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What To Do After Locating An Inmate

What To Do After Locating An Inmate

After locating your incarcerated loved one, it’s time to figure out the next course of action. It is important to find how you can stay connected with them or offer support. Such support is necessary for the inmate’s mental health and general well-being.  

Below is an in-depth guide on the things you can do after you have successfully traced your incarcerated loved one: 

Send Money 

Sending money to an inmate in the United States can be a straightforward process, but it may vary from facility to facility. However, there’s a general outline you can follow:   

Determine the Facility’s Rules and Regulations 

Each facility has rules and regulations regarding accepting money from outside sources. It is essential to familiarize yourself with these rules before attempting to send money to an inmate. This information is typically available on the facility’s website or by contacting them directly. 

Choose a Payment Method  

There are several ways to send money to an inmate, including by mail, online, or in person. Some facilities accept money orders, cashier’s checks, or personal checks, while others may only accept cash or credit/debit card payments. 

Mail a Money Order or Cashier’s Check 

If the facility accepts money orders or cashier’s checks, you can purchase one at a bank or post office and mail it to the inmate. Include the inmate’s name and identification number on the money order or check. 

Send Money Online  

Many facilities offer the option to send money online using a credit or debit card. This can be a convenient option but may also come with additional fees. 

Send Money In Person  

This option involves visiting the facility and depositing money at the kiosk in the lobby. These kiosks accept cash, credit/debit card, or money order. 

Use a Third-Party Service  

Some companies specialize in sending money to inmates. These companies typically charge a fee for their services but may offer more convenient options, such as sending money online or by phone. 

Remember that the facility may limit the amount of money an inmate can receive at a given time. They may also take a percentage as a fee for handling the money. Other times, some facilities restrict what the inmate can use the money for, such as purchasing items from the commissary or making phone calls. 

Send Mail  

Sending mail is a privilege that most inmates enjoy in the United States. It allows them to maintain essential community ties beneficial to them upon release.  

Here is a more in-depth look at the steps you can take to send mail to an inmate: 

Find the Facility’s Mailing Address 

Each facility has its own mailing address through the United States Postal Service. You can find this address on its website or by contacting them directly. Include the inmate’s name and identification number in the address. 

Follow the Facility’s Mailing Guidelines  

Each facility has its guidelines for what is allowed in inmate mail. These guidelines may vary, but some common restrictions include the following: 

  • Prohibiting certain items such as food, drugs, or contraband 
  • Limiting the size and number of letters an inmate can receive at a given time 
  • Requiring that all mail be sent through the US Postal Service 
  • Prohibiting mail that contains inappropriate or offensive content 

Familiarize yourself with these guidelines to ensure that your mail meets the standards. 

Write a Letter  

You can write a letter to the inmate using standard stationery and an envelope. Keep in mind that the facility may censor or reject any mail that is deemed inappropriate or a security risk. You may also want to avoid discussing sensitive topics or including personal information in your letter. The authorities can use the information against your loved one in court. 

Address the Envelope 

Include the correct address for the facility and the inmate’s name and identification number. It is a good idea to use a return address on the envelope in case the authorities fail to find the right recipient. 

Send the Letter  

Once you have written your letter and made sure it follows the facility’s guidelines, you can mail it to the facility’s address. It is a good idea to keep a copy of the letter for your records. 

It’s important to note that the facility may take some time to process and deliver the letter to the inmate, as the screening process takes time. Additionally, the facility may charge a fee for handling inmate mail. 

Visit the Inmate 

Inmate visits can be valuable for inmates to maintain contact with friends and family while in custody. Studies show inmates who receive visitors are less likely to re-offend upon release.  

Here is a detailed overview of inmate visits in the US: 

Check the Facility’s Rules and Regulations 

The regulations regarding visitations vary depending on the facility, including:  

  • The Visitation Days and Time  
  • The Visitation Lengths  
  • Restrictions on Who Can Visit 

Get familiar with these rules before attempting to visit an inmate. This information is typically available on the facility’s website or by contacting them directly. 

Schedule a Visit  

Inmates can receive a certain number of weekly visits, and you must schedule them in advance. There are various procedures to schedule a visit – you can contact the facility directly or use an online scheduling system if one is available. Further, some facilities may require you to schedule visits a week in advance, while others may allow you to schedule visits on a same-day basis. 

