I will be doing a short 1 week stint in a NJ County Jail and I’m wondering about preparation - Am I allowed to bring anything with me - clothing, books, toiletries, etc? I wear contact lenses (currently have no glasses) and have a prescription to an SSRI which I take daily; what can be done to accomodate these needs?
I would call ahead and ask for information regarding your contacts and medications. Otherwise, don’t take anything with you you’re not willing to lose.
Since there is no one correct answer to your question, let’s move this to IMHO.
samclem GQ moderator
Call or visit the jail and ask them all these questions, or get your lawyer to do so. All jails have different policies and procedures. Many places don’t allow you to bring much of anything in for security reasons.
Money (for the vending machines), Travel size shampoo soap etc. I’d rather use glasses myself if I were in jail.(Sanitary issues) Can’t remember if books are cool. Maybe a deck of cards would be nice.
Do call and ask. My friend went to jail once to pay off a fine and they were very courteous and helpful to her on the phone. The actual jail time was no picnic, but at least she got it all out of the way.
Aside: SHAKES, were you in Lou-Lou? I had two students (17 and 18) spend the night there, and it was a life-changing event, to put it mildly.
Before I went, I’d stock my house to be really comfortable when I got back: my favorite foods in the fridge, clean sheets on the bed and the bed made up neatly, a good movie ready to go, whatever says comfort and “happy home”, so that you have something to look forward to.
Totally make sure to call first and ask. They should be pretty helpful.
If you do get to put money into an account, or carry any in with you, might want to make sure to take small bills; you may make the jailers’ lives easier, and/or yours.
Paperback novels are more likely to make it through security than hardback; much easier to screen for shanks. If you are allowed magazines, the kind with staples in are more likely to get confiscated than the kinds with glue for binding.
If you smoke, ask their cigarette policy. You may be allowed to take in a pack if they actually still allow it, although smoking-allowed jails are getting pretty danged rare.
While they will likely allow you to check, let’s say, a wedding ring, it’s best to leave it at home. Property clerks DO steal personal property from time to time, and getting reimbursed can be a pain in the neck.
I have never been in jail but a brother has many times. From talking to him some staples you will want include some shower shoes or cheap flip flops, white tighty whities and t-shirts with your name permantly marked somewhere hidden, and cheap slip on sneakers or sandals. Leave your vanity at home, everything you do, and I mean everything, will be visible to someone.
My experience with county jail sucked. In the day I had quite a few DUI’s and finally had to pay the piper after being “too good” to pick up trash on the roadside. The day I got transported my glasses broke. I was basically blind, not a good thing when you need to watch your back. My then BF came and brought me clean underwear, my glasses, a tooth and hairbrush and maybe some magazines. All they gave me were the glasses. Medical necessity, I guess. I don’t think they will allow you to bring in any luxuries. I think they will dispense the meds on the schedule shown on the bottle.
If you want to make the time pass quickly, pretend you’re a serious alkie (tell them you drink a quart a day) and the nice folks will feed you valium on a frequent schedule, thus allowing you to pretty much sleep away the time. I also chose the book by Charles Manson to read, which made the others in my bunk kind of wary of me. But I swear, SWEAR I tell you, that at night I could hear people saying (I thought to me) that they were gonna break my arms and bust my face. Couldn’t see who it was though so I was on the speaker whining for help all the time. Freaked me out good. NEVER want to do that again. Good luck, keep your nose clean and stay to yourself. A good maniacal book might keep the scummys away. Oh, and the food is terrible. Airline food is delicious in comparison.
Thank you for the replies everyone.
To those who have been inside: how did you handle boredom? My understanding is that county jail doesnt have regimented activities like a prison and people just lounge around with nothing to do.
Does a short stay like mine get a proper cell or a big holding pen?
I’m going in today and the jail phone lines are all automated so I can’t get a human being to ask questions to currently.
Per my husband, you watch a LOT of TV.
Like a big dorm room. You’re not in a cell - you’re in a “barracks” kind of thing. This is Cook County, IL - I can’t tell you about where you are.
Don’t they have a website? Seriously - google 'em. Your county sheriff should have a website - they should be able to tell you too.
Well, the poor guy is likely inside now. I hope it’s uneventful and he manages to catch up on all those episodes of Maury Povich he never watched before…