Guide for families of inmates
When someone is sent to jail, it can be a very difficult for friends or family members. They may feel angry or upset and they may not know how best to help the person who has been sent to jail. Here are some helpful things you can do:
How to find out which prison are they in.
It is very frustrating when you travel all the way to visit someone, only to find they have been transferred (moved) to another jail. It is also difficult when you know someone has been sentenced, but are not sure where they are.
You need to know the MIN and/or date of birth of the person you are trying to locate. If you don’t know their MIN you need their full name. It also helps if you are a member of their immediate family
If you have any questions about a transfer, ring the Inmate Placement Office:
PH (02) 8346 1000 – After hours (7 days to 10pm) PH (02) 9289 5258
If you need help with these phone calls, ring CRC: (02) 9288 8700 .
We can help you get in contact with the right office.
Arrange to visit them
When you’re visiting someone in jail, it is a good idea to check that they are still in the jail before you visit. To check, ring the jail directly.
By phoning first, you can also check what things you can take with you, or if you need to book the visit.
Application for Travel and Accommodation Assistance
- Do you have a close family member or close kinship relative in custody in a NSW Correctional Centre?
- Do you have to travel at least 100 kms to visit them?
- Do you experience financial hardship which may restrict you from visiting your loved one?
- Perhaps your partner or child is in custody, or you have children or grandchildren who need to visit their parent?
The Community Restorative Centre (CRC) may be able to provide some assistance to you. You may be eligible for reimbursement of some of the travel and accommodation costs related to the visit.
Please download the PDF Application below to assess whether you are eligible for travel and accomodation assistance: Travel and Accomodation Assistance Information and Form PDF
Helping with mental health emergencies
It can be very distressing if you think someone in jail is going to harm themselves or think they might try to commit suicide.
If you are concerned, phone the jail immediately. If you have trouble getting through, phone CRC on (02) 9288 8700.
When you phone the jail, ask to speak to one of the following:
- A nurse
- A psychologist
- A welfare officer or services and programs officer
- The manager of security
- The general manager
- A chaplain
If you can’t get through to any of these people, ask the reception desk at the jail to put you through to the most appropriate and senior person.
When you get in touch with a staff member at the jail, give them the prisoner’s full name and MIN or date of birth and explain your concerns to them.
The staff member should act immediately and arrange for someone to see the prisoner.
If you have concerns about the treatment they are getting, ring CRC on (02) 9988 8700.
Prisoners need money to pay for phone calls or order items (‘buy up’) such as toiletries, additional food, clothing, tobacco, papers and personal items.
Prisoners are not allowed to have money or other items, such as stamps, on them. All purchases are deducted directly from their prison account.
When you visit a prisoner, you can deposit money in person at the jail or at the Prisoner’s Account Department. Ask at the visitor’s area about the right place to do this.
You can deposit cash or a money order.
It is a good idea to ring and check that you can deposit money on the day you visit, as this department is not open every day.
To deposit money, you need to know the prisoner’s full name, their MIN or date of birth. You will also need your own ID with your address on it and your visitor information number. Don’t forget to ask for a receipt.
You can also send a money order through the mail to the jail the prisoner is in. Do not send cash or cheques.
You need to enclose a letter stating the prisoner’s full name and MIN or date of birth.
Remember to write your name and address and ask for a receipt – they will send one out to you. If you don’t give the jail enough details, they can withhold the money until the prisoner is discharged.
Prisoners can only receive up to $100 a week in total for their personal use and only have a maximum of $100 in their account. If you send any more, it will be put into another account and they won’t be able to use it until they are released from prison.
When a prisoner is transferred
Finding out that your friend or family member is being transferred to another jail can be distressing, especially if that makes it harder to visit, or makes them feel unsafe. Trying to get a prisoner transferred to be nearer family and friends can also be stressful.
To request or object to a transfer, a prisoner needs to go to a wing officer, welfare or services and programs officer and get an application form (bluey). They need to write why they do or don’t want to be transferred. This form is then given to the classifications officer for consideration.
Reasons for requesting or opposing a transfer might be:
- The prison is too far for family and friends to visit, or there is no public transport
- Family or friends can’t get to the prison because of disability]
- The prisoner is afraid for their safety because of other prisoners.
Bear in mind that most prisons are in rural and regional areas. Transfers can be hard to get and the process can take several months. Corrective Services also has a duty to keep prisoners safe and this can take several months.
There is a process for transferring from one state to another but it is long and complicated.
How the Community Restorative Centre can help
The Community Restorative Centre (CRC) is a NSW community organisation dedicated to supporting people affected by the criminal justice system, particularly prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families and friends. Their staff offer personal and practical assistance such as counselling, accommodation, a subsidised transport service, a court support service, outreach to prisons, and information, advice and referrals.
CRC phone number: (02) 9288 8700.
Armstrong Legal gratefully acknowledges the excellent work performed by the CRC and for their permission to disseminate the information on this page.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.