When a Loved One Goes to Jail: What to Do and How to Cope

Reviewed Feb 21, 2018

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Summary

  • Do not blame yourself for what has happened.
  • Do not be afraid to reach out to others for support.
  • Where to turn for info and help begins with where your loved one is being held.

When a person goes to jail he is not the only one affected. Parents, siblings, friends, spouses, and kids are all changed in that moment. Life is no longer the same for the person or for his loved ones. Millions are forced to deal with this reality each year. Every situation is different. But, there are some common concerns and emotions.

A flood of feelings

One thing that is bound to occur is a wave of differing emotions. These feelings can range from shock, worry, and fear, to anger, shame, and regret. You will surely feel a sense of loss, grief, and separation. You may also feel abandoned and betrayed. At times, you may feel the situation is hopeless and out of control.

It is important not to blame yourself for what has happened. People make their own choices and sometimes these choices have bad results. Feeling guilty about it will not help you or your loved one.  Instead, try to stay positive and focus on ways you and your family can best move forward.

A wave of concerns

There are a number of issues that you will have to deal with. Some of these may include:

  • Loss of income
  • Legal fees
  • Child care
  • Upkeep of house
  • Court dates
  • Custody hearings
  • Visitation rules
  • Cost of visits and calls
  • Social stigma
  • Children’s questions

All of these new concerns can quickly get out of hand. Do not be afraid to speak with a mental health provider and the facility to find out more info. Reach out to others for support. This is a time for families to stick together and for friends to rally behind them. Sharing the burden will help to lighten the load.

Finding help

Where to turn for info and help begins with where your loved one is being held. If it is a local city or county jail, or juvenile facility, check with your county sheriff’s office. If it is a state prison, go to your state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) website. You can also access a USA DOC Directory. Locate federal prisons through the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Contact your local welfare office about food stamps and other helpful programs. Check with your state’s Department of Children and Family Services about their Child Care Assistance Program. You may also be able to get financial help through programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Find further help through the Directory of Programs Serving Children and Families of the Incarcerated.

Legal help can be accessed through the Legal Information Institute or the Prison Policy Initiative’s Legal Resource Database.

Many families also turn to local places of worship or to charities such as the Salvation Army.

Resources

USA Department of Corrections
www.prisonpenpals.com/corrections.html

Federal Bureau of Prisons
www.bop.gov/

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/help

Directory of Programs Serving Children and Families of the Incarcerated
http://nrccfi.camden.rutgers.edu/resources/directory/national-programs/

Legal Information Institute
www.law.cornell.edu/

Legal Resource Database
www.prisonpolicy.org/resources/legal/

Mothers of Inmates
www.mothersofinmates.org/

Daily Strength: Families of Prisoners Support Group
www.dailystrength.org/c/Families-of-Prisoners/support-group

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: ASPE, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, http://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/prisoners-and-families; BGCE at Wheaton College

Summary

  • Do not blame yourself for what has happened.
  • Do not be afraid to reach out to others for support.
  • Where to turn for info and help begins with where your loved one is being held.

When a person goes to jail he is not the only one affected. Parents, siblings, friends, spouses, and kids are all changed in that moment. Life is no longer the same for the person or for his loved ones. Millions are forced to deal with this reality each year. Every situation is different. But, there are some common concerns and emotions.

A flood of feelings

One thing that is bound to occur is a wave of differing emotions. These feelings can range from shock, worry, and fear, to anger, shame, and regret. You will surely feel a sense of loss, grief, and separation. You may also feel abandoned and betrayed. At times, you may feel the situation is hopeless and out of control.

It is important not to blame yourself for what has happened. People make their own choices and sometimes these choices have bad results. Feeling guilty about it will not help you or your loved one.  Instead, try to stay positive and focus on ways you and your family can best move forward.

A wave of concerns

There are a number of issues that you will have to deal with. Some of these may include:

  • Loss of income
  • Legal fees
  • Child care
  • Upkeep of house
  • Court dates
  • Custody hearings
  • Visitation rules
  • Cost of visits and calls
  • Social stigma
  • Children’s questions

All of these new concerns can quickly get out of hand. Do not be afraid to speak with a mental health provider and the facility to find out more info. Reach out to others for support. This is a time for families to stick together and for friends to rally behind them. Sharing the burden will help to lighten the load.

