Visiting an inmate for the first time is one that is filled with mixed feelings of what to wear, what form of identification to present to the guards, what to bring along as a gift, if kids are allowed in, and other random thoughts like that.
With all these thoughts popping up in your head at the same time, you may end up more confused and frustrated. Not to worry!
This guide contains what you need to know when visiting an inmate for the first time, and perhaps will provide answers to all your confusions.
Types Of Prison Visitations
There are several types of visitation for inmates. Visitation ranges from video visitation, non-contact/telephone visitation, and contact visitation.
Prison Video Visitation
Video visitation is the one that’s mostly being used today. Just like the way you’d use Skye, video visitation can be done even from the comfort of your home.
No Contact Jail Visitation
Non-contact/ telephone visitation is one that involves sitting behind a glass barricade while talking with your inmate on the telephone.
Full Contact Prison Inmate Visitation
Contact visitation is the most common and often preferred by visitors. Here, you are able to sit with the inmate and talk for a short period of time. It even gives you the opportunity to even make contact with your ok inmate, however there’s a limitation to that.
Forms of contact usually allowed include a brief hug, hello, and goodbye. Holding of hands is often frowned at by prison officials.
What To Do Before You Visit A Prison
It is important that before you are granted access to visit your inmate, you must have previously been in contact with him/her. The prison has a visitors list that contains the friends and family members that are allowed to visit.
Some facilities provide inmates a list containing slots for 10 visitors that they wish to include. As such, the inmates must have all the details of the visitors he intends to include In the list, which include: the visitor’s full name, the visitor’s address, the phone number, and at times more other information about the visitor.
So if your inmate does not know all this information, you can send him a mail containing a letter that stipulates your information.
Other facilities may request all prospective visitors of the inmate to fill out a visiting application (some only give out this form based on the wish of the inmate).
How To Apply For A Visitation At The Prison
The visiting application is given to visitors who intend to pay a visit to inmates, however not all facilities will request that you fill a visitors application (most facilities do anyway).
The visiting application is more like a questionnaire that contains a portion in which you are required to fill out your name, address, and questions that seeks to find out if you are a convicted felon, or if you’ve been incarcerated or worked in the department of corrections.
Proceed to answer, fill in your names and answer the questions as truthful as you can because the information provided will be used to perform a background check up on you.
The findings will determine if your visit will be approved or denied.
What Can Make You Denied From Visiting A Friend In Jail?
- If the information provided in the visiting application is false.
- If you’re a convicted felon.
- If you’ve previously served time in a correctional facility, or have worked in the department of corrections.
- If you have outstanding warrants.
- If there’s a protective order against you or the inmate.
- If you are seen as a threat to security at the facility.
- If you are on PTI, probation, or parole (although some exceptions can be made to this).
- If you’ve already filled a visiting application to another inmate at the facility.
You will only know if your visiting application is approved or denied when your inmate tells you, most institutions will not inform you. Therefore, you must ensure a constant communication with your inmate to ascertain the status of your application.
However, if you’re denied visiting privileges, you have a choice to appeal the decision. Only make sure you file for appeal within the stated time frame.
How To Prepare For A Prison Visitation
If your visiting application is approved by the facility, check the schedule of the visitation hours specified by the institution.
You check visiting hours for some facilities on their website, and be sure to double check if possible, as visiting hours may be changed at any time or even cancelled without notifying you.
A correctional facility may cancel visiting if the facility goes on a lockdown, if an inmate has escaped, or due to reasons known to the facility. An inmate may also be denied visiting privileges if they’re confined in solitary.
Once you are sure of the visiting hours, ensure to take along every needed form of identification on the day you intend visiting your inmate.
Although in most cases you only need your valid state issued identification card or drivers license, some facilities however vary in the type of identification they accept.
Visiting A Jail As A Minor Or With A Minor
If you’re visiting with a child or minor, the facility will require you to first fill out a special visiting with minors authorization form.
