Ask for Help

Even though it is difficult for most people to admit that they need help, it is good to think about where you can go for support and resources once you’re out. Identify what help you need and what resources are available to help you. Think about all areas of your life—your physical well-being, need for fellowship, employment and spiritual needs, and where you can find resources to fill those needs. And, ask for help when you get out.

I’ve done hard time. One of the things I tell prisoners is that change begins where you are now. I ask them “What are you going to do differently now to begin the process of change?” My favorite quote is “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different.Sam Huddleston, Match-2

Avoid the Wrong “Friends”

“The most common mistake I made was goin’ home and checkin’ on old friends. In jail, I told myself I would never associate with those people again… but I did. These were the first people who reached out and offered me a lot of money the day I got home. I immediately forgot all the time I had done and all the promises I made to myself while I was in jail. What was really amazing was that I turned over my life to people who had nothing to do with me while I was in jail. They never wrote to me, visited me or had anything to do with me until I got home and they had a use for me.”

It would be great if everybody who gets out of jail or prison could start their lives over in a different place but this seldom happens. But there are positive and negative people in all neighborhoods. Create a list of the positive people you know and contact them. Avoid the people who could get you into trouble, such as people who use drugs and alcohol because that can lead to crime. Many parolees end up back in prison not because they broke the law but because they were with someone who did.

Prepare Yourself for Reality

“You don’t have to work for five bucks an hour, you can go back to jail and work for free.”

Many prisoners have unrealistic expectations of what life will be like when they’re released. Keep in mind that low-paying jobs are opportunities to build relationships with employers. Good job performance can lead to advancement, better pay and a documented work history.

Be Patient, Think Positive, and Don’t Give Up

Things may not fall into place as quickly as you would like but there are good services and good people who want to help people like you. You have to do your part. Have patience, focus on the positive, give yourself lots of positive self-talk, and, most importantly, don’t give up.

Keep Busy

Find something positive to do. Volunteer for a local service organization or offer to help a family member with a project. It’s a great way to take your mind off your own problems and to keep you away from negative influences.

This information is based the video series,”Success Stories,” and on interviews with parolees who have made successful transitions back to the community. It is provided by Friends Outside in Los Angeles County, a nonprofit organization that provides services to families affected by incarceration.


What is the Public Defender?

The Public Defender is a person who defends those charged with crimes but who do not have funds to hire private attorneys. The Alternate Public Defender handles cases when two defendants are involved in a case. There is no such thing as a “state-appointed attorney.” Although they are very busy, Public Defenders are generally much more experienced handling criminal cases than are many private attorneys and inmates.

Tips for Communicating with Your Public Defender:

Ask the Public Defender for a business card when you meet him/her. If (s)he does not provide one, ask your Public Defender to write his/her name and telephone number on a piece of paper for you. If the Public Defender does not provide this information, let the judge know when you are in court.

If you need time to talk to the Public Defender before your case is heard, respectfully request to so do while in court.

You can call your Public Defender collect at one of the following numbers:



If you do not know your Public Defender’s name or telephone number, call the number above and give the operator your name, booking number and birth date. The operator can connect you to your Public Defender or provide you with the person’s direct number.

In the event you do not hear back from your Public Defender, take the following steps:
  • Try calling 6 times or so. If possible, maintain a log of the times and dates that you called.
  • If you do not hear from your Public Defender, call back and ask to speak with the Head Deputy.
  • Explain the situation and mention the dates and times of your calls.
  • Again, maintain a log of the time and date you called.

If you still do not hear from your Public Defender, call back and ask to speak with a Supervisor. Explain the situation and mention the dates and times of your previous calls.

  • Always be respectful. We understand you are feeling stressed and frustrated. But you will usually get further with people if you treat them with respect.
  • Whenever possible, maintain a log of the times and dates that you called.
  • Speak clearly when leaving voice mail messages. People can’t respond to a request if they can’t understand your message.


What is Compassionate Release?

What is the purpose of a Compassionate Release? An inmate who has a terminal illness and fewer than six months to live might qualify to be released from prison before the end of his/her sentence.

How do you begin the process? The physician in the prison must make the determination that the inmate has a terminal illness and has fewer than six months to live. Persons sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and condemned inmates do not qualify.

When should you begin the process? A family member or loved one of an inmate can make a request to the physician in the prison. The process should not be initiated until it is believed that the inmate has six months or less to live.

What steps are involved?
  1. The prison physician makes a determination that the inmate has fewer than six months to live;
  2. The Classification and Parole Representative in the prison makes a recommendation to the Warden regarding whether the inmate should be released;
  3. The Warden reviews the recommendation and writes his/her own recommendation to the Director of the California Department of Corrections;
  4. If the Department approves the recommendation, the recommendation goes to the sentencing judge.

If the Department does not approve, a letter goes to the warden. (The Board of Prison Terms reviews recommendations from the Classification and Parole Representative for inmates with life-terms and parole revocations).

The entire process takes approximately 30 days.

What factors are considered when deciding whether to approve a release?

