Dekalb County Jail
Life in the Dekalb County Jail
Life isn't easy in the Dekalb County Jail (but then again, is life ever easy in jail?). If you know somebody going to Dekalb after being convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor, though, this information could help them survive and get through it without it being too traumatizing of an experience.
Dealing with other inmates
First things first - you are probably wondering how safe your friend or family member will be in Dekalb. Surprisingly, you probably don't need to be worried about violence between inmates in the Dekalb jail. Most inmates agree that if you can just keep to yourself or make a couple of friends you'll have nothing to worry about. That should be every inmate's first goal.
What you don't want to do is come in to jail thinking that everybody in there is different from you and somehow you're better than everybody else. When you start giving off that vibe you are guaranteed to alienate yourself and become a victim of ridicule and possibly violence.
Length of stay
It is almost unheard of for inmates to stay in Dekalb longer than a year at a time. Usually if you will be incarcerated for more than a year you will be sent off to prison, which is run by the state as opposed to the county. For most misdemeanors you will not receive more than a year of jail time to start with, so the only possible way to get a sentence in county jail for more than a year is to have multiple charges which the judge decides to run consecutively (and even this is pretty much unheard of - they almost always run concurrently).
Note that whatever time you are sentenced to do in Dekalb you will most likely do - unlike many overcrowded jails in the US, Dekalb does not currently have a "time off for good behavior program." So if you are sentenced to three months for a DUI, you will most likely serve three months.
The only exception is if the judge releases you early on a review - your attorney (or public defender) can request that the judge review your case as often as you like. The judge will choose to review it or not, and if he/she does then you will be brought to court again. It is not unusual for an inmate to be released upon review if the judge feels that you have learned your lesson and are a low risk for re-offending.
You know how in TV shows when people are booked into jail they always get one free phone call? Not in Dekalb - you have pretty regular access to telephones (every day), but the calls cost about $3/each and they are billed collect. In return for $3 you get about 15 minutes of talk time.
Now, if you are incarcerated for a week or so this probably won't break the bank, but if you are going to be behind bars for several months, this really adds up. Be prepared financially for the hardship that comes with having a friend or family member behind bars and make sure to discuss the frequency of phone calls with the inmate. The inmate might think it's OK, for instance, to call every day, but if that is costing you too much money you should tell them and set a schedule. Just not answering the phone when they call because it's too expensive could send the wrong message to the inmate that you aren't being supportive.
This is one area where Dekalb is better than a lot of county jails - you can receive up to three visitors per week. In fact, you can have up to three visits per week (which up to 3 visitors at each one), so in theory you could see nine different people a week. This is a lot for a county jail (usually you are limited to one or two visits per week).
Contact the jail to find out what your inmate's visitation days are - they rotate by last name so the queue doesn't get too backlogged. They do not have contact visits so you will be talking to the inmate through a window - be prepared for that.
Food in jail is always terrible and Dekalb is no exception. If you want to do something nice for an inmate you should put some money on their books (you should be able to just take some cash to the jail and they will put it on the inmate's account). With money on their books an inmate can buy commissary and have something to eat other than what they normally feed them.
This also gives them something they can trade with if they need anything else. Occasionally inmates gamble with commissary, but this is against jail policies and they could get in trouble.
Jail sucks but it isn't the end of the world - if you know somebody going to Dekalb just make sure you are supportive and take a few minutes each week to either talk to them on the phone or write a quick letter. This will go a long way to helping them get through their time and, more importantly, research shows that inmates with support groups are much less likely to re-offend.
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