If you’ve never visited a loved one in prison before, it can seem intimidating, maybe even a little scary. Obeying the visiting rules, regulations and procedures specific to the prison can be daunting to say the least. But making the effort to foster the relationship between the child and loved one in prison is worth all the inconvenience.
Knowing in advance what to expect alleviates some of the pressure. Here are some things to know before taking your child on a prison visit:
Get on the Approved List
Make sure you comply with the specific institutions rules to get on the approved list. This will ensure you don’t travel all that way for nothing. Most institutions have a simple form that can be submitted by an inmate or sent from an inmate’s prison to the loved one.
Keep in mind that immediate family and relatives are the easiest to get on the list. Relatives include grandparents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, and cousins. Other types of approved visitors are friends (usually an approved list of fewer than 10 individuals), attorneys, employers, and more.
Follow the Dress Codes
Not following the dress code for an institution you visit may mean you will not be able to get into the visiting room that day. It’s important to know, whether by the state’s dress code visiting rules or that specific location. Everyone who wishes to get into the prison visiting room will need to abide by the visiting rules. Common clothes not allowed are revealing clothes, hats or clothing that resembles inmates’ attire.
Arrive on Time
Check your loved one’s facility for visitation hours, typically weekends and holidays. Thus, there may be additional days depending on the security level of the facility. For a list of federal prisons, visit the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website; for state or private prisons, do a quick internet search for your institution’s visiting hours.
Prepare your Child for a Visit
Most prisons allow for a high five, hug, handshake or kiss at the beginning and end of the visit. But, for security reasons, that will only be a brief moment. It will be helpful for your child to prepare for that emotionally. Also, help your child think of questions to ask, or have them write a thoughtful note or keepsake for your loved one in prison. Be sure to check with your institution to see what is allowed in the visiting room.
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Preparing for a visit gives you peace of mind and will prepare you emotionally to have a fun and safe visit. Investing in your child’s life is crucial to their future, and making prison visits a priority is one of the best ways to help your child stay connect with their loved one in prison. Despite some of the difficult things it takes to get to the visiting room, investing into your loved one’s relationship is well worth it.