A number of factors are taken into consideration:

  1. Commitment offense;
  2. Criminal history;
  3. Whether the inmate is considered to be a threat to society;
  4. The plan for post-release care; and,
  5. Infractions while in prison.
What can you do to increase the chances that a release will be granted?
  • Call the prison physician and request a physical for the inmate.
  • Contact the Classification and Parole Representative who works in the prison where the inmate is incarcerated and explain why you believe the release should be granted.
  • Contact the warden and explain why you believe the release should be granted.

If the inmate is terminally ill while going through the court, let the judge know because the judge might take the illness into account when deciding on the sentence.

For more information, call the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, (916) 322-2544.

 [§11010. -]
 This information is provided by Friends Outside in Los Angeles County.


What is a Hardship Transfer?

(*For Inmates in California State Prisons Only. Not for “Super Max” security inmates.)

A “Hardship Transfer” is a request to have an inmate moved to a facility that is closer to a family member’s place of residence because the family member is ill or has a disability that prevents that him/her from traveling long distances.

Who can make the request? Family member and friends can make the request.

What steps are involved?


The family member/friend obtains a letter from his/her medical doctor certifying that a medical problem prevents him/her from traveling long distances. This letter should be written on the doctor’s letterhead. A notarized letter is highly recommended.

The family mails the original letter to the inmate’s counselor, and maintains copies in the event the original is lost. Copies of the letter may be sent to the Community Resource Manager and to the warden. The family member/friend may also present in written form any information that demonstrates the relationship to the inmate and supporting evidence of the nature of the hardship.

The inmate who wishes a transfer should make his/her request known to reception center staff, and submit the request to his/her counselor. In addition, inmates are evaluated one time each year by the Classification Services Unit.( §11010. )

This process offers an additional opportunity for inmates to present their requests. The doctor’s letter should accompany the inmate’s request. If the inmate has a special job skill or assignment that supports the need for a transfer, (s)he should mention this information as well.

The counselor notifies the inmate that the transfer has been approved approximately two weeks in advance of the transfer. (This is called a “transpact”).

Number to contact for an interstate transfer: (916) 255-2781


Why are some transfers approved and some aren’t?

The decision to grant a transfer is primarily based on two criteria:

  1. Availability of bed space in the prison that has been requested; and
  2. The security level of the prisoner.

Note: Friends Outside in Los Angeles Country cannot guarantee positive outcomes but we will gladly discuss your individual situation to help you present your case as effectively as possible.

Reference: (§53130.11, §11010.


What is an Interstate Transfer?

What is the purpose of an Interstate Parole Transfer? An inmate will request an Interstate Parole Transfer because his/her family, job, or other support system is in a different state than the one to which they are going to be paroled.

How does one begin the process? The process begins with the inmate’s counselor or caseworker, who submits a packet to the Interstate Parole Unit in their home state. After review, the packet is forwarded to the California Interstate Unit in Sacramento.

When should one begin the process? The review process takes up to 90 days once the paperwork arrives in Sacramento. However, the process should begin 120 days prior to the inmate’s expected date of release to allow time for the counselor/caseworker to complete the paperwork.

What factors are considered when deciding whether to approve a transfer? 

There are three major criteria:

  1. Whether the inmate was a resident of California for a minimum of six months prior to arrest. (Although residency is not mandatory, it improves the applicant’s chances of getting transferred);
  2. Whether the applicant has a visible means of support in California. This means of support cannot be a person who receives public fund such as General Relief (Social Security is acceptable). The means of support also cannot be a person who resides in public housing; and
  3. The commitment offense.

What can a family member do to increase the chances that a transfer will be granted? Family members and loved ones may submit to the inmate’s counselor/caseworker all information they believe will help the inmate (for example, letters of support, offers of employment). All information must be submitted by the counselor/caseworker in the original packet. No other information is accepted.

A parole agent in the community where the parolee wishes to reside conducts an investigation of the application. Family members are advised against contact with the Interstate Parole Unit during the review process due to the large volume of cases being processed.

Steps to take:
  • Suggest that the inmate talk to his/her counselor/caseworker about getting a parole transfer. This should be done four months before the date of release.
  • Submit to the inmate’s counselor/caseworker any information you believe will help your loved one get transferred to California.

This information is provided by Friends Outside as a community service.

We cannot guarantee a positive outcome for any person seeking an Interstate Parole Transfer.
 §74060.1 et seq


Four things you can do to reduce the risk of getting HIV/AIDS: 
  • Get tested for HIV/AIDS two times over a six-month period.

If you do test positive, treatment is usually more effective if you start it as soon as possible. Free, anonymous testing is available. Talk to your Friends Outside Case Manager for a referral.

  • Use a condom with “non-oxydol 9”

Free supplies are available from your Friends Outside Case Manager.

  • Do not share needles if you use intravenous drugs.
  • Women: You are entitled to have control over your body.

“No” means “no” when you do not want to have sex. You have the right to ask your partner to use a condom.

Talk to your Friends Outside Case Manager about getting condoms or for a referral to a public health agency (like the Los Angeles Public Health Department) for free birth control services.