Prepare for the Visit  

Every correctional facility subjects its visitors to screening and searches before entry. Ensure you’re well prepared by not packing any personal belongings. You should also be ready to show identification and provide your name and contact information. Further, ensure you follow specific dress guidelines. 

Conduct the Visit  

You will talk to the inmate in a designated area during the visit. The facility may allow you to bring certain items, such as books or cards, but you need to check with the particular facility to see what’s legal. Some facilities also have no contact rules, prohibiting inmates and visitors from hugging or shaking hands.  

Other restrictions include the number of visitors visiting an inmate at a given time. Most facilities allow two visitors per visit and three if a minor is among them. Moreover, the facility may cancel or reschedule visits if necessary due to security concerns or other factors. 

Bail Them Out  

Another thing you can do after locating your incarcerated loved ones is to bail them out. Here are a few steps to follow: 

Determine the Offender’s Eligibility for Bail 

Generally, offenders are eligible for bail upon arrest and being charged. However, there are exceptions to this. For instance, a person will be denied bail if the court considers them to be a flight risk. Also, courts will likely deny bail to individuals facing charges for serious crimes.  

Establish the Bail Amount  

Judges and magistrates set bail based on the severity of the crime, the offender’s criminal history, and other factors. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the offender adheres to the court attendance requirements.  

Choose a Bail Bond Company 

If you do not have the total amount of bail, you can work with a bail bond company to secure the offender’s release. Bail bond companies charge a fee, typically 10% of the total bail amount, to provide a guarantee to the court that the offender will appear for their court proceedings. 

Complete the Necessary Paperwork 

The bail bond company will provide you with the necessary paperwork to secure the offender’s release. This may include an application, a contract, and other documents. You will need to provide the bail bond company with the necessary information, including the offender’s name and bail amount. 

Pay the Bail Bond Fee  

The bail bond company will require you to pay the fee to secure the offender’s release. This fee is non-refundable, even if the offender appears in court. 

Wait for the Offender’s Release  

Once the bail bond company has received the fee and completed the necessary paperwork, they will work with the facility to secure the offender’s release. This process may take some time, so patience is a good idea. 

However, remember that the process for bail and bail bonds may vary depending on the state and the case’s specific circumstances.  

Send Care Packages  

Sending a care package to an inmate in the United States is a good way to show your support and help them feel connected to the outside world. Here are the steps you can follow during the process:  

Comply with the Facility’s Rules and Regulations 

Most facilities have strict policies regarding sending care packages to inmates. This includes the items they allow and their sizes and weights. Before sending any item, inquire whether the items are allowed from the facility. Sometimes, you can find this information on the jail or prison’s official website.  

Choose a Provider 

Several companies specialize in providing care packages to inmates. These companies typically offer a range of packages that include a variety of items, such as food, hygiene products, and other essentials. You can choose a provider that meets your needs and budget. 

Place Your Order  

Now it’s time to place your order online or via phone. You will need to provide the inmate’s name and identification number, as well as the facility’s address. 

Wait for the Delivery of the Care Package 

The care package provider will typically handle the package delivery to the facility. It may take some time, as the facility may need to screen it for security reasons. 

Even in facilities that accept care packages, some inmates may be restricted from receiving them. This includes situations where an inmate has disciplinary issues.  

Call the Inmate  

It’s a general rule that inmates can communicate with their family members and friends via phone calls. However, the timelines and procedures vary from facility to facility. You can ensure you comply by taking the following measures:  

  • Find the Facility’s Phone Number: You can typically find the facility’s phone number on its website or by contacting them directly. 
  • Set Up an Account: Inmates are usually allowed to make collect calls, meaning the charges for the call will be on your phone bill. To receive collect calls, you will need to set up an account with the facility’s phone services provider. This can typically be done online or by contacting the provider directly. 
  • Accept the Call: You will receive a prompt to accept the call when the inmate calls. You may need to press a button or say “yes” to accept the call. Remember that you may be charged for the call even if you do not answer it. 
  • Pay for the Call: You’ll typically pay for collect calls at the end of the billing cycle. You will receive a bill from the phone provider that includes the charges for the calls you received from the inmate. 

Most facilities restrict the number and length of an inmate’s phone calls at a given time. Additionally, the facility may monitor and record inmate phone calls for security reasons.