You may have recently discovered that a loved one is in prison. Although you have a lot of emotions running through your head right now, you may want to set up visitations with that loved one. This guide is to help you know how to visit an inmate in prison.
Most prisons encourage visitation with inmates because it helps keep morale up. Prisoners that spend time with loved ones, during the incarceration, are more likely to not end up in prison down the road.
Here is your how to visit an inmate prison visitation guide.
First Stop: Locating an Inmate & How to Visit an Inmate
Before you can visit an inmate, you need to locate them in the prison. All state prisons have their own search tool that you can use.
Federal prisons have one large search tool that you can use to find an inmate in prison. You can search for the inmate by first name, last name, inmate number, sex, age, or race. Once you locate the inmate, you can begin the process of visiting with them!
Each facility has different rules for visiting with an inmate, but most follow the same guidelines. So, when you want to know how to visit with an inmate, your first step is to always locate them first.
Visiting an Inmate for the First Time – Prison Visitation Guide
Although you may be stressed about visiting an inmate for the first time, there are some things you can do to keep calm. Here are some instructions to help you stay calm, while visiting with an inmate for the first time.
- Read all the rules and regulations prior to visiting a jail for the first time.
- Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the visit.
- Get through the check-in line, take a deep breath, you will be fine.
- Enjoy the visit with your loved one!
Inmate Visiting Form
Inmate visiting forms can be two different things. The first inmate visiting form comes when you go to apply to visit with an inmate. The other inmate visiting form is what you will fill out when you come to visit.
Jails must keep strict records of who came to visit and when, so inmate visiting forms help the jail staff stay organized.
The forms are provided at the prison, so all you need to do is show up.
What to Know About Jail Visits
First of all, jail visits can oftentimes be tough on kids. They’re about to see a loved one in a strange environment.
There are a few things you should know about jail visits.
- They’re very strict. You will only be able to bring certain items into the jail with you.
- Bring an identification card with you!
- Dress appropriately for the visit
- Most prisons only allow for a quick hug when coming and going.
While jail visits can be nerve-wracking, it’s important to note that they aren’t going to be forever, unless the person has a long sentence. Try to look at it as a temporary thing if you can, this will help you get through any of the jail visits.
How to Fill out a Visitation Application
Before you can visit with an inmate in jail, you must fill out a visitation application. Anyone 18 and over will need to fill out a visitation application. This application helps make sure you’re eligible to visit with an inmate in prison.
Every prison has their own application. Most of the applications can be done in person or online. It just depends on that specific jail.
Also, note that a friend or family member must have that application approved prior to even visiting with an inmate. Once the application is approved, you can schedule a visitation with the inmate.
Each time someone applies to visit with an inmate, it’s a case-by-case thing. If you have a prior conviction, you may not be able to get in to visit with an inmate. You will be able to fill out a state prison visitation form and a federal prison visitation form.
What to Know About the Jail Visitation Schedule
Visiting an inmate isn’t something that can be done at any time in the prison. Instead, it’s something that must be planned for.
Most jails require you to apply for a specific visitation time. This helps keep order in the prison. If you’d like to visit an inmate, that’s in jail, just look up the visitation schedule on their website. Usually, it’s on the weekends and holidays.
No matter what the schedule, always call and make sure the visitation is still on, sometimes it can get canceled and they won’t have a way of notifying you. Just make it a part of your routine to call the jail and make sure the visitation is still happening.
How to Dress for an Inmate Visitation
During everyday life, you don’t really need to think much about what you will wear. However, when you’re going in for a visitation, you really do have to follow a certain dress code.
Each facility has a different dress code, but for the most part, they all have the same idea. Here are some of the general dress code rules when visiting an inmate at prison.
- No weapons of any kind
- No revealing clothings
- You must wear a bra and underwear
- No clothing that may look like the clothing of an inmate
Visiting an inmate usually is the perfect occasion to dress up in something nice. While you may not consider it as a special occasion, your outfit should reflect it.
Make sure your hair is put back nice, you don’t have anything forbidden on your person, and that you aren’t bringing in anything that can be considered contraband.
