There is a lot that goes into preparing for a prison visit.
If you have never had a loved one in prison, you may think it is easy to stay in touch. From the outside, it seems like all you need to do is get in your car and go visit your loved one prison. But, that is an illusion. When my husband Ron Tijerina was in prison, we learned there is a lot that goes into preparing for a prison visit.
Visiting someone in prison requires planning. There are several steps you must follow in order to make the prison visit a good one for both you and your husband. If you do not plan, chances are your visit will be disastrous.
Here are 8 steps to preparing for a good visit:
1 - Read the rules and know the rules for visiting.
The rules tell you when you can visit, for how long, what you can bring in, what you can wear, and every other detail you need know in order to get in and see your husband.
2 - Wear appropriate clothing.
Do you know what stops more people from seeing their loved one than anything else—the clothes they wear to the visit. If in doubt, dress modestly to ensure entrance.
When we visit, we made beautiful, meaningful memories together. I cannot begin to explain how poignant those hours were for us. All our actions were guided by the knowledge that we had so little time to be together. No distraction was important enough to penetrate our time with each other. The costs of coming to visit, the sacrifices we had to make to be there, none of those things mattered.
3 - Tell your husband when you are planning to come.
In the outside world surprises are fun, but not inside. If you surprise him, plan on waiting an extra long time while they find him and he gets ready to see you. When he knows you are coming, he will be ready and waiting for his pass.
3 - Call ahead.
Call ahead if it is your first visit at this institution to make sure you are on the visit list. This is really important even when he is transferring to a new institution. Each prison has their own rules and processes. Approval at one institution doesn’t guarantee entrance at the new institution.
4 - Get plenty of sleep the night before.
You do not want to be exhausted when see him. Not just because you won’t look your best, but also because you will be irritable and grumpy. Be sure to stay rested to ensure a great visit.
5 - Leave in plenty of time.
Don’t leave late and rush to get there. Leaving in a timely manner avoids the stress of running late. Allow yourself plenty of time for unexpected traffic or potty stops.
6 - Put all of your things in a see-through plastic bag.
Paperwork, vending card or money, ID, and anything else you need to get into the visit should be put in the bag the day before your visit. Then, put the bag in your purse so you don’t forget it!
7 - Choose 2 things you want to talk about during your visit.
One of them can be related to his case/legal work, but the other should be related to your relationship or family. This will allow him time to chose things he wants to talk about as well. More than 2 items will cause the visit to feel more like a business meeting than time together.
Being prepared for a good visit is important. Good visits don’t just happen, they are created by thoughtful planning.
I am rooting for you!