When such a minor is above 14, he/she would have to come along with a school issued photo ID or birth certificate before they’re allowed to visit.
Also, minors are not allowed to visit inmates alone, as it is required that they must be always accompanied by a parent or guardian. Inmates who were incarcerated for crimes against a child cannot have access to visits by minors.
Small children or babies may also need to come along with their birth certificate to be allowed to visit, but it is not a must in all cases. When visiting with children, try as much to control them because they’re found causing a nuisance, you can get kicked out from the visiting area.
How To Dress For A Prison Visitation
Every correctional facility has a dress code for visitors thus, if you’re visiting any, ensure to put on the specified dress code else you’ll be refused from visiting.
Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a dress for visiting inmates:
- Do not put on a dress that resembles the inmate’s clothes in design or color, and that of the staff.
- Do not visit in medical scrubs or any sort of uniform, as this may pose a threat to the facility’s security.
- You must dress in shirts and put on shoes.
- Clothes that expose sensitive parts of the body are prohibited.
- See through fabrics are not allowed.
- Sleeveless shirts are prohibited.
- Shorts and skirts that are above the knee or those with slits are prohibited.
- Offensive imprints or languages on clothing is prohibited.
- Tight clothing which include spandex, leggings, tights are prohibited.
- Jewelries are also prohibited, so keep that in mind when dressing.
Sometimes, it is up to the prison guard to scrutinize which kind of dressing is allowed into the prison. To avoid being sent back because of a violation in dress code, you can come with a change of clothing just in case.
Getting Searched At A Prison During Visitation
It is advisable to arrive a few minutes early to the facility when visiting, as you may be required to fill out more paperwork (you may get into trouble if you arrive too early though).
Keep in mind that you’ll be searched from your arrival at the parking lot, your car will also be searched by the prison guards or even security dogs for any incriminating item or one that violates the rules of the facility.
Even when you enter the facility, expect to be searched again usually by pat down or with a metal detector. And If you refuse to be searched, you’ll be banned from visiting.
There are even cases where visitors must consent to strip search before they’re allowed in, but if you’re not comfortable with this, it doesn’t mean you’ll be refused visitation.
Strip searching was mainly done to detect drugs hidden in the body that scanners couldn’t pick. However, it is now a thing of the past as security dogs are used by facilities instead.
What To Take With You On A Prison Visitation
This varies from one facility to another. Some facilities may provide lockers that can be rented for about a quarter to store your belongings in, others do not.
You’re only allowed to bring in your ID, single car key, eyeglasses (if any), some change for use at the vending machine, as you may need it to buy snacks for your inmate while you talk.
If you’re visiting with a baby, you may be allowed to come with a feeding bottle and a change of diaper. Items such as medications, cigarettes are considered illegal, as you can be banned if found in possession of any of these, and possibly charged.
Questions About Visiting A Friend In Jail
If you have about visiting an inmate that was not answered in this article, you can post in the comment section below and we’ll do our best to provide answers to such questions.
Can you kiss on prison visits?
You can kiss during prison visitation at a low risk community prison, however, in many other centres, the case is different. Kissing on a prison visit depends on the type of prison facility where your loved one is incarcerated.
These days, most facilities do their best to prevent direct contact in order to avoid smuggling of drugs and other prohibited substances. If you intend to kiss your loved one, then make sure the rules in the facility permit you to do so.
How long does it take to get approved for prison visitation?
Most prison visitations are approved on a first-come first-served basis. Your request for a prison visit can be approved in less than a week, however the visitation date may vary.
You need to put in every prison visitation request on time so as to factor in the time it may take to process other requests submitted before you, and to give the prison operations director enough time to make adequate preparations for the security and safety of you and other visitors.
What is the process of visiting someone in prison?
For most prisons, you will need to fill out a visitation request online, and submit it for them to get started on processing your visitation request. FOr many others, you will need to schedule a visit through the visitation centre.
