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The arrest of a family member or friend can be very upsetting. Trying to figure out what to do and where to start can feel overwhelming. Here are some steps to take to help your loved one through the situation.
If you don’t know which jail your loved one is being held in you can use an online inmate locator.
If your family member requires medication, he should inform the jail staff. If he has not informed the jail staff, you should ask his psychiatrist to contact them. Although there’s no privacy law restricting a medical professional from sharing information with jail staff, some will refuse. If that happens, you should make contact with your family member’s doctor. It is best to do this in writing and then follow up with a phone call. This will ensure a written record of your request. Your request should be to the point and include:
If your family member is being mistreated in jail, you should start by contacting your state’s protection and advocacy agency, which is responsible for protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. You can also contact your state’s affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The arrest of a family member may mean he or she needs to appear in court. Knowing what to expect can help you provide the most support for your loved one and hopefully lead to the best outcome.
Most people charged with crimes are assigned a public defender. Here is what you should do:
Remember that the public defender works for your family member, not you. You can ask your loved one to sign a release that allows the attorney to share information with you. However, he may refuse and there’s little the attorney can do.
You can also hire a private defense attorney who has experience working with clients with mental illness.
If your loved one is released, he may still need to appear in court. If he does not want to appear in court, you can ask the attorney if there’s a way that the hearing can continue without his presence.
If he needs to attend here are some things you can do to make the experience easier.