How to Help a Loved One in an Detention Center

detention center

The United States has more prisoners than any other nation in the world. Over 2 million people are currently being held in jails across the country.

It’s fairly common to have a loved one in prison, and it can deeply affect your life in many ways. You may be scared, ashamed, or even embarrassed by the situation.

No matter how you feel, it’s important to stay strong and show support for your loved one in a detention center.

Read on to learn how you can do it.

Stay Positive

Detention will undoubtedly be difficult for your loved one. They have their personal agency stripped away which can result in feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness, and depression.

To combat this, you should always try to communicate positive messages to your loved one. It might be hard given the circumstances, but they need you to be there to offer words of encouragement.

With your help, they might be able to maintain good behavior that earns them an early release on parole or put their time to good use by earning a degree or learning a trade.

By staying positive, you can help your loved one make sure that their time in detention isn’t completely devoid of hope. 

Arrange a Visit

Detention is always a dehumanizing experience. It can have devastating effects on the mental health of your loved one.

Visiting them while they’re in prison will help fight the helplessness that they’re sure to feel. Being able to look you in the eye and place their hand against the plexiglass is the kind of experience that can help them get through the toughest of times.

Visitation will help improve inmates’ behavior, which can help your loved one earn an earlier release. It’s also proven to lower rates of recidivism, meaning inmates who receive visitors are less likely to re-offend and end up back in jail. 

Send a Gift Package

Another way to show support for a detained loved one is to send them a care package.

Unfortunately, many detention centers prohibit sending personalized items to keep banned substances out of the facility. You’ll have to deal with a vendor that specializes in care packages that contain pre-approved items.

While this might not seem ideal, your loved one is sure to appreciate the gift. These packages often contain items like food, personal hygiene products, and entertainment like radios and books.

Write a Letter

If you want to demonstrate personal support, you can always send your loved one a letter. It’s the best (and sometimes only) way to stay in contact with a detained individual.

If you decide to write a letter, be sure to follow the detention center’s rules regarding them. If you don’t, your letter might not make it to your loved one.

These rules typically include using the appropriately sized paper and envelope and writing your loved one’s ID number on the envelope.

You’ll also be able to include a small number of other items. These can include pictures of you and other family members, newspaper clippings, and drawings. It’s a great way to have intimate, personalized communication.

Keep in mind that there are many things you should not include with the letter. Don’t send things like jewelry, media like CDs and DVDs, or illegal substances. You’re also not allowed to spray the letter with cologne or perfume.

Send Money

Despite being cut off from the outside world, many inmates still have access to a commissary to buy essential items. They rely on their family members to send them money to shop.

They can obtain things like microwavable soup and deodorant to make their time behind bars a little more bearable. This can go a long way in preserving their mental health.

If you write your loved one a letter while they’re detained, they’ll need some money to be able to write back to you. They’ll be able to buy paper, writing utensils, and stamps at the commissary.

You’ll need a few basic pieces of information to send your loved one money. These include their ID number, their account number, and their current account balance. Many institutions have a maximum balance prisoners aren’t allowed to exceed.

Share Your Life

After being detained for a significant amount of time, your loved one will crave hearing stories about life outside the prison walls. Don’t be shy about sharing any little detail about your life when you visit or write a letter. 

Share your successes and things that brought you joy. Maybe you just got a promotion or your child just had a birthday. Your loved one will be thrilled to hear about it.

You should even share the bad news. It’ll help keep you connected with them, and listening to you vent about your problems provides them with an escape from theirs. 

Remember Their Birthday

Remembering your loved one’s birthday can go a long way in fighting the dehumanization that occurs in detention.

You don’t have to go all-out planning a visit and making an event of it. Oftentimes, a simple note is enough to make a difference. 

Keep Supporting Those in a Detention Center

Being held in a detention center will be a trying time for your loved one. They’ll experience dehumanization, depression, and hopelessness about their situation.

You can help make their time a bit easier by showing your support. Plan a visit if you can, remember to write, and be sure to share details of life outside.

No matter how you choose to support them, always make sure you include a positive message. It’ll make a big difference.

Once your loved one is released, they may be given an ankle monitor as a condition of their parole. Kapa Technologies provides top-of-the-line GPS ankle monitors to law enforcement and bail bond agencies. Check out our website to learn more about us.

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