How do I visit someone in jail in Canada?
Most prisons in Canada accommodate visits through a visitation centre. You will need to schedule an appointment through the visitation centre for your request to be processed.
Can you wear jeans to visit an inmate?
Members of the public are allowed to wear jeans or any form of clothing to a prison visitation. Notwithstanding the type of clothe you put on, highly sophisticated infra-red sensors will always be at major entry points to scan you for prohibited items.
How many visits do prisoners get a week?
Prisoners are allowed to get as much visits as the prison can accommodate. Most prisons tailor their activities to only accept a number of visitors per day and once this number is reached, other visitation requests are pushed on to the next available day.
Are conjugal visits monitored?
Conjugal visits are usually monitored for the safety of both the inmate and the visitor. A highly trained staff will monitor the activities that happen during the visit to make sure that the visitation conforms with acceptable practices.
Conjugal visits were designed as a means to preserve families and give incarcerated people the opportunity to procreate even while in prison. These days, there are not many prison facilities around the world that still allow conjugal visits from an inmate’s registered spouse.
Can you swear in a letter to an inmate?
If a letter to an inmate contains a swear word, it will be given a second review to determine what to do with it. The level and context of the swearing in a letter will determine if it will be handed over to the inmate, or confiscated for vulgarity.
What happens to your clothes when you go to jail?
When you go to jail, your clothes are locked up in your property. This is a little lock box assigned to all inmates where clothes, keys, wallets, shoes and received books/letters are kept.
How should I dress for a prison visit?
While preparing for a prison visitation, wear something that you feel very comfortable in. Do not put on very oversized clothes that may put you on the spotlight and have the guards second-guessing if you;re hiding something underneath.
Do Death row inmates get visitors?
Yes. Death row inmates are allowed to receive visitors just like any other inmate. Friends and family, loved ones, lawyers, human rights organisations and other religious societies are allowed to visit inmates on death row.
Can you wear a bra in jail?
Inmates are given adequately sized bras in jail to put on. While these bras are issued, it is however the responsibility of the inmate to put them on.
Can you hug an inmate during visitation?
Hugging an inmate can be allowed in certain incarceration facilities, but in some others, a no contact law is usually enforced and must be adhered to.
Your ability to hug a loved one during a prison visitation will depend on the laws guiding that particular institution. Make sure you check in with the regulations before you attempt to hug an inmate.
Can you wear your wedding ring in jail?
A wedding ring is usually considered a sentimental item and thus, inmates are allowed to wear their wedding rings after they are vetted by the security department.
If an inmate poses some degree of threat, or is seen capable of inflicting bodily harm or injury through a ring, then they are denied the ability to wear their wedding ring while in prison.
Can you FaceTime inmates?
It is not possible to facetime with inmates. Electronic gadgets are prohibited in prisons and any inmate found with a mobile phone will face very serious charges which could increase their sentence.
What can you bring to a conjugal visit?
If you’re approved for a conjugal visit, you will be given a list of items that are permitted, and a list of items that are prohibited.
Breaking the law during a conjugal visit may lead to very serious consequences for both the visitor and the inmate.
What is a conjugal visit in jail?
A conjugal visit is a visitation that allows an inmate have some private time for intercourse with a listed spouse. This type of visitation is allowed to help families cope with their intimate desires.
Why are conjugal visits not allowed?
For most facilities, conjugal visits are denied because they pose a great risk to the operations of the prison facility. Most times, prisoners use conjugal visits as an opportunity to smuggle prohibited items like drugs and weapons into the prison facility.
Can you get sperm from an inmate for artificial insemination?
It is impossible to get a sperm from an inmate for artificial insemination. This is a practice that has not been approved in any prison facility. If you intend to conceive, you can request for a conjugal visit if it is allowed, or have intercourse with your partner if they are ever released to attend a funeral or family event.