Are you planning on visiting inmates in prison, but you’re not sure how to prepare for your trip? Visiting prison can be intimidating as you want to ensure that your visit goes well.
Guards are strict on visitors who exhibit aggressive behavior or don’t follow prison rules exactly. If you and your inmate are separated by a glass screen, you’ll likely still be able to feel the tension.
Luckily, it’s simple to avoid this situation simply by preparing ahead of time. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips to make your visit safe and worthwhile.
Do An Inmate Search
One of the most important steps is to do an inmate search to ensure the inmate is still located and eligible for visitation. This can be done online with their name or Department of Corrections ID. Doing an inmate search can also provide information on the visitation rules of the prison and the inmate’s jail visiting hours.
Contact the Prison
Every correctional facility has set up guidelines and regulations that must be followed for visitation. It’s important to look up the facility location, find the mailing address and phone number, or email to contact an official in the facility. The location website will most likely have a tab allowing visitors to fill out a form to schedule a visit.
Find out information about facility dress code and specific instructions for the upcoming visit. If needed, the visitor may contact a staff member to ask questions and to get additional information. Knowing the jail visiting rules and regulations is key and critical for having a successful and safer visitation.
Many correctional facilities require visitors to fill out an application with an identification number to obtain approval. In addition to the application, a visitor may also have to submit a few additional documents to be approved. This includes photo identification and proof of legal relationship to the person they will be visiting.
The correctional facility will then review the information and notify the visitor of the decision. Depending on the correctional facility, the visitors may have to wait up to several weeks to hear back about the approval status. The preparation process will be well worth it once the visitor has the approval to visit their friend or family member.
Know the Visitation Schedule
The visitation schedule is typically available online or from the front office of the correctional facility. Knowing the visitation schedule ahead of time allows for adequate planning and preparation for your visit. Ensure that you have brought all necessary identification, such as a driver’s license or government-issued ID.
In addition, confirm what language is allowed during visitation and what items, if any, are allowed to be brought in. All of these things are important to know to have a successful and meaningful visit with the inmate. Making sure that all of this information is known upfront will help avoid any frustrations or problems during the actual visit.
It is important to dress appropriately and refrain from wearing revealing clothing, revealing tops, baggy or sagging pants, or clothing with offensive slogans/graphics. Additionally, avoid wearing bright-colored clothing, accessories, and jewelry. It is better to stick with muted colors such as navy, black, and white for a professional look.
In some facilities, shirts with buttons are preferred over shirts with drawstrings. Be sure to also remove any headgear such as hats, headbands, and scarves when entering the facility. Avoid wearing clothing with metals and buckles, such as belts or wallet chains, as these can pose potential safety issues. Additionally, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes for disruption prevention.
Gather Required Documentation
The required documentation can include a valid photo ID for each person and proof of parental relation if you are a parent or guardian. You may also need to have proof of relationship if you are the spouse or a family member. Make sure to bring a copy of your birth certificate.
In some prisons, a pre-approved visitor list may also be required. Be sure to check with the facility in advance to determine what documents are needed and if there are any additional restrictions. Additionally, make sure all documents are up to date and properly signed.
Leave Prohibited Items Behind
Prohibited items will not be allowed past security, so it is important to take a moment to read up on the facility’s visitor policies in advance. Prohibited items generally include:
- prescription meds
- cell phones
- portable music players
- tobacco or lighters
- any contraband items
Make sure to pack lightly and never bring in anything that is not approved. Leaving prohibited items at home will help ensure an enjoyable and stress-free visit.
Plan for Security Checks
Ensuring personal safety and the security of the people in and around the visiting area requires several steps. Consult prison guidelines for the types of materials allowed into the prison area.
Allow plenty of extra time to pass through the prison’s security checks. Ensuring that these steps are followed will help with a smoother entry and provide an increased level of security for all involved.
Being informed about the prison and the inmate can be key to being emotionally prepared. Gaining knowledge on how prison visits work can help alleviate emotional stress. Reaching out to individuals who have visited incarcerated individuals in the past can also be beneficial.
Connecting with these individuals and having conversations about their experiences can help provide insight. Preparing oneself mentally to take on the emotional difficulties associated with having a loved one in prison may be necessary. Practicing self-care, such as meditation, finding outlets to release emotions, and talking to someone about feelings, can be key steps in preparing emotionally to visit an inmate in prison.
Prepare When Visiting Inmates in Prison
After considering all these steps, be prepared when visiting inmates in prison. From scheduling an appointment in advance to arriving at the prison on time, these tips can make your visit more successful and comfortable.
Don’t forget to bring your ID and keep a positive attitude. Make the most of your visit and show your support. Reach out today to start planning your visit.
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