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

Posted Nov 30, 2015

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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 children are all changed in that moment. Life is no longer the same for the person or for his loved ones. Millions of families are forced to deal with this reality each year. Every situation is different. However, there are some common concerns and emotions that most of these families experience.

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 issues 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 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 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 for assistance.

Staying connected with your loved one

Visits

Visiting rules vary so you will need to contact the facility

Phone calls

Inmates may not receive calls but can call collect or use phone cards. Make sure you know what dates and times your loved one will call so that you do not miss the phone call.

Transferring money

Some facilities will have a place on site for putting money into an inmate’s account.

Email

Email services can be used at most federal prisons. Check with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for more info.

Mail

Specific rules for sending mail depend on each facility. Check with the facility for specific rules.

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, www.wheaton.edu/~/media/Files/Centers-and-Institutes/BGC/IPM/Resources/Family/Guidebook-for-Families-and-Friends-of-the-Incarcerated.pdf; Assisting Families of Inmates, www.afoi.org/strategies/coping.html

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 children are all changed in that moment. Life is no longer the same for the person or for his loved ones. Millions of families are forced to deal with this reality each year. Every situation is different. However, there are some common concerns and emotions that most of these families experience.

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 issues 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 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 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 for assistance.

Staying connected with your loved one

Visits

Visiting rules vary so you will need to contact the facility

Phone calls

Inmates may not receive calls but can call collect or use phone cards. Make sure you know what dates and times your loved one will call so that you do not miss the phone call.

Transferring money

Some facilities will have a place on site for putting money into an inmate’s account.

Email

Email services can be used at most federal prisons. Check with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for more info.

Mail

Specific rules for sending mail depend on each facility. Check with the facility for specific rules.

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, www.wheaton.edu/~/media/Files/Centers-and-Institutes/BGC/IPM/Resources/Family/Guidebook-for-Families-and-Friends-of-the-Incarcerated.pdf; Assisting Families of Inmates, www.afoi.org/strategies/coping.html

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 children are all changed in that moment. Life is no longer the same for the person or for his loved ones. Millions of families are forced to deal with this reality each year. Every situation is different. However, there are some common concerns and emotions that most of these families experience.

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 issues 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 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 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 for assistance.

Staying connected with your loved one

Visits

Visiting rules vary so you will need to contact the facility

Phone calls

Inmates may not receive calls but can call collect or use phone cards. Make sure you know what dates and times your loved one will call so that you do not miss the phone call.

Transferring money

Some facilities will have a place on site for putting money into an inmate’s account.

Email

Email services can be used at most federal prisons. Check with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for more info.

Mail

Specific rules for sending mail depend on each facility. Check with the facility for specific rules.

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, www.wheaton.edu/~/media/Files/Centers-and-Institutes/BGC/IPM/Resources/Family/Guidebook-for-Families-and-Friends-of-the-Incarcerated.pdf; Assisting Families of Inmates, www.afoi.org/strategies/coping.html

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, 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.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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