Jail or Prison Preparation What to Know

If you or a loved one has been sent to a correctional facility, you may have a lot of worries, fears, and doubts swirling through your mind. After all, you’ve probably seen a movie or two that doesn’t paint the prison system in the most flattering light. Although it can be scary to go behind bars for the first time, it’s something that people do every day. While you might feel like you’re all alone navigating this system, there are plenty of people who can make you feel at ease about what you or your loved one is about to enter even if you still may have reservations and anxieties cropping up along the way.

Difference Between Jail and Prison

Some folks who have been charged with crimes may end up going to jail while others might go to prison. For those who are new to the criminal justice system, it may help to call a bail bond company to help you figure out the difference between these two facilities in terms of your situation. For those who are waiting for their sentence and other proceedings on a short-term basis, jail may be where they stay until they are moved to a long-term correctional facility like prison or released into the general public. On the other hand, prison is where folks serve their long-term sentences, usually for federal crimes like felonies.

Anecdotally, some inmates find that prisons can be a more comfortable place to stay because they may have better-maintained facilities in some areas. They may also separate populations more so that those who only need to be in a low-security facility won’t have to live with people who may have committed more violent crimes that require them to stay in maximum-security facilities.

Since prisons tend to house inmates for longer periods, they may have more activities, amenities, and other aspects of their routines that can make them more comfortable for folks who are staying there. Jails, on the other hand, may not have these resources because they are designed for inmates to stay on a short-term basis. Sometimes, jails may be located in the county where one was charged with a crime. This can make them more accessible for loved ones to visit inmates than prisons which may be statewide facilities that are located further away from one’s community.

Overall, if you’re going to prison or jail, you shouldn’t expect to have a good time or treat it like a vacation. Every jail, prison, and correctional facility will have things that make it uncomfortable for most inmates. After all, the purpose of a correctional facility is to house inmates who may have committed horrible crimes. If it was too comfortable, folks might try to commit crimes to stay there as some experts in the field have argued. Naturally, prisons and jails should still respect the human rights of those who occupy them and not get too uncomfortable.

What is Bail?

When you go to prison or jail, you may hear the term “bail bond agent” getting thrown around. If you’ve never been to prison or jail, you might not know who this type of person is or what they do. This type of agent will help you to get a bail bond, which may help you cover all or some of your bail expenses.

For those who go to prison or jail, making bail is especially important. When you make bail, you can leave the facility and potentially have an easier time planning how you will defend yourself against these charges with your attorney or legal team. With certain kinds of charges, you may not be eligible for bail. You’ll have to consult with an attorney to see if you could make bail and what the conditions of it would be before you assume that you’ll be able to get it.

In most cases, you’ll have a limited amount of time when you’ll be eligible for bail. After that period expires, you won’t be able to leave the facilities. This is why it’s important to look into every option available to pay for bail from your loved ones to your savings accounts to bail bond services to cover it. Even if you have to take on some debt or put yourself in a financial position that might not be as favorable as you’d like it to be, it could be worth it if it means that you have the best chance possible of defending yourself against criminal charges and resuming the life you intended to lead.

What Are Your Charges?

Before you can start looking for an affordable bail bond service in your area, you’ll need to know the nature of the charges on your record. You can usually find these charges in the paperwork that you’re given when you first arrive at jail. Your loved ones and attorney should also be able to find your specific charges if they look up your docket on a docket database.

If you’re trying to figure out what your charges are on a docket database, you should know that it can take some time for these databases to update after changes have been made. While you’re in jail or prison, you can also get new charges if you don’t follow the rules or behave appropriately. Some of these charges will follow you after you leave prison while others may only be relevant in the prison system. Additionally, new charges may affect your sentence length and other terms of your sentence, so you should communicate immediately with your attorney if you suspect that you may have fresh charges that need to be addressed.

Can You Afford Bail?

When you’re interviewing potential bail bond services, you may feel disappointed about the feedback they give you regarding how much it will cost to get a bail bond. Some bail bonds will require you to pay a specific percentage of what the original bond was set to be. In this case, you should rely on family members, friends, and community members to help you cover this charge if you can’t. Otherwise, you may end up having to spend more time in jail or prison and have a harder time affording your family’s expenses with the amount of time that you’re missing from work and other activities.

What is Commissary?

