Tips and Pointers for moms who may face incarceration
Clip nails and shave underarms and legs if necessary since they won't allow you to have clippers in jail.
Need a haircut and conditioner for your hair? Do it now.
If you can get some cash for your purse, do so and then have them add some of it to your account so you can buy commissary items. Leave enough in coins and bills in your purse for phone calls and taxi if needed when they let you out as it may be very
late at night.
Be aware that it is a common practice to let women out on the streets in a rundown downtown area between 2-4am, supposedly that is a low impact time on the jail staff, but to me it seems set up to cover up.
Empty purse of anything that is not essential since they will look at everything.
Bring a list of names, addresses and phone numbers to add to your approved contact/visitor list and make sure they are included otherwise you may be denied contact with the outside. Tell supporters that you will have to make collect calls and approximately when to expect them.
Immediately ask supporters to contact the jail about visits and getting mail to you,
get your jail ID number and then have them post online so we can inundate the jail with mail supporting you.
Bring bottles with meds so you can show jail medical personnel and they have to aid you in keeping up with your prescriptions, otherwise note it to bring up in court later as a violation of your rights.
Have a bra with underwires? Remove them or else your bra will be taken away.
It is illegal to require you to submit to a cavity search so if they try to do it to you, call them on it. The law says they can only do it if they suspect you of having drugs or weapons up your vagina or butt, and only if it ties in with your charges. The matron will back off if you explain why you are being arrested, and ask her to look at the paperwork to verify. It is usually done to humiliate you to the extent that they want to make you feel powerless and inhuman.
Smile for the camera and ask that they take your mug shot before you have to shower otherwise they will want to take your pic while your hair is a wet mess for the same dehumanizing reasons. They will also try to give you clothing that is 3X too big or small. Same reasons.
Remember that most of the women in jail are basically good people who made mistakes. They are not the enemy and are going thru tuff times too, so don't take anything personal that may be said. Most will be friendly especially when they find out why you are in jail. Offer them help if they have custody problems and be sensitive to their own charges, many are there because they are involved in drugs and may have lost their children due to that. Allow them to feel that you are on the same level as they are, and not special since you didn't have to commit a crime to have been arrested. Mainly they just want to feel that they are victims of circumstances that got out of control too.
It is not like in the movies and lesbians know who the other lesbians are and they are not going to attack a straight woman and force her to have sex. Mostly they are friendly and stick together, minding their own business.
Clicks form just like in High School. The new people are constantly changing so you will have no problem finding a place to sit or someone to sit with. You will be able to tell the long term incarcerated women because they have a set routine and stick to their own small group, usually they have jobs as trustees.
Eat some food otherwise you will be isolated in a cell and then forced to eat. I was told that if you have allergies or dietary restrictions you can ask and receive special meals. Most jail food is not great and sort of like what you received in the elementary school cafeteria- bologne, fresh fruit, milk, corn bread and beans etc. Salads are rare. Usually as a new inmate you will be invited to sit with other women who will be happy to take your extra food since many druggies are starving and can't eat enough. Don't let the deputies see you giving away the food, make it look as tho you are eating no matter what.
Be kind to the staff and they will be kind to you, with very few exceptions.
If there is any support group, join it. Allies will be found in the church groups and parenting classes, valuable allies mostly being the instructors and ministers that come in from the outside.
Jail is not going to be fun, but they will not harm you either. It is mostly boring and then there are moments that you will face some sort of humiliating acts such as late night police training raids where they force you out of bed and tear up your
cell looking for drugs and weapons, and at that time they will look at all of your court papers to see what you are working on, and in some mothers' cases, they have taken the paperwork as "contraband", which means that they are worried about it being used against the court. Make sure there are copies available to be delivered to you.
Complaining to the judge won't get you anywhere as I believe they encourage or order these thefts.