When a loved one gets arrested or even worse have to serve time in jail or prison there may be some concern about how to get in touch. Your first instinct may be to just call the facility and ask to talk to the defendant but it simply isn’t that easy. Here is an overview of how the call process will work from jail.
You cannot call the inmate
The first major thing to know about calls from jail is that the defendant cannot actually receive calls in prison, they can only make them and this is a hard rule. If you call the prison asking to talk to someone or to leave a message with the staff they will quickly let you know this. Of course, under some circumstances such as an emergency, they may be able to relay to the inmate that they should call but it is only under very rare circumstances. Instead, the system is made so that an inmate calls out from the jail collect or may be able to use a series of prepaid phones. Every facility has a different set of hours and if something like lockdown is occurring then even those hours may be delayed.
You may have to be approved
Another important factor is that you may need to be put on an approved list to get telephone calls from your loved one in jail. This can be difficult for some since nowadays having phone numbers memorized is a rarity so if your number was not memorized you may have to register your number to give to the inmate on a facility website or in some cases you may have to physically write a letter to the inmate so that they have your number to put on the approved number list. Having an approved phone list is not mandatory in all facilities but it is done in many so that having lots of unknown outgoing calls is limited.
Special phone functions can mess up the call
3-way phone features are prohibited when receiving a call from an inmate and most likely if that occurs then the phone call would not be able to compete anyways but other functions like call waiting may cause the phone call to drop which can be especially frustrating when you cannot just call back so if you happen to have a landline where you can turn off such features, it may be an easier experience.
Calls will be recorded
One last thing that people may be surprised about the first time they receive an outgoing call from prison is that before the call connects, there will be a message stating that all calls will be recorded and monitored. It may not be the best idea to get into any specifics of a case when a defendant is first arrested and it is good to know in general that jails will usually have these calls transcripted for reference and records.
In the end, the process to get in touch with a loved one through the phone while they are in prison can be a long one at times filled with hoops but once everything is set up and a pattern is made then it should become much smoother.