If you’ve ever watched a show that took place in jail or prison, you’ve probably seen inmates on the show going to the commissary. As you may know, prison and jail food can leave something to be desired, to put it nicely. Most prisons and jails don’t prioritize making their food appetizing in comparison to ensuring that their food follows all the nutritional requirements set forth by legal entities. When you go to prison, you can use the items you can purchase through the facilities to supplement what you get in your trays every day.

Once you get to prison, you can purchase a range of different items. If you have a nicotine addiction, you may be able to purchase safe e-cigarettes for prisons in the commissary. Some commissaries will have specific items that they offer while others might allow you to order the items you want from a catalog or online form. Depending on where you go to prison, you may be able to have certain items sent to you by family members.

Do You Have a Lawyer?

When you violate a criminal law, you need to contact an attorney immediately. Even if you haven’t been caught or charged with a crime, you’ll want to take advantage of the time you have to start building a defense that may serve you well later. Although lawyers can be expensive, there may be ways to get legal counsel without paying a fortune in the process if you are a low-income individual who meets certain criteria.

For those who enter the criminal justice system as a defendant against criminal charges, having a lawyer is one of your rights. Still, there’s a difference between having any lawyer you can afford and having a lawyer who has the skills and qualifications to properly defend your case. If you have a complex case, it can benefit you to hire an attorney who seems like they will be able to get you the most favorable outcome, even if that means you’ll have to spend more money on legal fees and expenses than you would have liked.

Once you enter the criminal justice system, you’ll have a limited amount of time to build a case and prepare for trial or hearings. Because time is of the essence in the legal system, you won’t want to delay getting a lawyer. Every day that you wait to get a lawyer is a day that you may have used to research legal options and prepare for the next steps in the case.

Does Your Lawyer Specialize in Your Case?

While it might seem like any lawyer is better than no lawyer, you’ll want an attorney who knows the area of law that you violated. For example, if you have a DUI case on your hands, you’ll want to consult with a DUI attorney rather than an attorney who specializes in the area of law that deals with fraud or business law. When you work with an attorney who specializes in the area of law that you violated or that relates to your charges, you’ll find it much easier to explore potential options for a plea deal or other negotiation with your local court system.

Sometimes, an attorney who specializes in your area of law may also already have a strong relationship with the District Attorney and others who may impact your case. In this situation, he or she may be able to advocate for your best interests with the current rapport that they bring to the table. An attorney who specializes in your area of law may also be able to give specialized advice that could either help you stay realistic about the potential outcome of your case or have greater hope for a positive outcome.

Have You Met With Your Lawyer?

Sometimes, you may meet with a lawyer before you have even spoken with the police regarding potential criminal charges. In other cases, the first time you meet your criminal defense attorney will be when you’re already behind bars awaiting trial or other proceedings. Regardless of when you meet with a lawyer for the first time, you should come prepared to the meeting with questions about the lawyer’s experience, perspective on your case, and anything else that’s relevant to the discussion.

Your Trial

When you’ve hired a criminal defense lawyer for a case, he or she might advise you to take the case to trial. While not every criminal charge leads to a trial, many charges do lead to a trial. Before you go to trial, your attorney should coach you on how to defend yourself and what not to say in a court of law.

The legal advice he or she gives should be tailored to your specific situation. If you don’t feel ready for the trial, you should express your concerns to your attorney. He or she may be able to support you in preparing more for trial or ask for an extension.


For operating while intoxicated charges, you’ll need an OWI defense attorney. Even after the trial, you may have parole or probation obligations that make it wise to stay in touch with your attorney. After a trial, you may still have to stay in prison for a sentence if you’re found guilty, so you should stay neutral about the outcome until it’s over.

When you need to go to jail or prison, there may not be anything available that can truly prepare you. If you’re used to living a life where you can choose what you’ll do every day and what you want to have for dinner, recreation, and who you want in your social circle, you’ll find prison and jail to be a disconcerting change of pace. After a while, you’ll settle into your routine in prison or jail. It may never feel like home, but it may feel less scary and unusual over time as you serve out your sentence there.

If you or a loved one has been sent to a correctional facility, you may have a lot of worries, fears, and doubts swirling through your mind. After all, you’ve probably seen a movie or two that doesn’t paint the prison system in the most flattering light. Although it can be scary to go behind…

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