Meeting someone in jail: what a ridiculous process

The jail visitation process is obviously not made with the visitor’s convenience in mind. And definitely not with the detainee’s convenience in mind.

I have to meet with someone who’s in jail. (Don’t ask. It’s not anyone I’m close to but I’ve got to talk to this person.) Actually, I’m not even sure if it’s jail or detention center or holding or what. So here’s how it works in Larimer County:

  • You cannot call someone in jail. You can send them a snail mail letter or you can schedule a visit with them.
  • Regardless of when the person is arrested, you can only call to schedule a visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11am-1pm. This is not when you can visit, this is when you can call.
  • Visits happen on Wednesdays and Thursdays (scheduled on Tuesday) and on Saturdays and Tuesdays (scheduled on Thursdays). The hours are not clear to me but I was given a choice of 8:30-10:30 on Wednesday morning or some time Thursday evening.
  • Each person is allowed one visitor a day.
  • It’s first come, first serve. I got advice to start calling at two minutes to 11:00 and to keep hitting redial until I got through. I hit redial for 12 minutes and then was on hold for another 15 minutes or so.
  • The detainee has no say. You don’t have to prove any relationship or business either. So if you want to screw someone in jail, I suppose you could just go see them everyday so they could never see their friends or family.
  • You can’t carry in anything like paper or pen or pencil. I need a name and phone number so I guess I’ll have to memorize it somehow!

So this person was arrested last week. Wednesday is the first time anyone can visit them and it’s going to be a stranger. Obviously they must have some cause for the arrest but there’s been no trial and no conviction. And yet, they have no freedom. (Note, they haven’t posted bail which I believe is an option.)

Moral of the story: don’t get arrested. It looks like you lose most of your rights in the process.

UPDATE: You have to go through a metal detector but they turned it off for my group because one of the women had a pace maker. They then took us upstairs in an elevator with no buttons. (The women walkie-talkied to someone who controlled it remotely.) They then dropped us off (and left us) in a room with four windows with stools in front and telephones. The windows faced the main detention center with all the prisoners walking around on the other side. You talk through the telephone to the prisoner on the other side – just like the movies. We were left there for 30 minutes. I finished my business in 30 seconds and I had a few minutes of "oh, no!" when I realized there was no way to call the elevator back or leave the room. After a few minutes of searching I found the intercom button and managed to get them to send the elevator back up for me.

Nobody would have noticed if I’d carried in a pen and paper.