At any given time, America may hold about two million people behind bars. While the system deems them, criminals, to you, it could be a loved one who you want to spend time with.
Visiting an inmate can boost their morale, help keep your connection strong, and prevent you from losing out on an important relationship. But, prison visitations greatly differ from normal hang-out sessions.
Prepare yourself with what you need to know about inmate visits.
You Must Register for Inmate Visitations
Do not just show up for a visit. You will waste your time and leave disappointed.
Ask the inmate you wish to visit to complete a visitor information form and then mail it to you. You must fill out the remaining fields and send the form back to their inmate address.
Once received and approved, they will put you on the visitation list for your scheduled visit. Not everybody can visit. Felons are not allowed to come in contact with an inmate, and depending on the crime, they may have specific restrictions to who can come to see them.
If you show up dressed inappropriately for the visit, they will turn you away. You may not wear revealing clothing that exposes the chest, back, midriff, or legs, as this can potentially put you at risk considering the population.
Do not wear any type of uniform or an outfit that could resemble the guards’ or prisoners’. This raises a security risk.
Offensive graphics will not be allowed, and skip the jewelry, as they will make you remove it. Check the info for friends and family to find more specifics on how to dress.
Don’t Bring Them Anything
Do not bring anything to give your loved one at your inmate visiting appointments. The guards will not let you in with it and if it slips by them, it could cause a lot of trouble if they see you hand them anything.
Obviously, drugs or weapons will not pass, but you cannot even give them something simple, like a photo or keepsake. You can mail it, however, and the guards will check through the package prior to giving it to them.
Avoid Sensitive Topics
Visits never seem long enough. Use this time to enjoy the company of your loved one.
Avoid bringing up sensitive topics during an already highly emotional time. Save big conversations for letters or phone calls.
Kids need time with their parents, especially during long sentences. But, stay aware that this can feel very traumatic for them.
Talk children through the process of going through security and getting patted down. Explain the rules and prepare them for not being allowed to snuggle mommy or daddy, even though their parent truly would love to.
Allow them time to sit quietly or talk up a storm. Either or both may happen. Set up a time for them to sit with a counselor afterward, because this can bring up a lot of confusing feelings.
Make the Most of Inmate Visits
Time with your loved one will not come often when they face a prison sentence. Make the most of your inmate visits by following all of the rules and procedures and focusing on your moments together.
Does your visit require travel? Find helpful tips on our website!
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