How the phone system works in jail

When a close friend or family member first gets arrested the first instinct will often be to try and call them at the facility, however, if trying to do that you will soon find out that this isn’t possible. In jails, there are very strict protocols for getting in touch with a loved one. Here is a guide to how the system works.

No incoming calls are allowed

Probably rule number one for calls in regards to jails and prisons is that incoming calls are strictly prohibited. As we said, if you were to call a facility asking to talk to an inmate, they would quickly shut you down and it could cause annoyance with the staff. It is important to just be patient and let the inmate contact you. When they are allowed to call, you will most likely receive a call collect or if they have the resources there are usually prepaid phones available to them as well. It is also good to know that a defendant will not be able to call you until the booking process is complete after an arrest so it may take some time to hear from them or in the case of someone serving a sentence, they will only have the opportunity to make calls during specific times of the day.

You could end up needing to be pre-approved

Another rule that is important to remember is that many facilities (though not all) may require anyone who receives phone calls from an inmate to be put on a pre-approved phone list. This means unless your number is on the list they will not be able to call you and this could be a problem if your loved one did not have your phone number memorized. If they did not then you may be able to register your number on the facility website to get them the number or if not, you will have to either visit or physically write a letter to give them your number to be put on the list.

Call waiting can cause issues

If your phone has call waiting features as all cell phones do come standard, it may be in your best interest to invest in a landline if your loved one is serving a longer sentence. This is because the call waiting feature has a tendency to cause calls to drop which can be extremely annoying when you have no way to simply call back and there is no guarantee that they can call your back.

Phone calls from jail are monitored

It may come as a surprise to some who have never dealt with prison phone calls before but when first receiving a call from jail, you will hear a message that will inform you that the call will be recorded and monitored. This is standard and will be done on every phone call so it is best to be cautious about what is discussed on these calls and to know that they are not only being recorded but also transcripted to keep as a record as well

Overall, the entire phone process in jails can be really frustrating in the beginning especially when you just want to know your loved one is ok, but if they are just being detained you should hear from them soon enough and if they are serving a sentence, once the hoops have been jumped, hopefully, a pattern will be created to make everything smoother.

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