Georgia Criminal Appellate Law Blog Offering Insight and Commentary on Appellate Law and Criminal Trial Practice

The Hardest Part About Being in Jail

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship

Yesterday was Friday afternoon, but I needed to see an inmate to let him know when he would go before a judge on bond. Some work around the office pushed that visit into the afternoon. And when I finally arrived at the jail, the entire facility was on lockdown. Lockdowns are not unusual. And when they happen, visitation suspends. I made a joke about the receptionist “going back there and taking care of business” so I could get my visit done and I left to work on some other things. For an hour or so I worked on some paperwork and set some things in place for next week.

I returned to the jail at around 4:00 p.m. Visitation was re-opened. However, the facility only has one attorney booth. And detectives were using it to interview somebody. And quite a few new inmates were being booked in. So, my client and I had to meet on the benches in the visitation area. About 8 feet away were two inmates sleeping on pallets underneath gray jail-issued blankets. There is a good bit of sleeping in the jail.

When they finally brought my client out, he looked a bit dazed. I told him the good news: we have a hearing set. And I told him the bad news: we will not have it for a couple of weeks, and he will remain where he is at least until then. I reiterated my standard advice to incarcerated clients. (1) Don’t discuss your case with anybody; (2) Don’t learn the details of anybody else’s case; (3) Don’t talk about your case, your lawyer, the State’s lawyer, the detective, the jail staff, or anything criminal justice related on the telephone; and (3) Don’t discuss your case with anybody.

I expected more disappointment at the timeline. But he took it in stride. As I was leaving, he thanked me. “The hardest part of jail is not knowing what is about to happen,” he said. Even bad news is news. And bad news is better than not knowing anything at all.