When identifying a document signer or credible witness, you may now use any form of inmate identification that is current or has been issued within five years that is issued by a sheriff’s department, if the inmate is in custody at a local detention facility. The new 2016 law in the California Civil Code section 1185 is different from the law already on the books regarding IDs used in prison which states that you can use an inmate identification card issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation if the inmate is in custody or in prison.

Notarizing for an inmate has its challenges beyond ID. It can be a very emotional time for friends and family of the inmate. A notary is usually accompanied by a family member or attorney to the facility. However, sometimes a notary is constantly present at the prison performing Notary work because they have built up a successful practice through the years. Common documents notarized are: Temporary Custody of Minors, Power of Attorney or loan documents. We found from our students that the biggest concern is getting the signature of an inmate in the journal without completely giving up control of it. Some prisons do have a slot big enough to pass the journal through to the inmate in their visiting rooms. Some do not and must be handed to one of the guards to bring to the prisoner on the other side of the glass.

It’s necessary and timely that lawmakers have responded to the needs of the prison population and their families as there has been a long standing problem notarizing for inmates. This is usually because their ID is not readily available and could take as long as two days to obtain from prison personnel. In the past, prison employees have asked notaries to use an inmate’s wrist band which is not acceptable.  The new law makes the process of notarizing for an inmate a little easier by extending an additional method of identification and adding “local detention facility” thus broadening the scope of locations where the incarcerated can have documents notarized.