Behind Bars

Behind Bars


I’m sure we’ve all witnessed the process getting booked into jail from either reality TV shows or fictional dramas like Law & Order. But watching it happen to someone else is an entirely different thing than experiencing it first-hand. I’ve had clients describe to me in great detail the feeling of the handcuffs on their wrists, of feeling totally and completely helpless and powerless, of being terrified of both the inmates and the guards, and, of course, the abject humiliation of being strip-searched.


So, what does the book-in process consist of? Well, each jail varies in small details as to how the process is handled, but generally most aspects of it are the same everywhere you go. It usually starts with the initial process wherein you provide the jail staff with all of your vital information, such as full name, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, etc. After that you are fingerprinted to confirm your identity.


Fingerprinting technology has changed dramatically over the last several years and most detention facilities use a computer-based electronic program that typically provides the detention center with an immediate confirmation of the inmate’s identity. In fact, some police now have the ability to confirm a person’s identity using a hand-held device in their police cruisers. It’s getting harder and harder to pull a fast one on the police by trying to use someone else’s identity.


After information gathering and fingerprinting, the inmate is taken to an area for photographing. We’ve all shared a laugh over some celebrity mug-shots floating around on the web these days, but the scary thing is that if you get arrested, there is a strong likelihood that your mug-shot (also called a book-in photo) will make its way onto one of several mug-shot websites. As if getting arrested wasn’t humiliating enough, today’s technology lets all your friends and family share in your humiliation by viewing your publicly-displayed mug-shot (and trust me, those photos are rarely complimentary).


Probably the most controversial aspect of the book-in procedure is strip-searching. There, inmates are required to remove most if not all of their clothing in the presence of a guard of the same gender and are carefully examined for the presence of contraband. Many lawsuits have resulted from the use and abuse of strip-searches  often attacking how they are performed (using guards of the opposite sex to conduct them, etc) including cases asserting that strip searches should be used only on inmates deemed dangerous or for which there is reason to believe they possessed contraband. But, in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, held that detention facilities can conduct strip searches on any inmate brought to the facility, even if they are being held on minor, non-violent charges. So, it appears that strip searches are here to stay.

I hope this overview of the book-in process is helpful to you. If you or a loved one have been arrested on any criminal charge in or around the Atlanta area, please contact me immediately for a free and confidential consultation.  404-474-2531

Leave a reply