My family member has been arrested-What do I do?
If your family member/friend calls you and says that he/she has been arrested, help him/her stay calm and offer your help and support.
If your family member/friend is incarcerated, he/she will have already been screened for mental illness, as well as other health-related issues. Every person brought into the jail for booking is interviewed by a registered nurse. It is very important that those brought into custody be forthright and honest to benefit as much as possible from the health services offered within the jail system. Assure your family member that it is OK to discuss his/her physical and mental condition, diagnosis and medications with the medical staff conducting the screening. It is important that your family member feels safe to speak openly with the mental health screeners.
Inmate information can be obtained through the jail’s administrative booking unit, (408) 299-2306. Please note that this line is very busy and patience is necessary. The other option is to visit the administrative booking office at 885 North San Pedro Street, San Jose, CA 95110. The office is open to the public 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. It’s very important to obtain the department’s booking number and personal file number for your family member/friend as these numbers are the key tools for locating inmates in the jail system.
Click on the Inmate Medication Information Form link on this page. Print, complete and fax as instructed below. If this form is not available: Immediately prepare a fax requesting that your relative/friend be screened for placement in the mental health unit. Begin this fax with your relative/friend’s:
- Full legal name
- Date of Birth
- Booking Number
In the body of the fax include:
- His/her diagnosis
- His/her psychiatrist's name, phone number and address
- Prescribed medication (name, dosage and time of day to be administered)
- Whether a particular medication has proven to be ineffective or has dangerous and/or uncomfortable side effects
- Any history of suicide attempts/threats or other violent intentions in the recent past
- Briefly describe the events and when they occurred
- Any other urgent medical conditions that might require immediate attention, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, seizures, heart problems, etc., and medications currently presecribed for those conditions.
- Your relative/friend’s medical doctor’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. The medical information you provide is tremendously valuable in making an assessment and will help the mental health staff select the best treatment for your relative. There is a clear preference for maintaining effective current treatment. However, the Jail Mental Health staff must conduct its own assessment of your relative/friend’s condition and may not necessarily prescribe exactly the same medications.
- Keep a copy of this fax for future reference.
- On the cover page, indicate whether your relative/friend has provided you with a written confidentiality waiver. If your relative/friend has not previously done so, ask that he/she be asked to sign one while in jail. The Jail Mental Health staff is prohibited by law from giving anyone information about a client’s status unless they have the client’s consent, but the staff can receive information from relatives or friends without the client’s consent.
Fax the Inmate Medication Information Form to the appropriate numbers below. Faxes can be sent 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Elmwood (Men's and Women's) Mental Health: (408) 263-9148
Main Jail Mental Health: (408) 808-5234
Please note that the Jail Mental Health Services and Medical Services are separate departments. Important medical information should be faxed to:
Elmwood (Men's and Women's) Medical: (408) 946-8023
Main Jail Medical: (408) 808-5236
If there are problems encountered with this process, call the Mental Health Services Supervisor during regular business hours:
Main Jail (408) 808-5207
Elmwood (408) 957-5335
Medical administrative offices can be reached at the following phone numbers:
Main Jail (408) 808-5200
Elmwood (408) 957-5360
Legal Representation: Your family member or friend may want to retain a private attorney or use the Public Defender’s office. A public defender will be assigned at the arraignment if your relative does not have or cannot afford a private attorney. Do not be afraid to use a public defender. Public defenders often have knowledge of the system as it pertains to those who need mental health services.
Working with an Attorney: Public defenders are extremely busy and do not have much time for phone calls. They will appreciate written or faxed correspondence. Remember, it is the inmate, not you, who is his client. A private attorney will grant you more time, but remember you are paying for that access. Provide the attorney with an extensive medical/psychiatric/social/educational history of your family member or friend in writing. The phone number for the Public Defender’s office is (408) 299-7700. The fax number is (408) 999-0364. Supporting and coping with a loved one who suffers from a brain disorder can be extremely challenging and stressful. Knowledge and understanding will be essential in helping you to become a strong and effective support system for your family member. For information about support groups and educational programs provided free of charge, contact National Alliance for the Mentally Ill via the internet at www.namicalifornia.org.