[Note: This informational guide was not written by attorneys. It was derived/excerpted from information provided by Fresno County Department of Human Services information for families of the mentally ill.
What to do when someone is arrested and taken to jail
- Remind them to remain silent and not talk about the case throughout their stay in jail.
- Anything they say can be used against them.
- Be polite and work with the attorney assigned to defend them. Anything they say to the attorney is protected by confidentiality.
What to do if your family member is in jail
- Offer Support. Tell them to stay calm, and not to say anything related to the case to anybody until he/she has spoken to an attorney who will be representing him in court.
- Encourage cooperation with the Jail Medical Services, if he/she needs some type of medical-mental illness assistance. Tell them to fill out a green inmate request form and give to a correctional officer. If he has psychiatric problems fax the Jail Psych Services (559) 442-5277. Provide name, birthday and booking number; Doctor’s name; diagnosis and any medication prescription and dosage; and time of day to be administered to the inmate. List any urgent medical conditions that might require immediate attention such as diabetes, high blood pressure, seizures and heart problems.
- Call the Fresno County Jail information Phone Line (559) 488-3031.
- Stay on the line until you speak to someone and inform them of the inmates medical or mental illness conditions. Describe the diagnoses and any other concern you might have.
County Jail Information
- Go to www.fresnosheriff.org and click on Inmate information center. Enter the inmates Booking number or Last Name (required) and first name. You can also call the Inmate line at (559) 488-3031.
- To obtain court date information please call (559) 488-3388.
Inmate Money Information
- If you plan to put money on the books for the inmate. You must bring a U.S. Postal Money Order made payable in the inmates name which they are booked under, and include the inmate’s date of birth and booking number. No other forms of payment are accepted.
Inmate Mail Information
- Address the envelope with the inmates name and booking number and mail to P.O. Box 872, Fresno CA 93721. There is no limit on amount of mail an inmate can receive or send.
- All mail is inspected for contraband and if found, and will not be returned to sender.
- Items NOT ALLOWED: any sexually explicit material or photographs, postage stamps, stickers, or any item that is illegal or would cause a security risk. No Polaroid photographs are allowed. Legally blind individuals may send and receive first-class mail through the U.S. Postal Service at no cost.
Jail Chaplain Information
- Provides inmate with spiritual guidance, only and cannot give jail inmate information. To contact them call 488-3860.
- Visiting hours are from 9am to 9 pm however visiting sign ups end at 8:15 p.m. and no visits are allowed after that time. Visiting is allowed from Saturday to Friday. Each inmate can place up to three names and can change names at any time. The inmate is allowed two, half hour (2×1/2hour) visits per week.
- Visitors must have name on list and must be over 18 years of age. Inmate’s children are allowed to visit with person on the Inmate’s visitors list. All visitors must present valid identification upon request from staff. Attorneys are required to stay with the inmate/client until the officers return inmate to jail housing unit.
- It takes from 4-12 hours for inmate initial housing jail placement. No visiting is allowed until then. Unusual high level of jail activity can delay this further.
- Visitors must check in at the jail located on the northwest corner of M and Fresno Street. Check the computer at the kiosk for the inmate’s booking number and name. If unable to locate him, try other names your relative has used.
- Tip: always bring quarters for the parking meters and for a locker to store your personal belongings which are not allowed into jail. Photo ID is required. You can stand in line to sign up for visiting as soon as you have the booking number. -Keep in mind that the jail is a maximum security facility.
- Fresno County does not have a “book and release” policy. If you are taken there, you will stay there for a period of time. The jail staff doesn’t often know when the person will be released until a release is ordered from the Court and that depends on when the Court orders the release. The jail staff will not make any phone calls to inform family members that the inmate will be released. The inmate can make a phone call to the family letting them know they will be released.
Deciding on Legal Representation.
- If the inmate does not have any money to retain an attorney, a public defender will be assigned to the case. Do not be afraid to use a public defender. In some cases, if there is a conflict of interest, i.e. too many defendants, the inmate might be appointed an attorney from “the conflicts” attorney staff to represent him/her. The current “conflicts” firm in Fresno County is Barker and Associates. If a “conflicts” attorney is appointed there is no cost to the client. Baker and Associates can be reached at (559) 441-0114.
- If assigned a public Defender, remember they are always busy and do not have much time for phone calls. They will appreciate faxes or written correspondence. Remember the inmate is the PD’s client not you. You can find out who the PD assigned is by calling (559) 488-3546. You can mail the PD the inmate’s extensive medical/psychiatric and social/educational history in writing. This information can be sent to the PD assigned to represent the inmate by writing to 2220 Tulare Street, Suite 300, Fresno CA 97721. Information can be faxed to (5590 262-4104. Include the inmate’s name and birthday.
- The family can always retain their own private attorney to defend the inmate. If so make sure the attorney has the right qualifications for this. Although a private attorney will grant you more time than a PD, but remember you are paying for that access. Provide the attorney with the inmate’s extensive medical/psychiatric and social/educational history in writing.