How To Be Jail Support (US Edition)
A guide on how to support arrestees
ABOUT THIS TRAINING
Note: this training includes a general guide to your rights. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Laws and procedures vary by city, state and country. Consult local activists and attorneys for more precise information relevant to your area.
This training was originally posted by Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles and modified for NooWorld.
This training is a 7 Minute read.
- Jail support is ideally a team of at least two people who provide justice system support to others engaging in civil disobedience.
- Prior to an action, Jail Support will gather information on those willing to risk arrest. During an action, they work with the Police Liaison to find out where protesters are being taken. After an action, they track arrestees through the justice system and pick them up when they are released.
- After an action, jail support often works in conjunction with a lawyer to help arrestees fill out the pertinent legal paperwork.
- People doing jail support need to be detail-oriented, reliable, and organized.
- Jail support is a critical part of any action with arrests.
Before the action
Decide who will stay home near a laptop and phone, and who will be at the action.
For every person who is willing to risk arrest:
- Gather full legal name and birthday. Preferably have them fill out the entire National Lawyers Guild form.
- Ask for their emergency contact and under what circumstances they should be contacted
- Ask about any special needs such as medical issues, legal status, juveniles, out-of-state ID, ID in a different gender, warrants, etc.
- Ask if they want to be bailed out and if so, ask them for the name of their bail bondsman.
- Find additional support people if needed who are planning to avoid arrest, who are prepared to deal with the arrestees' prescription medication, children, pets, jobs, transportation from jail, and other logistical needs.
During the action
For the jail support person at the event:
- Have people willing to risk arrest sharpie the phone number of a jail support team member on their body somewhere discreet but accessible (preferably, use the number of the jail support team member not at the action).
- Gather any personal items people willing to risk arrest do not want to get lost after being arrested. They should take only the bare minimum with them (ID, labeled meds in original bottles if necessary, money to get home), as sometimes personal belongings get lost during processing, especially in mass arrests.
- Work with police liaison/National Lawyers Guild legal observers to know exactly who has been arrested, and where they are being taken.
- Update team member who is at home by their laptop with names and probable locations of arrestees.
For the jail support person at home:
- Monitor social media, news feeds, police scanners for police movements, and updates from other protestors in real-time. Relay to jail support on the ground. Signal is a secure messaging app, consider downloading.
After the arrests
- Track arrestees' progress through the system using the online jail monitoring site for Los Angeles. The site is not updated until at least 2 hours after the person has been arrested. You can also call directly at (213)-473-6100.
- To find someone arrested by the Sheriff’s Department, visit https://app5.lasd.org/iic/
- Once you know where the arrestees are, go to the jail or processing facility and wait outside. Usually, people will be processed and released within 3-4 hours.
- Be aware that sometimes protestors from the same action will be taken to different jails, sometimes split up by gender. Trans folks are often taken to the wrong place and will be booked under their current government name.
- The police are required to process and charge people within 48 hours. The jails operate 24/hrs, and they can be released at any time.
When arrestees are released
- Have snacks and water ready for them, a spare mask, and hand sanitizer. Give them back whatever belongings you were holding onto for them.
- They might be shaken, so be sensitive to whatever they may be going through. Listen and hold space.
- Ask for the paperwork they were given. Take a picture of their prisoner’s receipt and send it to the lawyer representing them. Let them know they need to hold onto this paper - it states their charges and when they need to appear in court.
- Take them to get a hot meal, or wherever they need to go.
Note: If arrestees are not being released due to complications, the attorney can make calls to the jail, but the attorney will need to know the exact details of anyone not released in a timely manner.
The most basic basics of Jail Support
Here’s the bottom line of what you need to be Jail Support on the fly.
Jail support should:
- Not be at the protest, and have reliable phone/internet/communication methods.
- Obtain birthdays/full legal names from those willing to risk arrest.
- Have the protesters write your number in sharpie on their body somewhere accessible but discreet.
- Have protesters text you when they think they’re going to be arrested, or when they see others starting to be arrested.
- Call jails and/or check the website to find arrestees.
- Go wait outside the jail for them with water/snacks, and then take them where they need to go.
Safety tips for your protestors
If you are going out to protest where you might be arrested:
- Bring only what you need, or don’t care about losing.
- Tell someone where you are going, and always go with a buddy.
- If you have to drive, park somewhere you won’t run into issues with parking limits and being towed if you’re arrested.
- Keep your jail support person updated on location changes, if you see arrests begin - and when you are safely headed home!
- DON’T talk to the police! Remember - police will lie to you (even about your rights). They will try to manipulate you. If you lie to a cop, you are committing a crime. Politely say you are going to remain silent.
- If arrested, it’s okay to give your basic identifying information when you are booked.
- Wear layers and bring a jacket. The jail is cold.
- Bring sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water. Wear comfortable clothes, and shoes you can run in.
- Have your phone CHARGED and with enough storage space that you will be able to record video of what’s happening if needed.
Know your rights - interacting with police
This is general legal information, not advice. Consult a lawyer regarding your specific circumstances.
- Keep your hands visible
- Avoid touching police in any way
- Can result in higher charges, like battery on a peace officer
- Avoid answering questions or giving away information
- If detained, recommended to give your name & ID, but do NOT answer any questions
- “Am I free to leave?”
- If yes, walk away. If no:
- “Why am I being detained?”
- “I do not consent to be searched.”
- Officers can pat you down if you are being detained if they believe you are armed or dangerous.
- But you do NOT have to open bags or closed containers for them.
- “I am going to remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer.”
Know Your Rights
- If you are given a citation (a ticket with a promise to appear), signing this is NOT an admission of guilt
- Failure to sign can result in you being taken into custody or more serious penalties
- Many people believe that if they are arrested and not "read their rights," they can escape punishment - this is not true.
- Police only read your Miranda rights before interrogation
- You are not required to talk to government officers about your immigration history
- You do not have to input your phone’s code or password
- Police can use your biometric data, so turn Facial ID and fingerprint unlock off!
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