Hearing that a loved one has been arrested and taken to jail is not the news anyone wants to hear. According to the Department of Justice, over 2 million children have an incarcerated parent.
This is a difficult, emotional time for everyone involved. Knowing the facts can help you make important decisions without panicking. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with the practical issues you’ll be facing.
How can I find the jail my baby’s father is at?
Your baby’s father is probably in a county or city jail. That’s where most people go when they’re arrested. It’s where they wait to go to trial or a pretrial hearing.
If he gets a sentence that’s less than a year, he will probably complete it at that same jail. Or if he gets a longer sentence, he will transfer to a state or federal prison.
If you don’t know where your baby’s father is, call the non-emergency number of the police department that arrested him. They will have a record of his arrest and the jail where they took him.
Can I bail my baby’s father out of jail?
Yes, you can. The fastest, easiest way to do this is to call a bail bond agent. To get a bail bond, you must pay a percentage of the total bail amount. It’s usually 10% of the total. For instance, if the bail is $10,000, you can spring your loved one for $1000.
Bail bond businesses operate 24-7. It’s easy to find one. There are dozens of them posted online, on TV, and bulletin boards around most courthouses. Some bail bond agreements require an asset like a house or a car. That’s to pay to the bail amount if the inmate doesn’t show up.
Missing a court date is known as bail jumping or bail skipping, and it’s a very bad idea. If you suspect your baby’s father might skip bail, don’t use your hard-earned money to bail him out.
Keep in mind:
- You’re on the hook for the full bail amount if your baby’s father doesn’t show up for his court date.
- A bail bondsman has the legal authority to do whatever is necessary to find the bail skipper.
- If you put up an asset like a car or house, the court will take it.
Can I visit my baby’s father in jail?
Yes, and it’s a good idea. Studies find inmates with strong family support are better able to cope with the stress of jail. Those inmates also have a better chance of rehabilitation when they get out.
Visiting is a good idea, but it’s important to know the jail’s rules. Some jails only allow visitors on the inmate’s designated visitor list. If you’re not on that list, you can only visit if you’re an attorney or a bail bonding agent.
What are the rules at other jails?
At other jails, you don’t have to be on a designated list. You can show up any time during designated visiting hours. Many jails are in far-off, rural areas. Make sure you know the rules and the visiting hours before you make the long drive or bus trip.
Some jails no longer use live visitation. They use video visitation that allows you and your loved one to share a live conversation through a computer, laptop, or smartphone.
Follow the rules if you visit your baby’s father in jail!
Jails have strict rules for all visitors. Keep the following in mind:
- You will undergo a search before you can enter the jail. If you drove your car, deputies will search it.
- You must bring proper identification.
- You must leave your cell phone in your car or at the front desk.
- Do not wear tight or revealing clothing.
Most jails have a list of items you can’t bring with you. These items typically include:
- Cell phones or pagers.
- Books or magazines
- Outside food of any kind.
- Alcohol, drugs, or tobacco.
- Pens and pencils.
- Pictures or photographs.
Can my baby come to the jail to visit his father?
You can bring your baby if you have proof that the inmate is his or her father. You may have to bring a copy of your baby’s birth certificate.
Going to jail can be a frightening experience for a small child. Keep the situation light by staying cheerful. Try to stay positive. Let your baby’s father and your baby spend meaningful time together.
Can I call my baby’s father on the phone if he’s in jail?
You can have phone conversations with an inmate. The rules depend on the jail. In some jails, inmates use a regular payphone during designated times. In others, the jails require inmates to submit a calling list. They use a third-party phone service that will only call those numbers.
Since every jail is different, find out what the rules are for phone calls. Don’t forget your phone calls to an inmate will probably be recorded.
What happens to child support if my baby’s father goes to jail?
If your baby’s father has assets or other sources of income, he must continue paying child support. In most cases, you won’t get any because people in jail can’t earn money. You should look for any public assistance that might be available in your state.
You’ll get through this tough time.
If your baby’s father is in jail, you could be facing emotional and financial stress. This is the time to look for support from your friends, family, and state agencies. Reach out for help in this difficult time.