What you should know before your prison visit

Visiting an inmate is more complicated than just arriving and getting in line. You need to know all the particulars to ensure that you can actually see your loved one.

Here are a few things to consider while planning your next visit:

Make sure you’re on the list

One of the first things you need to do before your visit is to make sure you’re on your loved one’s approved list. Inmates create lists of who is allowed to visit them.

Arrive early

Once you know you’re on the list, your next step is to figure out what the visitation days and times are. Plan to visit during one of those allowed times, but make sure to give yourself a cushion.

You need to arrive before the visitation time, not just to sign-in, but also to ensure you beat the crowd. Some days draw more visitors, and prisons have capacity limits, so if you want to ensure you get in, it’s important to arrive early. Touch base with any other loved ones who might want to visit with you. Most prisons only allow two guests at a time.

Know what you’re allowed to bring

Before going into the prison, you’ll need to be aware of the rules. Some facilities don’t allow certain things in their visiting area, so familiarize yourself with their regulations ahead of time. The prison may have vending machines and/or lockers in the waiting room, so you may want to bring a little change to use for that. If you’re bringing money to your loved one, find out what the rules are.

Wear the appropriate attire

Keep in mind that some types of clothing may not be okay to wear for visits. Typically, this refers to clothing that is too revealing. You can always check with the prison ahead of time to see what their specific rules are regarding this.

Check age requirements and bring identification

Age requirements are another thing to be aware of. Some prisons only allow those who are aged 18+ to visit. Others allow minors, but only if an adult is present with them. Bring an official ID and a birth certificate as a backup.

Be prepared for security measures

Be aware that you will need to go through a metal detector. The prison guards may also pat you down or search you if they feel it is needed. In addition, some prisons require a fingerprint ID or iris scan.

Call ahead if you’re traveling

If you’re traveling a distance to visit your loved one, you may want to call ahead to make sure they’re not on lockdown. Yes, it is possible that they could go on lockdown before you arrive, but it’s still worth making the call in advance in case lockdown has already been initiated.

Find out rules regarding affection and touch

One more thing you’ll want to find out before visiting is what their rules are about affection and touch. For example, can you hug at the end of the visit? How far do you have to sit apart? These are the types of things you’ll want to be aware of prior to going in so you don’t violate the rules.

As you can see, there is a lot to know before you visit a loved one in prison. But as long as you do some research and follow the rules, everything should go smoothly. Plus, it’s well worth it in order to see your loved one.

[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]

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