Finding help

Where to turn for info and help begins with where your loved one is being held. If it is a local city or county jail, or juvenile facility, check with your county sheriff’s office. If it is a state prison, go to your state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) website. You can also access a USA DOC Directory. Locate federal prisons through the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Contact your local welfare office about food stamps and other helpful programs. Check with your state’s Department of Children and Family Services about their Child Care Assistance Program. You may also be able to get financial help through programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Find further help through the Directory of Programs Serving Children and Families of the Incarcerated.

Legal help can be accessed through the Legal Information Institute or the Prison Policy Initiative’s Legal Resource Database.

Many families also turn to local places of worship or to charities such as the Salvation Army.

Resources

USA Department of Corrections
www.prisonpenpals.com/corrections.html

Federal Bureau of Prisons
www.bop.gov/

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/help

Directory of Programs Serving Children and Families of the Incarcerated
http://nrccfi.camden.rutgers.edu/resources/directory/national-programs/

Legal Information Institute
www.law.cornell.edu/

Legal Resource Database
www.prisonpolicy.org/resources/legal/

Mothers of Inmates
www.mothersofinmates.org/

Daily Strength: Families of Prisoners Support Group
www.dailystrength.org/c/Families-of-Prisoners/support-group

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: ASPE, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, http://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/prisoners-and-families; BGCE at Wheaton College

Summary

  • Do not blame yourself for what has happened.
  • Do not be afraid to reach out to others for support.
  • Where to turn for info and help begins with where your loved one is being held.

When a person goes to jail he is not the only one affected. Parents, siblings, friends, spouses, and kids are all changed in that moment. Life is no longer the same for the person or for his loved ones. Millions are forced to deal with this reality each year. Every situation is different. But, there are some common concerns and emotions.

A flood of feelings

One thing that is bound to occur is a wave of differing emotions. These feelings can range from shock, worry, and fear, to anger, shame, and regret. You will surely feel a sense of loss, grief, and separation. You may also feel abandoned and betrayed. At times, you may feel the situation is hopeless and out of control.

It is important not to blame yourself for what has happened. People make their own choices and sometimes these choices have bad results. Feeling guilty about it will not help you or your loved one.  Instead, try to stay positive and focus on ways you and your family can best move forward.

A wave of concerns

There are a number of issues that you will have to deal with. Some of these may include:

  • Loss of income
  • Legal fees
  • Child care
  • Upkeep of house
  • Court dates
  • Custody hearings
  • Visitation rules
  • Cost of visits and calls
  • Social stigma
  • Children’s questions

All of these new concerns can quickly get out of hand. Do not be afraid to speak with a mental health provider and the facility to find out more info. Reach out to others for support. This is a time for families to stick together and for friends to rally behind them. Sharing the burden will help to lighten the load.

Finding help

Where to turn for info and help begins with where your loved one is being held. If it is a local city or county jail, or juvenile facility, check with your county sheriff’s office. If it is a state prison, go to your state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) website. You can also access a USA DOC Directory. Locate federal prisons through the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Contact your local welfare office about food stamps and other helpful programs. Check with your state’s Department of Children and Family Services about their Child Care Assistance Program. You may also be able to get financial help through programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Find further help through the Directory of Programs Serving Children and Families of the Incarcerated.

Legal help can be accessed through the Legal Information Institute or the Prison Policy Initiative’s Legal Resource Database.

Many families also turn to local places of worship or to charities such as the Salvation Army.

Resources

USA Department of Corrections
www.prisonpenpals.com/corrections.html

Federal Bureau of Prisons
www.bop.gov/

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/help

Directory of Programs Serving Children and Families of the Incarcerated
http://nrccfi.camden.rutgers.edu/resources/directory/national-programs/

Legal Information Institute
www.law.cornell.edu/

Legal Resource Database
www.prisonpolicy.org/resources/legal/

Mothers of Inmates
www.mothersofinmates.org/

Daily Strength: Families of Prisoners Support Group
www.dailystrength.org/c/Families-of-Prisoners/support-group

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: ASPE, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, http://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/prisoners-and-families; BGCE at Wheaton College

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2018 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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