My Family Member Has Been Arrested.
What Do I Do?
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This document is a
step-by-step guide to help families cope with the criminal justice system
in Yolo County when a family member who suffers from a mental illness is
arrested. This informational guide was written by NAMI volunteers based on
their own personal experience in consultation with Yolo County Alcohol,
Drug, and Mental Health Department staff and staff from California
Forensic Medical Group (CFMG) and the Sheriff’s Department to help
families navigate the forensic system. We are not attorneys, and this is not
intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Please assist
your family member in obtaining proper legal representation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
B. IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
1: Support your Relative
2: Contact the Monroe Detention
Center (Yolo County Jail)
3: Communicate with California Forensics Medical Group
4: Deciding on Legal Representation
Working with an Attorney
ADDITIONAL CONTACTS AND INFORMATION
D. MEDICAL / PSYCHIATRIC
SUPPORT YOUR RELATIVE
Jail can be a very scary experience for
someone with a mental disorder and it helps to have someone familiar and
empathetic to talk with.
- 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 being held by the authorities in custody and being
interrogated by investigators, remind him/her of the right to have an
attorney. When being questioned by intake officers at the jail, it
is not necessary to have an attorney present as the questions
being asked will pertain solely to the arrestee's current and past
medical condition and to determine proper housing classification.
- If he/she is already
at the Monroe Detention Center, he/she will be screened for mental
illness, as well as other health concerns, upon arrival. It is very
important that they be direct and honest to benefit as much as possible
from this screening process. The process includes a survey with
questions regarding whether he/she has a mental illness and is taking
- Assure your family
member that it is OK to discuss his/her physical and mental condition,
diagnosis, medications, etc., with the staff conducting the screening,
which includes California Forensics Medical Group
(CFMG) health services staff and/or psychiatric
- It is important your
family member feels safe to speak openly with the health/mental health
- All belongings a
person comes in with are held at the jail and cannot be made available
to your family member.
- Try to visit your
loved one at least once a week. Note,
- You must be able to
clear a metal detector.
- There is a specific
dress code for visitors.
- Photo ID is
2: CONTACT THE
(Yolo County Jail)
The Monroe Detention
Center is located at
2420 Gibson Road in Woodland.
Phone: (530) 668-JAIL(5245)
Call 530-668-5245 to
- your relative’s status.
date and time.
- court arraignment
date, address and court department number.
- where your
family member is housed.
are often moved around,
so check before each visit)
- his/her booking number.
Use the links to access
some of the following:
If you are unable to
locate your relative, try any names he/she has used.
In case of a serious
family emergency call and ask to speak with the shift Sergeant.
3: COMMUNICATE WITH CALIFORNIA FORENSICS
MEDICAL GROUP (CFMG) PSYCHIATRIC SERVICES
receiving information from family members about individuals’ medications,
treatment histories, etc. and attempts to verify and re-start any
psychiatric medications as soon as possible.
medication may not be administered until your relative is
screened/processed, and the psychiatric staff can verify the medication
You can provide
information by phone or in writing. Written information can be mailed to:
Monroe Detention Center
2420 Gibson Road
Woodland, CA 95776
or drop it off at the jail in a sealed
By phone, call
530-668-5245 - you will get a phone tree.
- press 1 or 2 for
- press 1 for list of
- press 7 for medical
On Monday thru Friday,
8:00 - 4:00, a clerk is available to answer the phone in the medical unit.
At other times there may not be a staff person in the office as they are
out with patients. Request to speak with a member of the CFMG psychiatric
services staff or leave a detailed voice message if staff are not
Information sheet to
help organize medical and psychiatric information. Include:
- your relative’s full
legal name and date of birth
- mental illness
- psychiatrist’s name,
phone number, and address
- current medications
- name, dosage, and time of day to be administered
- name and location of
the pharmacy that dispensed these medications
- history of negative
experiences with medications
- history of alcohol
or other substance abuse
- history of suicide
attempts/threats or other violent intentions in the recent past,
briefly describing the events and when they occurred
- history of (or
potential for) victimization by other inmates.
- other medical
conditions that might require immediate attention, (e.g. diabetes, high
blood pressure, seizures. . . . ) and medications currently prescribed
for those conditions.
- medical doctor’s name,
address, and phone
Do NOT address
any impending charges against your family member in this communication.
Medical information only! Keep a copy of this information for future use.
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 CFMG psychiatric services staff will conduct an assessment of
your relative’s current condition and may not necessarily prescribe
exactly the same medications.
4: DECIDING ON LEGAL REPRESENTATION
Your family member may
want to retain a private attorney or use the Public Defender's Office. A
public defender will be assigned at arraignment if your relative does not
have or cannot afford a private attorney. Do not hesitate to use a public
defender. Public defenders are more familiar with the court processes, the
judges and district attorneys often have frequent first hand experience
with defendants who have a mental illness than most private attorneys,
and will therefore be very likely to know what legal and treatment
options are available to them. If your family member decides to retain a
private attorney, be sure to select one that is well versed in helping
people with mental illness and understands how to access the treatment
facilities and mental health services that are available.
Think carefully about posting bail for your family member. No one wants a
loved one to remain incarcerated for any length of time. It is an
unpleasant experience for them as well as the family. However, you must
ask yourself the following question. Will your family member be able to
comply with the terms of the bail and appear in court when required?
WORKING WITH AN ATTORNEY:
Public Defenders (PDs) are extremely busy and do not have
much time to take or return phone calls. Often PDs will not know that they
have been assigned to a particular individual’s case until very shortly
before a first court appearance. Do not assume that the initial court file
has any reference to your family member’s mental illness in it.
If a public defender (PD)has
not been assigned or you can’t obtain that information, it is still
important to share the written medical history information that you also
have provided to CFMG. The only reliable way to do this is to plan to
attend the first court hearing if you are able and to deliver your written
document to the PD. Arrive early. Bailiffs (Sheriff’s Deputies assigned to
a particular court room) can assist you in passing along written
information to PDs, and even having a brief word immediately before
PDs 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 in
writing. is information will be very useful in pursuing the best outcome
for your loved one.
Phone: (530) 666-8165
FAX: (530) 666-8405
SPECIAL NOTE: After
business hours and on weekends, the Public Defender's Office regular
telephone number (530-666-8165) switches to an automated system that
offers an additional menu option to reach an attorney on urgent matters
(e.g. people subject to being interrogated or asked to participate in
a lineup). Please do not use this after-hours option for routine questions
that should be asked on the next business day. It is important to limit
use of this option to very urgent purposes, such as interrogations or
lineups. In other words, before connecting to an attorney in the
middle of the night -- or on the weekend -- folks should carefully
consider whether or not an attorney would be able to help the situation
when the courts are closed.
ADDITIONAL CONTACTS AND INFORMATION
Supporting and coping with a loved one
who suffers from a mental illness can be extremely challenging and
stressful. Knowledge, as well as your love and fortitude, 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 in your area, contact
This document was last updated
November 30, 2007. If any of this information is inaccurate or in need of
updates, please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org