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Inmate Medical/Mental Health Concerns

Published on: 4/30/2018 3:32 PM
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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.

Release of Healthcare Information

Custody Health Services cannot share medical, mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment information about inmates and their health with family or friends due to federal and state privacy laws.  If the inmate is willing to share his/her healthcare information with you, he/she can fill out a “Release of Information” form and designate you as a party authorized to receive medical, mental health, and/or drug and alcohol treatment information. 

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Addtional information for "family in jail":

 

If you would like to provide the Custody healthcare providers with information about your incarcerated family member/friend’s medical/mental health condition or medication(s):


Click on the Inmate Medication Information Form link on this page. Print, complete and Fax the Inmate Medication Information Form to the appropriate numbers below. Faxes can be sent 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

  • Fax to MAIN JAIL: (408)808-5245 
  • Fax to ELMWOOD: (408)946-8023 

 

If you aren’t able to print or fax, you may instead:
 
1. Pick up a hard copy of the form from the Main Jail or Elmwood Lobby Information Desk; or
2. Prepare a fax requesting that your relative/friend be screened for a specific medical condition ​or      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 prescribed 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. 

  • Fax to MAIN JAIL: (408)808-5245 
  • Fax to ELMWOOD: (408)946-8023


If you do not have access to a fax machine, you may fill out the form and return it to the Lobby Information Desk. 

If you do not know what facility your family member/friend is housed in, you may look up the information at:  https://eservices.sccgov.org/OVR/FindInmate/Find


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​.​​​