There will be nothing more difficult than either being found guilty at trial or pleading guilty and having to go to jail. Even if you do accept responsibility for your crime, it is fair to say that no one wants to ever have to serve even one day in jail. But what happens when your nightmare becomes a reality? What can you do to prepare yourself and your family for the day that you must go to jail?

If you are out of custody in state court and must serve time in jail or prison, you will be taken into custody in the courtroom on the date that the Judge orders. In federal court, assuming that you were initially released on bond, the Judge could take you into custody after you have either entered a change of plea from not guilty to guilty, after a jury trial where you have been found guilty or at your sentencing hearing. For those that are lucky, they will be allowed to remain out on bond and self-surrender to their designated prison facility. Designation will take at a minimum three weeks, but could take longer, especially with COVID-19. The benefit of being allowed to surrender directly to your designated facility comes when you are assigned to a prison camp. It is much nicer to go directly to a prison that is a minimum-security level than having to surrender locally, to a harsher jail, and wait until you can be transported.

While every jail has its own rules and will be run a little differently, the general rules will be similar. One of my female clients, in an attempt to help others new to the process, wrote the following to assist families with loved ones that will be entering FDC Miami:

“There is no way that we could have prepared you 100% for your incarcerations, but in this case, a little information can go a long way. When you arrive at your Miami Detention Facility, you will be undergoing a registration and medical screening procedure. As you will not be able to hold on to your personal belongings and clothing or phone, we advise to have with you:

– list of your main contact numbers/email addresses

– medical record/list of medication you have to take

– glasses, as contact lenses are not allowed

First and foremost, please remain calm and cooperative as the process takes time and the better you cooperate, the faster you will get through it. Once registration, and medical screening are done, you will be given your facility uniform to change into. You can either send your own clothing to your home or donate them. You will receive your photo ID card with your register number. At this point, you will be able to make 1 free phone call of 5 minutes. Please make sure you give your ID number to your loved ones and ask them to put money into your account, using the ID number for reference, this can be done through Western Union or MoneyGram and will appear into your account within hours.

Now that you are ready to be taken to your unit, you will receive a blanket, sheet, towel and washcloth. Upon arrival at your unit, you will receive toilet paper and basic toiletries and then taken to your cell. Try to get as much rest as possible, this is a very emotional experience. Consult with the officer on duty to start setting up your phone/email account. Also, ask for the commissary procedure to get your first order processed at the soonest. It is very cold in the units, so you may want to order a sweat suit as well.

Remember that this is a detention facility and strict rules and schedules apply, as well as sanctions when rules are not followed. You will soon learn that patience and respect are key elements of your stay. Carry yourself with confidence and remain respectful to staff and inmates. This is a place where people of all walks of life have to co-exist. Stay out of trouble, stick to the rules even if people will try to persuade you to do otherwise. Think of your long-term goals and life with your loved ones.

Please talk to your counselor and find out about training, jobs and programs offered. This is an investment in yourself and helps pass the time in a very productive manner. Ask friends and family to send you books/magazines or borrow from the library/inmates. You can also ask for a talk with religious or psychology staff. All these requests are done through the email system. Take all steps within the system to get to freedom as soon as possible. Wishing you well!”

Going through this process will be stressful, not only for you but for your entire family. At

Puglisi Law we are here to help our clients navigate the process. We are happy to discuss your case with you. You can contact us today.