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General rules to visiting an inmate

Visits are a great way to stay in touch, but they are also important for other reasons.

If you really want to know how your loved one is doing—go visit them.  You learn so much more about how they are adjusting, if they are well, and the different programs they are participating in during a visit.

Every prison has different rules when it comes to prison visits.  There are so many rules you must know and must follow if you want to visit your husband/loved one.  Some allow visits without a reservation, others only allow visits with reservations; some prisons wont’ allow visits for the first 30-90 days, while others allow visits as soon as processing is complete. Most of the time, you can find the rules for visiting online.

General Rules

There are some general rules that are universal, though.  If you are planning to visit your loved one in prison, here are six things you need to know:

1 - Read the rules for visiting

Every institution has written policies for visits.  Find them and read them. This way, you will not be guessing what you can and cannot do- you will know.

2 - Fill out the forms for visiting.

In order to visit a loved one in prison, prisons required certain forms filled out that place you on a visiting list.  It is important to find out if you are responsible for completing the forms and returning them or if your incarcerated loved one is responsible. (see #1 above)

Learning to cope with your loved one in prison is important. You need to manage your home, your children, your finances, his case/attorneys, and every other detail of your life now. The pressure is extreme. The grief is suffocating. But you cannot give up.

Read more

going to jail prison blog

3 - Prison Visiting Rooms

Do NOT take anything into the prison visiting room with you that is not on the list of “approved things to take on visits” Leave everything in your car except for your ID and car keys on your first visit.

4 - Be patient

You will wait to sign in, wait to get processed, go through security clearance, then to go into the visit area; and then you will wait for your loved one to come into the visit.  Take your patience with you and be prepared to wait so you won’t get frustrated or concerned when it happens.

5 - You will have limited physical contact or no physical contact with your loved one.

Depending on the institution, you will not be able to touch at all, or you will have 3-5 seconds for a brief hug and light kiss at the beginning and end of the visit. Being prepared for very little contact will help you focus on seeing him and enjoying the visit without getting your visit cut short because of “inappropriate touching.” What we consider inappropriate out here is a far cry from what is considered inappropriate inside. Even a 10-second hug can terminate your visit. Know the rules (see #1 above!)

6 - Dress codes are strict for visitors.

Know what you can and cannot wear to ensure admittance.  I have seen this happen a LOT.  Do not take any chances with your clothing.  When in doubt, wear something else.  Wearing a conservative outfit that is approved by the prison is better than wearing a super cute outfit that gets you sent home without seeing him! (see #1 above)

These general rules will prepare you to have the best visit possible.  Be sure to look up the specific rules for the institution.  Seeing your loved one is worth the hassle of learning and following all of the rules—I promise!

I am rooting for you!