This document is a guide to help families cope with the criminal justice system in Solano County when a family member who suffers from a mental illness is arrested. It is intended to help families navigate the forensic system. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Please assist your family member in obtaining proper legal representation.
My Mentally Ill Loved One Has Been Arrested in Solano County. What Do I Do?
SUPPORT YOUR LOVED ONE
If your loved one is in custody and being interrogated by investigators, remind him/her of the right to have an attorney. Remind him/her that do not have to talk to investigators. Ask for an attorney immediately.
If he/she is already at the Fairfield Jail, he/she will be screened for mental illness and other health concerns upon arrival. The staff needs to know immediately if your loved one is taking medications.
Contact the Jail Medical Department at (707) 784-7150 and ask to speak to a Medical Nurse or a Mental Health Nurse regarding medications.
Your loved one’s belongings are held at the jail until his/her release. However, they can be released to a family member. Obtain a form from the Visiting Officer in the lobby of the jail. It must be signed by the inmate as well as the person who will receive the inmate’s belongings
When communicating with your loved one or anyone else in the jail, including medical personnel, do not discuss the facts of your loved one’s legal case.
INFORMATION FOR SOLANO COUNTY JAIL – FAIRFIELD
500 Union Avenue
Fairfield, CA 94533
For information about an inmate, go to:
If you are unable to locate your relative, try any other names he/she may have used at some time (aliases, maiden name, etc.).
In case of a serious family emergency, call the jail and ask to speak with the Shift Sergeant or the Chaplain.
The Chaplain’s number is 707-421-7185.
Two 30-minute visits are allowed per week. Jail can be a very scary experience for someone with a mental disorder, and it helps to have someone familiar and empathetic to talk with. Again, do NOT discuss the facts of your loved one’s legal case during these discussions.
Call the jail before each visit to confirm that visiting is allowed and that your loved one is available (not at a court appearance).
The phone number is 707-421-7102.
Note: there are strict rules for visiting. They are detailed online at:
(1) You must be able to clear a metal detector.
(2) There is a specific dress code for visitors.
(3) Photo ID is required.
(4) No cell phones are allowed.
Use the link to the jail’s web page to access mailing instructions:
You can set up an inmate trust account to allow your loved one to purchase items from the commissary. Funds can be added at any time: online at http://www.touchpaydirect.com, by phone (866-232-1899), or at the kiosk located in the jail lobby.
Care packages are also available. Use this link to order treats to be delivered to your loved one in the jail:
WELLPATH IN-CUSTODY PSYCHIATRIC SERVICES
Wellpath (formerly CFMG) runs the mental health section of the jail’s medical facility. The staff appreciates receiving information from family members about their loved one’s diagnosis, medications, treatment histories, etc., and attempt to verify and re-start any psychiatric medications as soon as possible.
Note: medication may not be administered until your relative is screened/processed, and the psychiatric staff can verify the medication order.
The best way to ensure that current medications are started as soon as possible is to visit the jail with your relative’s bottles of current medications in hand so they can be verified immediately. Ask to see a member of the Wellpath staff. The medications must be in their original bottles.
You can provide information by phone or in writing. Written information can be dropped off at the jail or mailed to:
Solano County Jail
503 Union Avenue
Fairfield, CA 94533
To provide information by phone: 707-421-7150 To provide information by fax: 707-421-6674
Contact the Jail Medical Department at (707) 784-7150 and ask to speak to a Medical Nurse (for medical questions) and a Mental Health Nurse (for mental health questions.)
Organize medical and psychiatric information. Include:
Your loved one’s full legal name and date of birth
Is he/she under a conservatorship? If so, the county where the conservatorship was obtained.
Mental illness diagnosis
Psychiatrist’s name, phone number, and address
Current medications – name, dosage, and time of day to be administered
Name and location of the pharmacy that dispensed these medications
History of negative experiences with medications
History of alcohol or other substance abuse
History of suicide attempts/threats or other violent intentions in the recent past, briefly describing the events and when they occurred
History of involuntary holds (5150s) – include dates and locations
History of hospitalizations
History with law enforcement, including court proceedings
History of (or potential for) victimization by other inmates
Other medical conditions that might require immediate attention, (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, seizures, etc.) and medications currently prescribed for those conditions
Medical doctor’s name, address, and phone
Do NOT address any impending charges against your family member in this communication.
Medical information only! Keep a copy of this information for future use.
