103 E. Holly, Suite 512 Bellingham, WA 98225
103 E. Holly, Suite 512 Bellingham, WA 98225
Posted on July 15, 2012 by Emily Beschen

WHATCOM COUNTY JAIL INMATES RULES & ADVICE

First, take a deep breath and know that this can happen to anyone. A loved one could be in the wrong place at the wrong time, make a split second mistake, be struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.  It can be a stressful and especially frustrating time.  Emotions can run high and you probably have a lot of question.  We have pulled together the most commonly unknown areas for family members who have not yet been through the process and are trying to figure out how and where they can help.

Talking on the phone:

Do not talk to your loved one about details of their arrest or crimes on the phone. All calls are recorded. The sheriff’s department and the prosecutors will listen to those calls. Any admissions made by them will harm the defense.

Family members with good intentions can often put their loved ones in bad positions by asking questions about the crime over the phone. If your loved one refuses to answer, do not take offense and do not continue asking questions about the crime. They are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. If they start volunteering information to you, remind them that this is not a good time to discuss that and change the topic

 

Finding Legal representation:

Everyone charged with a crime has the right to an attorney to protect and represent their legal interests. While in jail people don’t get many phone calls, so you are their best bet for finding an attorney.  Ask them if you can make contact with a specific attorney for them. If they do not know a criminal defense attorney already, you can look up local attorneys  through www.google.com/localwww.lawyer.com, www.avvo.com, or one of the many other lawyer directory sites that list law firm and contact information. The attorney will be able to go in and visit with them in jail and consultations are free.

Getting them out of jail:

In the early days, the court will have a release hearing.  The court room for in custody release hearings is inside of the jail, but there is a viewing room available for you. There is a TV inside of the courtroom and inmates can see the visitors so they will know that you are there supporting them.  The court will set a bail amount.  If it is cash only bail then that full amount will need to be paid to ensure that they will return for their next court date.  If they do, that money is returned. If it is not written as cash only, then you can get them out by contacting a bailbonds company.  Generally, they require you to pay 10% of the amount set by the court and a cosigner is needed to sign. The cosigner will be responsible for the full amount of the bail if the defendant does not show up on their court date.

Sending gifts and letters:

If your loved one is going to be in custody for a longer period of time you can make them more comfortable by sending letters and gifts. Each inmate is allowed to have:

1. Five (5) library books.

2. Five (5) personal books, including religious books.

3. Three (3) magazines (library or personal combined).

4. Twenty (20) pieces of mail.

5. Reasonable amount of legal materials.

6. Two (2) newspapers. (Not more than 3 days old)

7. Two (2) pieces of edible fruit.

8. Clothing in good repair.

9. Approved pens and pencils, which are in good condition.

10. Reasonable amounts of commissary items.

11. Medical items furnished by Medical Staff.

You can purchase stamps, stationary, pencils, coffee, cookies, candy, and other items from the commissary online.  Usually the gifts are delivered the day after the order is placed. You can shop here: http://www.icaredirect.com/en-US/CorWestern/WhatcomCommissary/FAQs2/

You can send them mail to:

Whatcom County Jail
311 Grand Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98226

All mail is required to be mailed using US Postal Service. You shouldn’t use any other method of mail delivery. You have to print the prisoner’s name, inmate ID number (find here: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/sheriff/jail/roster.jsp), and jail address on the outside of the letter that you send. Do not send a box, envelope with padding or insulation, plastic bag, or an envelope with metal inside. Any mail is opened and inspected by the jail administration, and the mail will be sent back if the jail decides it is inappropriate.

Visiting:

Each inmate is allowed three one-hour visits per week at the Main Jail.  You will need to bring with you photo identification that has your birth date.

Here are the visiting hours:

Saturday
8:00 – 11:00 a.m.: Third Floor and1st Floor, All Women
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.: Second Floor Units 2A, 2B & 2C

Sunday
8:00 – 11:00 a.m.: Third Floor and1st Floor, All Women
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.: Second Floor 2D, 2E & 2F

Note*- Plan to arrive early (between 7:45 and 8:30 AM) to sign up for visitation.  You may be turned away or denied visitation if you do not arrive in time to sign up.

Check the jail roster to locate their housing assignment so you know which visiting hours will be open for them. http://www.whatcomcounty.us/sheriff/jail/roster.jsp

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Emily Beschen
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Beschen

Emily C. Beschen is an Attorney at Law Offices of Robert D. Butler, PLLC. She is licensed in both Washington State and United States Federal District Court (Western District of Washington). Her primary focus is criminal defense and she has experience representing clients accused of felonies and misdemeanors. In addition to criminal defense Emily has taken on many cases involving defense of professional licensing.

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