How to Behave During a Visitation
Although you may feel like you’re being incriminated, when you go in for a visit, try not to feel that way. There are certain ways you need to behave during a visit. While it may seem weird at first, it’ll get easier the more visits that you do.
- You should know where you are at and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Any odd behaviors or actions can cause the visitation to be closed down early.
- If you have kids with you on the visit, remind them to follow the rules too. Although, prison staff are human and know that kids will be kids.
- While at the visit, try to stay calm, talk in a low voice, and be respectful of prison staff and those around you.
Keep in mind that inmate visitation can be ended at any time without a lot of explanation. Remember that you’re at a prison and visitation isn’t a right, it’s a privilege.
As long as you know what you can expect, during a visitation in the prison, you’re going to be okay!
What to Eat Before a Prison Visitation
Just so you know, you won’t be able to bring in items from home for a prison visitation. As much as you want to and as much as the inmate might beg you, you will only be causing trouble for yourself.
The only items you will be allowed to bring in are your car keys and a photo identification card. Any food or other items can be considered contraband.
When you’re planning a visit with an inmate, you should plan to eat before you come. If you have little ones, make sure you feed them before you walk into the prison for a visitation. Since most visits are only 20 to 30 minutes, you will be able to grab a quick bite to eat after the visit.
Jails don’t usually have vending machine or a place where you can eat at the jail. Although this might seem like common knowledge, it’s important to keep this in mind before you head to the jail for a visitation.
Now that you know how to visit someone in jail, you can use these tips to make your visit even better. It can be scary when you visit an inmate for the first time, but once you get used to it, you will feel more confident each and every time.
Rules and Regulations of the Prison Facility
Visiting with an inmate is never something that should be taken lightly. Inmates are held at high standards, while they are in prison. They are expected to have good behavior and listen to the staff of the prison.
You should know, before heading to a prison visitation that the number one goal of the facility is to keep you safe. If they feel as though you’re not being safe, they will end the visitation right away.
The number one rule to enjoying a visitation is to always pay attention to the rules and regulations of the prison facility.
Sure, it may now always be fun to follow rules, but they are put in place for a reason.
What to Expect When Being Searched
Most people don’t realize that they will be searched, when they head into a prison for a visitation. The very first thing that a visitor does it freak out. But, don’t! Here is what to expect when you’re being searched.
Know they are looking for contraband
If you are visiting with the intention of bringing in contraband, then you might as well say goodbye to visitations with a loved one. The staff at any state or federal prison will find the contraband and you will face charges.
Prison staff searches everyone
When you’re visiting with an inmate for the first time or for the hundredth time, you should know that the prison staff searches everyone. They don’t show favorites and every baby get searched. In fact, there are adults out there who think that babies can get away with carrying in contraband for them. No, everyone gets searched in prison.
Items you can bring in are limited
There are rules and regulations listed on the website for a reason. In fact, the items you can bring into the prison are limited. Make sure you check the list of items that can be brought into the prison visitation before you even leave your car!
Being searched can be uncomfortable
Let’s face it, being searched isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, however, it is necessary. This is especially true whenever you’re visiting an inmate in jail. Being searched may be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary.
Odd and End Rules of Visiting with an Inmate
Most of the rules and regulations have been put in place because they have had someone try to “try” something. There are some odds and end rules of visiting with an inmate that you should know about.
- All people are subject to search: You may not realize this but even your car is subject to search, whenever it’s on the property of a state or federal prison. While this may not be new information, it’s info that everyone should know!
- Minors cannot visit without an approved guardian: Although this can be hard for some parents who are serving time in prison, all children must have an approved guardian with them. Prison visits are hard enough on kids, but there are also rules for kids in place for a reason.
- The duration of the visit can vary: If there is a fight that breaks out or the staff feels like visitation isn’t going well, the time can end at any time. It’s important to know this, so that you don’t get upset if it happens.
Hopefully, this prison visitation guide helps walk you through the visitation process with an inmate. While this is never an easy process, it’s one worth following through with. Inmates need loved ones to talk to, converse with, hug, and love on.
Just because someone committed a crime, it doesn’t mean they’re not human and don’t deserve human contact. When you’re visiting with an inmate, try to keep things light, fun, and loving. After all, they see enough dark days in prison.