A Loved One Is In Jail. What Should You Do Next?

Contributed Post


Nobody enjoys the thought of seeing a loved one in jail. Still, the fact of the matter is that over 2 million Americans are serving time behind bars while double that figure are on parole or probation. While incarceration is very tough on the inmate, it can be a very challenging time for friends and relatives too. That’s why knowing how to react in these circumstances is so vital.  

While no two situations are identical, there are a number of common factors to consider. As such, here’s how you should respond to the fact that a loved one is in jail.  

Decide Whether You Want To Have Contact

Let’s face it; seeing a loved one in jail is a serious issue. Many are behind bars for driving offenses and other forgivable mistakes – at least as far as you’re concerned. Still, others have done horrible things. If your loved one has committed an assault or another serious crime, you need to ask whether you can trust them or not.    

It could be that the assault was committed in order to protect your child, for example, in which case you will probably stand by your partner. However, there are a number of crimes that may have severed any trust you have. While it may be difficult, there are times where turning your back on a loved one is the best thing you can do. Protecting the rest of your family is paramount.  

Establish Structure   

Assuming that you are going to stand by your loved one, regular contact is vital for both of you. Establishing a sense of structure is important for the inmate as it gives them a source of solace at this difficult time. On a personal note, it can play a central role in building a new weekly schedule that has been adapted to satisfy the demands of this situation.  

Face-to-face visits are integral to this structure, but you might not be in a position to commit to regular visits. After all, you have responsibilities to consider away from your loved one. Cheap inmate calls allow you to maintain a strong relationship regardless of how busy you are. Those regular updates from both sides of the jail cell can keep all parties in a calmer frame of mind.  

This is especially true if you are in the middle of fighting their case.  


Stay Positive

Maintaining a positive mindset is a lot easier said than done. However, a strong mindset is the most powerful tool in your arsenal for this battle ahead. Moreover, your loved one will be riddled with additional guilt if they can see that you aren’t coping on a mental level. Taking care of your health through a good night’s sleep and great nutrition should serve as a winning foundation. Embrace it.  

The worst thing you can do at this time is consider life without your loved one. Learn to deal with each day as it comes. Apart from the fact it will prevent your mind from being overwhelmed, it’s the best way to handle this chapter. After all, things can change very quickly throughout this period as new evidence or witnesses could become available. Or good behavior may be rewarded.  

Get Your Finances Under Control

Aside from the emotional and lifestyle repercussions, you need to consider the finances. The loss of your partners’ earnings can hit you hard, not least because there are extra costs to consider too. As such, regaining control over your financial situation is essential. It may mean cashing in your savings or asking parents to lend money. Either way, falling behind on the mortgage and bills isn’t an option.  

You need to set aside a budget for the inmate while it’s possible that you’ll need a second job to cover the lost earnings. In the meantime, you can take a proactive approach by getting rid of unnecessary products such as big home entertainment packages. Selling unwanted goods can raise valuable funds too. Once you’ve done this, an accurate calculation of income and outgoings should be made.  

Above all else, getting on top of your finances allows you to focus on the more important matters at hand.  

Get The Right Support

If your loved one is falsely accused or being harshly held in jail after a minor crime, you should fight it. While the inmate is ultimately responsible for trying to gain the best outcome, your support is pivotal. With the right support and plan of action, helping them get out of jail (legally) becomes far more likely. Furthermore, your updates on the case can motivate your loved one at this time.  


Aside from actively supporting your loved one, this is a great way to help yourself. The experts can provide accurate advice on what to expect in terms of verdicts, release terms, or jail times. Being mentally prepared for the outcome will make it far less stressful, even if it doesn’t remove the pain. Taking this route can often speed up the process too, which reduces your time in the emotional purgatory.  

Prepare For Court

The court case is where you’ll find out your destiny, and this is as important for you as it is for the inmate. Depending on the nature of the case and your presence within it, you may not be required to take the stand. Still, it’s likely that you will be asked to provide a character statement for your loved one. While it’s not the biggest piece of evidence, it can still influence the outcomes. Take it seriously.  

If you are due to take the stand, preparing for the questions is vital. Going over the events in your head until you can explain everything in a clear and honest fashion will put your mind at ease. On a separate note, you must dress for the occasion. Whether it’s a new outfit or getting an existing garment dry cleaned is up to you. Either way, looking presentable is crucial.  

It is a scary time, but removing the element of surprise can have a positive impact on your emotions. Even if it doesn’t influence the verdict.  

Embrace The Supportive Network  

This is a very difficult time in your life, and none of it is your fault. While you have to deal with the responsibility of explaining things to the children and other family members, you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty. On the contrary, your friends and relatives should be there to support you on an emotional level. If they don’t want to help during your time of need, you’ll have to reconsider the relationship.  

Their support can manifest in many ways. From helping with housework and childminding to simply listening to your concerns. In addition to existing friend groups, there are plenty of real-world and online communities for people that have loved ones in jail. Talking to people that are in a similar situation to yours can be very beneficial. If nothing else, it proves that you are not alone.

Live Your Life  

Whether this is going to be a temporary situation or a more permanent ordeal, you must not punish yourself. It’s OK to celebrate birthdays or climb the career ladder while a loved one is in prison. If anything, telling the inmate about those things will put a smile on their face. It shows that you are surviving while also allowing them to live vicariously through you. Their life is boring right now.  



Your loved one is struggling with the fact that they can’t be there, but being involved in the story offers a small slice of comfort. Meanwhile, you should be secure enough to discuss any issues you’re having. Their advice can be very useful, not least because they have more time to think about things from a logical perspective than you do.    

Punishing yourself is the last thing your loved one wants to see you do.  


For the duration that your loved one is behind bars, your presence is the greatest gift of all. The inmate cannot discuss their concerns to other inmates, which is why you need to listen. Calming your loved one down and relaying relevant info can work wonders too. Above all else, though, they just want to be listened to. Knowing that you still have their back counts for everything at this time.  

Try to keep your loved one in a positive frame of mind. Again, regular contact and post will help you achieve this goal. If they have asked something, go away and investigate it. Even if it’s something as simple as dealing with an issue they’ve experienced inside, the impact is huge. Regardless of how long they are inside, knowing you’ve made their time more comfortable should leave you smiling too.  

The Final Word

This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved, and you’ll hopefully gain the outcome you desire. In the meantime, following the right path for your circumstances can make this nightmare a little more bearable. Right now, this has to be considered a success.