually arranged by the last name, inmate number or where they’re housed within the facility. Inmates typically get at least one social visit per week, and sometimes they may be responsible for setting up the session in advance themselves.

Your loved one can schedule a visitation from a kiosk within their cell block or by submitting a form to the jail administration. Make sure your loved one has requested and been approved for your visit at least 24 hours ahead of your planned visit to be sure.

Keep in mind that the jail limits inmates to a certain number of visits per week and usually no more than one visit per day so you may want to coordinate a schedule with other potential visitors. Visitation is generally done during the evenings and on the weekend. Inmates segregated for health reasons, security concerns or rule violations may have significantly reduced visitation opportunities.

While visits are generally limited to just one adult per session, many jails allow you to bring a child as well. Just make sure the child is well behaved and mature enough to handle the adult atmosphere of a jail visit.

Arrive at least 15 minutes early for the visit

Most county jails are overcrowded, so it’s likely that you’ll experience extended wait lines for visitations.

Be smart about what you bring with you

Make sure you have a valid state ID when you check in. Also, keep in mind that many local jails don’t allow cell phones the building. The safest thing to do is to leave your technology at home or in the car. Some prisons have lockers for you to store your stuff in, but they might cost money so bring coins if you plan to use one.

Security is tight for all visitors entering the jail. Expect to pass through a metal detector and be searched by armed guards. Be cautious of wearing jewelry, underwire bras or body piercings. Also carefully check what you are carrying with you into the jail.

Make sure you don’t have any knives, razors, or anything that could be used a weapon. If you have a handbag, check the contents of the bag ahead of time or leave it in the car to be sage. Do not try to bring things for your loved without asking the jail for permission ahead of time.

Prepare yourself mentally

You can prepare as much as possible, but remember to stay calm during the visit and not let the stress of the surrounding situation get to you.

What to Expect When a Visiting Loved One in County Jail

Visiting a loved one in jail can be a stressful event; however, there are things you can do to prepare for the visit (link here to the previous article) to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. It’s important to understand how the visitation process works and what you might encounter during the visit, to make it a seamless experience.

We want you to be prepared, so we’ve outlined four things to keep in mind before visiting your loved one in the county jail.

Posted on

Dealing with Bond Issues When Your Loved One is Arrested

Male in Handcuffs

When you find out that your loved one is arrested, you might feel the urge instantly enter problem-solving mode. Parts of the situation are out of your hands, but helping your loved one post bond is one of the most helpful things you can do to help get them temporarily out of jail.

Collect information

Find out the name of the arresting agency and the name of arresting officer(s) to have for future reference. Ask the officer where your loved one is being booked and where you can bond them out. In some cases, your loved one may qualify for recognizance or signature bond. This means they will be referred from jail after they go through booking procedures without having to post the bond.

Determine the charge

Ask the arresting officer or the jail what the specific charge was. You can also ask to see a document called the charging instrument which lists the exact name of the alleged crime and the particular code section.

Think twice before contacting a bondsman

If your loved one is held to a high money bond, then you may want to consider contacting a bail bondsman. These are individuals and businesses who lend money to people to post bond. It might seem like a good idea under pressure, but there are grave risks associated with bail bond agencies. Talk to your lawyer first to come up with other options before resorting to a bondsman.

Post bond

When posting bond, you might be required to pay an additional $50 fee. Most county jails have a bond out window somewhere in the administrative section of the building. You should think of the bond as a gift to your friend or loved one. Don’t plan on getting the money back. Bond may be forfeited for failure to appear at future court dates; it may be assigned your loved one’s attorney, or it may be used to pay your loved one’s fines and court costs. If there is any bond left over after the resolution of the case, it will be refunded to the person who posted the bond minus an administrative fee of usually about 10% of the bond amount.

Arrange a ride

Don’t forget to arrange a ride for your loved one upon their release on bond. Some police stations and county jails are not in the safest neighborhoods, so you don’t want your loved one stranded there without a ride.

Take care of day to day needs

If your loved one can’t post bond, they may need your help with other things until their release. For example, you might need to provide the jail with your loved one’s prescriptions. You also may want to contact their school, job or other obligations and inform them of their absence. Also, keep in mind things like rent and bills that need to be paid while you’re loved one is incarcerated.

Posted on

What To Do When Your Loved One is Arrested

Handcuffs When Arrested

It’s never a fun day when a loved gets arrested. You want to help, but if you’ve never been in this situation, you won’t know what to do or who to call.

We’re here to help. In this article, you’ll learn what steps to take to assist and comfort your loved one during the aftermath of the arrest. Depending on where you are at the time of the arrest, there are different ways to react to ensure the best possible outcome.

If you are present at the time of the arrest

Gather information

At the moment, it’s important to keep calm and not panic. You will want to be level-headed and calm when approaching the situation. First, ask the officers if your loved one is free to go or if they’re being detained. If they’ve been arrested, you are allowed to ask why. If the arrest happened under a warrant, ask which jurisdiction issued the order and how much to expect to pay for the bond.

Always be respectful

It is okay to ask the police questions, but be respectful when talking to law enforcement. As long as you are not getting in the way of them doing their jobs, and ask politely, they will provide with the necessary information you need.

Be reassuring and available

If you can speak to your loved one before they’re taken to the station, tell them not to answer any questions beyond the standard booking questions. Tell them that you will do your best to bond them out of as fast as possible. It’s also comforting to let them know that you will contact an attorney for them.

If your loved one calls from jail

Don’t ask for details

Remember that virtually all police stations record phone calls and the prosecution will obtain a copy of the recording, so don’t ask for more information over the phone. Don’t ask about the circumstances leading up to the event surrounding your loved one’s arrest. Instead, ask what facility they are.

Urge them to remain silent

Tell your loved one not to discuss the case with anyone until they meet with a lawyer. Help them get through police interrogations by telling them exactly what to say which is “I don’t want to answer questions. I want to talk to a lawyer.”

Contact a criminal defense lawyer

There is a lot at stake immediately after the arrest, so don’t delay hiring a lawyer as soon as possible. You will need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. Inform your loved one’s attorney of exactly where they are being held and urge them to get down there as soon as possible to speak to their client.

If you hear about the arrest from a third party

Find your loved one

You may be able to find your loved one using your local government’s website, but don’t waste time or money on a commercial inmate locator. Note that it will take some time for your loved one to show up on the computer. You can also call your local non-emergency line for help. When calling, have as much information as possible, including their full name and date of birth. You can also look up the number for your country jail and call there to speak with the booking department directly. If your loved one is being housed a local precinct, it is helpful if you know where the arrest took place when it occurred, and your loved one’s current address.

Remain calm

Your loved one will be scared and desperate to get out of custody, so you need to reflect calm and reassurance. Remind them that they are not alone and you will work to get them out of custody as soon as possible.