When someone you care about goes to prison, it can be hard to know what to expect. Each facility operates differently, from the process to communicate with your loved one to the system for sending money. Additionally, supporting your loved one involves wading through a myriad of complex information, much of it difficult to interpret and full of legal jargon. Where should you begin first? Inmate Support can help you through this taxing process by offering these general guidelines for providing optimal support for an incarcerated friend or family member.

Research Your Inmate’s Prison Facility

Learning about your loved one’s environment gives you insight into his or her experience, helping you offer more meaningful and more efficient support. Inmate Support offers a free, high-speed searchable directory of all jails in the United States, offering you instant access to an overview of what to expect. The search results outline general details of the facility, including its size, security level, visiting hours, and contact information. You can also learn about the any other opportunities available for your loved one, such as educational classes and religious services, and the process for sending money and gifts to your friend or family member.

Build Your Support Team

To provide your best support for your friend or family member, it is important to build a team that can successfully represent the interests of your loved one. Consider contacting a criminal lawyer to interpret legal documents you may see, counsel you on your inmate’s legal rights, and leverage his or her years of successful experience to defend your loved one’s case. If your friend or family member has just been arrested, and you do not have the financial resources to meet his or her bail requirements, hiring a bail bondsman may be a viable option. A reputable bond agent has the legal network to pledge money or collateral on your loved one’s behalf, enabling the ones you care about to be released from jail quickly. Inmate Support’s easy-to-use search directory displays best matches of criminal lawyers and bail bondsmen in your area. Each profile outlines a general description of the professional’s background and experience as well as location and contact information, making it easy to compare alternatives and move forward with building your support team.

Prepare For Visits With Your Loved One

Once you have researched your inmate’s prison facility and have an understanding of the jail’s visiting hours, there are a few steps you can take to make the experience a smoother one. First, call the prison or visit its website to review specific procedures regarding visitation. Pay close attention to any approvals or security clearances you need to move forward as well as forms of identification you need to bring with you. Try to get a sense of how long each visit will last and what the environment will be like. Next, spend some time mentally preparing yourself for your conversation with your friend or family member. Think about the questions you would to ask and how you will provide emotional support for your loved one. Finally, make every effort to arrive early. If a setback occurs, like traffic on route to the facility or unexpected paperwork to complete once you are there, the extra time you have allowed yourself will minimize stress and keep you focused.

Take Care of Yourself

When you are spending excessive amounts of time and energy supporting a loved one in prison, it is easy to forget to care of yourself. Make every effort to eat well, get plenty of rest, and seek emotional support. You can provide your best support for your friend or family when you yourself are healthy and supported.