The medical information you provide is tremendously valuable in making an assessment and will help the mental health staff select the best treatment for your loved one. There is a clear preference for maintaining effective current treatment. However, the Wellpath psychiatric services staff will assess your loved one’s condition and may not necessarily prescribe the same medications.
RELEASE OF INFORMATION
By law, Wellpath cannot release any medical or mental health information about your loved one to you. As noted previously, however, you can provide information about your loved one to Wellpath and the jail.
Your loved one may have signed a “Release of Information” form, which will allow you to receive information about his/her medical and mental health treatment in jail. If so, also fax this document to Wellpath, along with the medical information you send.
OTHER USEFUL NUMBERS
24-Hour Booking Information (707) 784-7112
Claybank Detention Facility (707) 784-7190
Stanton Detention Facility (707) 784-4830
Sheriff’s Administration (707) 784-4830
Probation – Fairfield (707) 784-7600
Probation – Vallejo (707) 553-5531
Parole Unit – Vallejo (707) 648-5372J
Juvenile Institutions (707) 784-6570
Juvenile Medical Fax (707)784-2428
Fairfield Police Department Homeless Intervention Team Officer Joe Uchishiba (707) 249- 2930
Vacaville Police Department Community Resource Team Sergeant Aaron Dahl (707) 469-4023
DECIDING ON LEGAL REPRESENTATION
Your loved one has the right to retain a private attorney or use the Public Defender’s Office. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, a Public Defender will be assigned to you. Public Defenders are more familiar with the court processes, the judges and District Attorneys. They often have more frequent firsthand experience with defendants who have a mental illness than others and with options are available to them. Often PDs will not know that they have been assigned to an individual’s case until very shortly before a first court appearance.
There are 2 offices for the Public Defender in Solano County:
Fairfield Phone: (707) 784-6700
Vallejo Phone: (707) 553-5241
If your family member decides to retain a private attorney, be sure to select one that is well versed in helping people with mental illness and understands how to access the treatment facilities and mental health services that are available. A private attorney will grant you more time, but remember you are paying for that access.
It is unlikely that the Court or the attorneys will have updated information regarding your loved one’s clinical history, need for medications, etc. so it is incredibly important that you organize that information and make it available to the jail, court and attorneys. See the “In Custody Psychiatric Services” section of this brochure for instructions.
It is important to understand that, once an attorney is hired or appointed for the client, the attorney will owe the client a duty of confidentiality; as such, the attorney may be unable to discuss with you certain aspects of the case. Also, the attorney’s responsibility will be to represent the client, who may have different goals
IMPORTANT LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS
BAIL: Think carefully about posting bail for your loved one. No one wants a loved one to remain incarcerated for any length of time. It is an unpleasant experience for him/her as well as the family. However, you must ask yourself the following question: will your loved one be able to comply with the terms of the bail and appear in court when required?
Arrested persons generally appear in front of a judge within 2 business days of arrest; at that time, the judge may consider reducing bail or releasing the defendant with conditions. You may want to wait until after that first appearance before you post bail; if you agree to pay a bail bondsman, you will be responsible for their 10% premium, even if the case is dismissed or the defendant is released soon after the bond is posted.
In order to maximize the possibility of a judge agreeing to release a defendant suffering from mental illness, the judge will probably want to see (1) proof of the existence of the mental illness; and (2) a detailed plan to ensure that the community will be safe and that there is a good plan in place to ensure that the defendant will be supervised, will take their medications and will participate in treatment.
When considering release, the judge may refer the matter for a screening by Pretrial Services (managed by our Probation Dept.); if this occurs, a probation officer will seek information regarding housing, treatment, support persons, etc.
ALTERNATIVE COURT PROGRAMS
There are alternative court programs for mentally ill persons in the criminal justice system for which your loved one may be eligible. Ask the attorney or the judge if your loved one meets the requirements for Assisted Outpatient Treatment, also known as “Laura’s Law,” or for drug court.
ADDITIONAL CONTACTS AND INFORMATION
FAMILY LIAISON/MENTAL HEALTH CLINICIAN
Wellness Recovery Unit
Solano County Behavioral Health
SOLANO COUNTY OFFICE OF FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION
Offers several services for victims of child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and sexual assault, including shelter, county services, restraining orders, victims’ assistance, and counseling.
Solano Family Justice Center
604 Empire Street
Fairfield, CA 94533
707-784-7635 to make an appointment
Drop-Ins welcome Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.