The booking procedure for county jail is actually fairly simple. There are several myths, most spurred on by Hollywood about the actual procedures and rights the subject is afforded. The procedures at most facilities are essentially the same, with some minor differences. Each state has their own Department of Corrections, or something similar, which mandates the gathering of certain data. In addition, the FBI has some input, and they receive much of the information collected when the inmate is booked into the facility. Here are the basic booking procedures for county jail.


The first contact will typically involve the staff conducting a pat down type search. There are very few situations where a strip search is allowable, but there are some times they are needed. For this article, the focus will be on the basic booking procedure for county jail.

During the search, the guard essentially feels for any type of weapons or contraband on the inmate. It is typically not required to use same sex pat down searches, but it is wise. This is just the first step of the booking procedure for county jail inmates.

Removal of jewelry:

Typically, all rings, piercing, and other jewelry items are removed at this time. In some facilities, this may not be required if the inmate will be released immediately. Some counties also require "layers" of clothing to be removed. If the inmate is wearing two or three shirts, they are required to wear only one during booking. This essentially reduced the likelihood of the inmate concealing a weapon. It is one of the more safety oriented booking procedures for county jail.

Receipt of property:

The Guard must make an accurate account of all inmate property. It's one of the early booking procedures for county jail. Typically, all property, including the clothing on the inmate's back, must be accounted. The more detailed you are, the better. Brand names, and other detailed descriptions are always a good idea.

The computer stuff:

There is plenty of information that gets logged. The booking procedure for county jail requires a lot of computer work, but it's not that terribly hard or time consuming, once you've done twenty or so, to get the feel of what's going on. The booking procedure for county jail inmates will include gathering data. The computer parts will help you locate an inmate at county jail, when the booking process is complete. This includes:

1. Personal information: This includes full name, date of birth, address and phone number. The booking procedures for county jail also require you to collect employment information and physical descriptors. In addition, the guard must collect driver license numbers, social security numbers, DOC and FBI number, and some other basic personal identification numbers. These are all used for identification, and are not random. Each is mandated by either the Department of Corrections, the specific facility, or the FBI.

2. Charges: The booking procedure for county jail includes entering charges for each inmate. The arresting officer will let the guard, or the dispatch center know exactly what the charges are for the inmate. This will typically dictate if the inmate will spend the night in jail, and then see the judge, or if they will be released immediate after being booked in. You will typically enter the location of the arrest, felony and misdemeanor charges, any bond that is required, along with the name of the arresting officer. In addition, there are certain codes that must be entered for each offense. These are typically done for classification, since there are greater felony consequences.

3. Property: The booking procedure for county jail will typically mandate entering all property receipted above to be entered into the computer system.

4. Miscellaneous: The booking procedures for county jail inmates are not complete just yet. You will need to enter odds and ends like emergency contact information, doctor and attorney name, and some other tidbits.

5. Take the mug shot: The booking procedure for county jail requires taking mug shots of each inmate. The actual method for taking the mug shot will vary greatly by department.3

6. Fingerprints: For most agencies, the booking procedures for county jail will not only require the guard to take prints, but also enter much of the same information listed above into a separate program. It typically takes about as long to take prints and enter the information as it does to take and enter all of the information listed above.

7. Medical information: This typically only needs to be done in detail when the inmate will be staying in the jail for an extended time. It doesn't usually need to be entered during a book and release.

8. Signatures: The inmate will have several things to sign. If they refuse, the guard only has to mark them as refused to continue. It's one of the last booking procedures for county jail.

9. Phone call: This is one of the many Hollywood myths. Contrary to the movies, and the barroom lawyers out there, there is really no such right. In most states, the Department of Corrections merely suggests allowing the inmate to use the phone. That said, in most facilities it is allowed each and every time.

10. Cell assignment: This only applies when the inmate is not being released immediately after being booked. Many agencies use a decision tree to assign the inmate to a cell. It basically assists the guard in placing the inmate in the right location.

11. Release: If the inmate is being released, the guard may do so immediately after being booked. This will vary a little by facility, but it's generally the same. It's just one of the many booking procedures at county jail.


While the booking procedures for county jail may sound lengthy, they are actually not nearly as time consuming as many would believe. In many cases, the inmate can be booked in, start to finish, in less than thirty minutes.

This is really nothing more than a basic overview. Each facility may have more, and sometimes less information that needs to be collected. While the booking procedures for county jail are fairly consistent, there is some room for variation. Hopefully, you never have to find out first hand.