Visiting an inmate, Everything you need to know - Faqs, application , dress code , prison conduct

First-time experience of a visit to prison can be nail-biting, frustrating and confusing. There are many questions regarding the process and conduct of the prison. To avoid rejection of current and future visitation you need to follow certain rules and regulations. Many questions would surround you like:

  • What should I wear?
  • What identification documents to bring?
  • What can I bring to prison?
  • Can I bring something for an inmate?
  • How to apply for a visit?
  • What are the timings?
In this guide, we want to help you have a smooth visitation experience. This is an ultimate guide of things know before you visit a prison.

Possible Modes Of Communication With An Inmate

Due to advancement in technology people are not far from you anymore, why should inmate visitation be any different. Various modes of communication are now introduced by prison tech companies like: Securus Tech, Global Tel Link (GTL), Federal BOPs, etc. Some modes of communications that are possible with inmates are as follows:

  • Link Calls / Telephone calls: Most preferred way of communication till date, but they are highly costly.
  • Prison Fax system: Sending a fax has been in trend from 1970s, still a preferred way of communication to send documents and letters.
  • Letters and Postcards: Sending postcards or handwritten letters can never get out of fashion, It's shows how much you can for someone.
  • Direct Or Indirect Visitation
  • Chats with tablets provided to inmates.

Types of visitation

  • Inperson Contact Visitation: This is the most satisfactory way of visitation where you are allowed to sit face to face with the inmate, You can have a hug or touch them, hold their hands. Don't cross the line or else you might be banned from future visitation.
  • Non-Contact Visitation: Due to security reasons sometimes inmates are restricted to visitation where you can see them through a glass partition, And have a chat through phone sitting opposite to each other. Though this might not be a satisfactory experience, seeing your loved ones can still be very heartwarming.
  • Video Visitation: Due to the advancement of technology some prison facilities are now supporting video visitation. It's Still not widely accepted across prisons. If your inmate's facility supports video visitation it can be very convenient. Technologies used are generally VOIP calls like skype or IMO. Securus Tech has been the pioneer of video visitation, Head over to their site to know more.

Explanation video of visitation process


How To Prepare For A Prison Visit

Inmate's Visitor List

First question that comes to mind before planning a visit is where to start! So start by calling your inmates prison facility, Get in a call with them to know if they have something called: Inmate Visitor List. If yes: then ask your inmate to get you in their list. Search for prison phone number here.

Visiting Application

This is the most common step to get you started with the visitation process. Not all facilities require you to fillout an application but 90% of them do. This is a set of common quoestionare like Name, Relationship with the inmate, Identifaction, Background of conviction. This is the most important part of the visiting process. Falsification on the declaration of the application will get you rejected and banned from future visits.

We have compiled a complete list of visiting application forms and online forms for you, View All Application Forms.

Helpful links
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Why My Visiting Application Got Rejected?

The prison in-charge / warden has the authority to reject your application any time or ban you from further visits. Following are some of the common reasons why your application got rejected:

  • Filling out false informations about yourself, don't even think about it prisons do run a background check.
  • If you are a convict yourself, Or have outstanding warrants.
  • If you are related to the crimes committed by the inmate Or If you have been a victim of the inmate
  • If you have been violent in your previous visits, Or get too touchy with your inmate your application may be rejected.
  • If you are in probation, parole or PTI
  • If inmate or you are in Protected custody.
  • If you work in a correction facility or related to someone from corrections department.
  • In case of a lockdown of the facility.

Checklist for the day of prison visit

Dress Code for visitation

Wearing imporoper dress for public appearance can you definitely get your visitation rejected. So what's an appropriate dress code? If you go through our List of prisons you will get dress allowed for each prison. Here are some general dress code you can follow:

  • Wear shirts or dresses suitable for public places.
  • Tank Tops,bare midriffs,cut-off shorts,jogging shorts,biking dress are not allowed.
  • Shoes Or Sports shoes must be worn.
  • Female skirts and dresses below knee length only.
  • No head covers should be worn.
  • Underwears are must.
  • Don't wear clothes which might be similar to staffs or inmates. Or wearing uniform of any sort might cancel your visitation.
  • Shorts / Skirts above knee length, Sleeveless tops are not allowed.
  • Tight clothings should be avoided.
  • Mens should wear Full / Half shirts, Full pants / jeans with belt and proper shoes on.
  • Women can wear a full length dress / skirt / jeans with proper top or any non-revealing dress which will be appropriate for large gathering of men.

