If you have a friend or loved one in jail waiting for a trial, what can they expect. Being in jail waiting for a trial is completely different from going to prison after a guilty plea or conviction by a jury. This article will concern waiting in jail before trial. I will write later on what a person might experience when sentenced to the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

There are several places a person might be incarcerated when arrested. If a person is arrested inside a City they will generally be taken first to the City jail. Most cities have jails but they are not made to accommodate people for very long. If a person goes to the City Jail they will usually only be there until they see a Judge. If the charge is a felony they will probably be transferred to the County Jail. The County Jail in most Counties is located at the same place as you find the Sheriff’s Department. People arrested on misdemeanor cases typically bond out from the City Jail, but if they do not bond out they will be transferred to the County Jail. A person awaiting trial does not go to the State Penitentiary. The State Prison is for people who have already been convicted.

While in Custody in a City or County Jail a person is entitled to have family visits and use the telephone. The Jails have visitation schedules and often the person in jail has to file a visitation list before a family member can visit. I have been at the jail before and witnessed family members from out of town come to visit only to discover they could not visit so be absolutely sure to learn the rules for the jail. Usually the County Jails have snacks for sale and pay phones that the inmates can use. Money can be deposited into the inmates’ accounts for the purchase of snacks. One word of warning. The jails usually use a phone service that is extremely expensive. If an inmate calls collect I have seen families incur $500.00 or more in collect calls from a County Jail per month. One other important fact to remember. Phones at the County Jails are not secure. Let me repeat that again. Telephone calls from jails are not secure. A person in jail should never, ever discuss any facts about their case over the telephone. Jails have employees who listen to inmate calls and report what they hear to the investigators or the prosecutors. Never discuss your case or anything your lawyer has told you over the telephone.

County and City Jails are as different as each County in Mississippi. Some of the jails are run in a harsh manner. The guards are very mean to the inmates and the privileges are very limited. Other jails are more relaxed and the guards have a easy attitude toward the inmates. If you have a loved one or friend in a City or County Jail ask about the inmate and family rules. You may need to get on an inmate visitation list. The visitation days might be limited to a single day. Nothing is going to be easy if someone you know is in jail. Knowing the rules can help make the process easier.

Merrida Coxwell is the managing partner of Coxwell & Associates. The offices of Coxwell & Associates is located in Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi. The five attorneys regularly practice in Rankin and Madison County, as well as across the State of Mississippi. For a free consultation call 601-948-1600.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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