There are few things more difficult than when you’ve rearranged your life to visit your loved one in jail only to arrive and be turned away. Lock downs are frequent occurrences in county jails, and they happen for several reasons. Whether or not you will be able to visit your inmate usually depends on whether the lock down is just for your individual inmate or is for their entire podular unit (POD) or the overall facility. A lock down might occur for several reasons, including:
Jails use lock downs to enforce rules. If your inmate talks back to the guards, fights with another inmate or violates the jail or POD rules, he or she might be placed on lock down. This typically means confinement to the cell for a day or two as punishment. If the inmate is physically moved to a separate area of the jail, this is called being put in the hole. Lock down is less serious than being placed in the hole and is usually handled by guards without any further action.
Most jails will allow inmates who are on lock down to still receive visits, but it would be prudent to call the jail to be sure you can visit your inmate while they are on lock down.
There are times when an entire POD will be locked down. Reasons include:
- The POD population as a group has gotten too rowdy.
- Too many fights have occurred in a given time period
- Weapons have been found
- Drugs were smuggled in
- Cell phones or other contraband have been discovered.
When the entire POD is locked down, visits are usually canceled and must be rescheduled, but not always.
County jails have inmates who have been sentenced to prison and are waiting to be transported there. In many cases, jails choose not to alert inmates when a prison transport is about to happen. Instead, the inmates on the transport list are awakened in the middle of the night or very early in the morning, told to grab their gear and be ready to leave. For security reasons, many jails choose to lock all PODS down during a prison run to prevent inmates from getting word to the outside that a particular inmate is on the move. These lock downs only last a few hours, but if a lock down is during your scheduled visiting time, the visit will be canceled.
The best way to prevent coming to the jail for a visit only to be turned away is to call the jail just before you head out. Ask them to look up your inmate and tell you if the visit is still scheduled. Be sure to ask about the status of visiting your individual inmate as well as the status of visits for the entire POD.