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KERN COUNTY JAIL GUIDE: Does It Get Easier? Probably Not.

Toughing out a Kern County jail sentence in normal lockup facilities anywhere is a sensory jolt for most people. If you’ve never been there, the first 3-12 hours of the arrest experience is usually the most demeaning in its stripping of all the things that modern life has bestowed. You have no personal phone, no open access to the Internet, no cable TV, no music, no remote with which to channel surf, no “friends,” no privacy, and no decisions (what to eat, when to sleep) because someone else has made all of them for you.  
To humor yourself - remember that some corporate executive is paying to have the same undistracted experience – the difference being he or she is doing it by choice, and the interactions are all friendly.
Yes, it’s during that initial arrest incarceration period that several people take the bail option, by cash or bail bond, and recruit their family members for temporary freedom or make arrangements for your case.  Well, what if you or your family are without the resources to do the same or, by some defiant twist, your people choose to let you ride it out in hope of an abrupt detox.  You’re IN until arraignment, perhaps getting a little scenery change for that event and a hearing, and perhaps trial, and then immediately forwarded to sentencing.
For all the people who choose to ride out the sentence and the process for lack of resources or previous experience, you’ll be assigned to any of three long term Kern County facilities, 30-60-90 days to a year or more.  You will get a new grasp of what “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means because even in the least threatening of jail environments you will have the minimum of each.  You are a number, a last name and a first initial.

Medical Conditions / Diet Requirements in Kern County Jails

Any prescription medication for existing medical conditions (insulin, allergies, etc.) must be identified at intake or booking. On-site clinics in the different level II Kern County jail facilities fulfill all the medication needs based on existing prescription information. They will honor any medical alert card or tag that you carry or make arrangements to contact your physician and order the required medication if it is not in stock. If you are entered into the system for serving sentence, you have the ability to update the existing records with your medical condition and notarized copies of appropriate medical records. All medications are received and administered through the facility’s dispensary and clinic. You may maintain prescription glasses or reading glasses as long as they do not have metal frames or any metal within the frames. Glasses that are approved can be dropped off at the bond window for the jails or mailed. Cases are not permitted.
Contact lenses must be shipped from the supplier to the jail (like mail shipments) with the inmate’s name and booking number. Cleaning solution is available through the commissary catalog.
Single-dose, over-the-counter medications are dispensed as needed after an infirmary visit (aspirin, cough drops).
Specify any diet requirements that you have upon booking or arrival at sentenced facility.  You may specify any religious-based diet (Kosher, Islamic, Hindu, or Buddhist), or medically prescribed diet (gluten-free, glycemic), but not a trend-based diet (paleo, all pizza, or lacto-oval vegetarian).

Phone Calls in Kern County Jails

You’ll be instructed on using the phones available in the intake-booking process area. That’s where you notify someone that you are in jail and ask for help. After that phone privileges are made from special phones inside the jail that can be accessed during free time between meals and visiting. The calls from those phones are placed “collect” to the person you are calling and you will be identified by entering your booking number. They’ll ask you to enter the number you are trying to reach, your inmate/booking number, and optionally personalize the message with your name.
The person you are calling receives an electronic call transfer message that somewhat says:
“You are being contacted by an inmate in the Person in the Jail Facility, to accept the call press N. To deny the call hang up. Press N to hear this message in Spanish or another Language, press N. If this call has reached you in error, press N.”
That will be left when the receiving phone forwards to voicemail. And without any input, the call will terminate.
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Kern County Jail Facilities

Your sentence can be served in a pay-to-stay facility for first offense or non-violent crime and in some cases you can qualify for non-contiguous days (example, a thirty-day sentence over 15 weekends). If you are not in the budget range to afford Pay-to-Stay jail options (about $100 per day), and you’ve been sentenced to jail time, prepare to endure an assignment in one of the Kern County Level II Jail facilities.
Each facility has fixed times for privileges like visitors, fee-free deposits to inmate commissary accounts, and/or cashier deposits to inmate commissary accounts.  All of the particulars are described here:
The dress code rules are outlined below:
  • No provocative clothing, nothing that is see-through or made of netting material.
  • Nothing shortened to a level that exposes more than the knees and lower portion of the legs.
  • Nothing so baggy that it exposes undergarments or bare skin, no necklines that permit exposure of the bare torso or breasts.
  • No platform shoes or spike heels.
  • No hair styles with embedded jewelry or metal combs.
Lockers are provided for storing personal belongings prior to entering the inmate visiting area.  You are not permitted to enter the inmate visiting area with any devices, just your identification and keys.
Special visits for the signing of legal documents (child custody, divorce, financial management) can be arranged with the Watch Commander, but those visits must be made with a legal representative or process-server.

Day-to-Day Privileges – Kern County

You will receive three meals a day at scheduled dining times based on your cell location. The meals are compliant with what you initially requested for your diet preference.
You will be permitted recreation time on a daily basis. There are televisions for viewing, but shows and movies are limited by channel blocking for content. Don’t expect to watch anything that isn’t rated MPAA-G… not even PG-13 or PG. You may make phone calls, visit on-site clergy or participate in study or group programs. You may also participate in inmate work programs within the jail and can accumulate commissary money.

Rules on Mail for Kern County Inmates

The “snail mail” process of the US Postal Service is the easiest and most cost effective way to communicate with persons inside or outside the Kern County correctional system over long term stays. Every piece of mail is limited to a legal size manila envelope (9” x 12”) or a standard plain envelope legal or stationary envelope.  Items that don’t comply with these standards are rejected.
All mail is subject to search. The following items are not acceptable incoming mail items (even when properly packaged within a larger envelope):
  • Blank money orders. All money orders must be to “Kern County Sheriff’s Department” with the inmate’s name and booking number on the reference line.
  • Envelopes with external decoration or art, nothing written in crayon or felt-pen.
  • Pictures or photos containing provocative material of sexual nature, gang-related sign, hate or prejudicial messages or symbols, illegal activities.
  • Envelopes that emit a scent or odor.
  • Tobacco products or banned substances (drugs, incense, powders, food residue).
  • Mail materials like stationary or stamps (these are only acceptable if received directly from the US post office).
  • Jewelry or personal items like credit cards, ID, birth certificates or checks.
  • Mail or notes intended for a different inmate.
  • Any item that can compromise the security of the facility or safety of any inmate.
  • No more than 10 separate correspondence pieces can be included in one large envelope.
Your outgoing mail is subject to search for information that compromises the security of the facility or evidence of ongoing criminal conspiracy or activity.

Books & Magazines

Only new books and magazines may be ordered and shipped directly from an acceptable distributor with a clear invoice listing the purchase, recipient, and contents. The shipping package may not be repackaged or forwarded to an inmate.  An inmate can only have 5 books or magazines at a time in their possession and none of the pages or articles may be torn out.  Walmart, Costco, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon ship in this manner, do not order through independent vendor sites (Amazon Marketplace).
Any materials containing photos of male or female nudity, semi-nudity, genitalia, sexual activity, bondage-degradation, or illegal activity are prohibited.
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