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What You Need to Know Before Visiting a Loved One in Prison

When a loved one ends up in prison, your first thoughts may be “When will I get to see them again?” If you’ve never visited a loved one in prison before it can seem intimidating, maybe even a little scary. By knowing what to expect you can alleviate some of the questions, fears, or uncertainty you may have.  There is a lot of information you need to know before visiting a loved one in prison. The information may also vary depending on where the prison is located. This blog will break down the overall process of visiting a loved one in prison. Always make sure to double-check with the exact institution.  The first step is to get pre-approved. You can only visit an inmate if they have placed you on their visiting list. This means the loved one you are visiting must have completed their portion of a visitor information form and mail you a copy. Once you complete your portion, send it back to your loved one’s address. There may be additional information requested, such as a background check. Your loved one is told if you are not approved. It is their responsibility to relay the information.  Immediate family, relatives, and a few others are who an inmate can add to their visiting list. The immediate family will include mother, father, step-parents, foster-parents, brothers, sisters, spouse, and children. 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. 

It is extremely benefical to be prepared prior to your visit. You should familiarize yourself with all visiting rules, regulations, and procedures of the exact institution before visiting.

It is important to remember there is a dress code to follow when visiting an inmate. Not following the dress code may result in being denied visitation. You should wear clothing that is appropriate for a large gathering of men, women, and children. The dress code may vary depending on where your loved one is located. The following items generally break the dress code: no revealing clothing (including tank tops and shorts), no hats or caps, no clothing that resembles inmate clothing.  An inmate gets at least four hours of visiting time per month by law. The prison can provide more time, however, the warden can restrict the time and/or the number of visitors to avoid overcrowding the visiting room.  In most cases, physical contact is allowed. Handshakes, hugs, and/or kisses are usually allowed at the beginning /end of each visit. Staff may limit physical contact for security reasons and to keep the visit orderly.  Visiting hours vary depending on the institution, but they all have visiting hours on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Many institutions also have times during the week they allow visitors. Visiting schedules will be different for each prison, your loved one should provide you with the visiting schedule for the location they are at.  You will need to arrange your own transportation to and from the prison. If you have any questions or concerns about transportation the best thing to do is to call the prison, the staff can help provide further directions/instructions.  Hopefully, this provided you with all the information you need before visiting your loved one and set you up for success!  Visit for any additional information.