Items you can bring to a prison

Items to bring for yourself
Money: You might bring small amount of cash (50 - 100 USD) to buy snacks or a meal within the prison.
Cellphones: Most of the prisons donot allow cellphones within the visiting area, you might need to keep in the lockers provided.
Personal Belongings: extra clothing , water , snacks, medicines etc can brought to a prison

Items you can bring for an inmate
  • Money: You cannot directly handover the money to an inmate, you will need to deposit it to their account in prison (500$ Maximum)
  • Clothes: You can bring some clothes for them to wear, most of the facilities allow inmates to wear their own clothes.
  • Magazines, Postcards, Letters, Newspapers, Photos can be brought along.

Identification to bring

ID for Adults
All visitors above age of 18 must bring a valid photographic ID, below are few IDs that are valid:
  • driving licence
  • passport
  • electoral identity card
  • senior citizen's smart pass
  • citizen's card
ID for Minors
For miniors any photographic Id of school / college also works or government issued ID cards. All minors must be followed by an adult.

Travel to a prison

Traveling to prison can be a costly and time-consuming affair. But in the US you cannot redeem the expenses occurred in visiting a prison. Many prison facilities to provide you with snacks and water for free. You might get a free ride from the facility Entrance to the visiting area. For guidelines on how to visit a prison, And view maps search for prisons.

Arrival at facility

For various reasons, you should always try to reach early, at least 20-30 minutes early from your visit time. Late entry is not allowed. Generally before visit procedures takes a lot of time. If you are entering a high-security prison than you would like to enter 1 hour before visiting hours.

Visitation timing
Visitation timing is different for different prisons, Also it can vary considering several other factors like:
  • Prison Type: Police Station, City Jail, County Jail, State Jail, BOPs all may have different visiting hours.
  • Security Type of the facility can also be a reason to have different visiting hours and frequency
  • Inmates Criminal Records: This might also influence the visiting frequency in some prisons.
  • Different blocks of a facility can have different timings.

Search and Formalities

Once you enter the prison you will be searched thoroughly for possesions of things and arms. Keep your not-allowed items in the locker provided. After you come out of the locker room you will again be searched before entering the visiting area. A brief about things allowed beyond your locker room will be given by the guards. If found guilty of passing something illegal to the prisoner you will be prosecuted.

Lockers in prison

Your cellphones or valuables like jewellery might not be allowed to the visiting area. Keep them in your locker safely and collect after visitation.

Do's and Don't during a visit - Visitation Rules

  • Follow proper dress code.
  • Bring items which are allowed in prison.
  • Behave properly with the guards.
  • Follow code of conduct as described by guards.
  • Travel to the facility 1 hour earlier from the visit time.
  • Listen to the instructions given by the guards, and follow them by all means.
  • In case of contact visitation don't get too touchy with the inmate.
  • Donot consume alcohol or drugs before visitation, This will not only get you banned, this might also get you arrested.
  • Don't be violent or loud it might get your visitation cancelled.
  • Co-operate with the guards at all time.
  • Leave all un-allowed items in the locker.
  • Bring your medicines and water.
  • Don't click photos / selfies without permission, Few photographs are allowed to be clicked when instructed by guards.

What to know about prison guards and prison workers

Prison workers are trying their best to provide security to you and your inmate. Respect them in all situations. Follow the prison rules that makes guards jobs easier. They have the right to take necessary action if you act violent or not according to the rules. During a visit, if there is a lockdown follow the guards to get to a safe location. Can a guard shoot a visitor? They don't have rights to hurt civilians but remember once you cross the line you become a criminal. They have the right to eliminate anyone to maintain the integrity of the prison security.

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