What You Should Know to Make the Visit Easier Than You Think:

Visiting an inmate for the first time can be nerve-wracking and complex, especially if you’re clueless of what you need to do or prepare for the visit. Should you just walk in to the jail house and look for your loved one? Should you write a letter? Telephone them, perhaps? All these can do the work, but may come off a bit complicated if not done correctly. Below is the list of the stuff that you need to note before you head for your visit to an inmate in federal prison.

Make an Inmate Search

This is the first information that you should have on hand prior to anything else. Prisoners are regularly transferred to different locations and facilities for various reasons, so it is wise to confirm where they are presently detained prior to arrangement of the visit. How do you locate the present facility that handles them? Simply search for through the, as they have the complete list of incarcerated federal inmates from 1982 to the present. Any federal inmate information prior to 1982 is not in the possession of the BOP, but you can try getting in touch with NARA instead through their website, to check if the information that you are looking for is with them. If you are aware of the current state that provides custody of the inmate you’re locating, you can also search for them through the local state .gov websites such as California, Texas, or in Arizona.

Learn About Different Types of Visitations

Nowadays, there are several options to conduct the visitation to an inmate. With the technology that we have today, even a video visit can be done, similar to Skype or FaceTime video call, you can talk to an inmate without leaving your home. This type of visit may or may not be available, depending on the facility if they offer this type of inmate visit. The most common visitations are the “non-contact” (separated by a glass) and “contact” (face to face, limited contact) visits. The options available vary on the Jail house, the warden and the degree of charges against the inmate.

Are You on the Approved List?

All federal inmates have their individual approved visitors, aside from immediate family, and you should be in on the list to be able to request for a visit. Generally, an inmate is allowed to list down not more than ten friends and associates who are not family members. Otherwise, you have to fill out a visiting application through the correctional facility where the inmate is located. Most institutions require a completely filled out and approved visitor’s application prior to the visit. Applications vary by state, so make sure that you get in contact through their website to access their application forms, or walk to their local office.

Know State Rules in Visitation

Prior to the actual visit, make sure that it is scheduled properly, by checking what are the prescribed visitation hours and its duration. Generally, each inmate is allowed to have four hours of visiting time monthly, but some wardens provide more, like with Florence, Colorado, as they permit each inmate to receive five visits per month, and the maximum duration of visit is seven hours. Also, know who you can bring and what to wear. All jail houses prohibit provocative or revealing outfits such as shorts and see-throughs, so wear something decent and “covered”. Children under 16 years are typically allowed to visit as long as they are in the visiting list and they are accompanied by a guardian. Additionally, there are strict guidelines when it comes to what you can bring to your loved one, and you should present yourself, and your belongings, for any security checks to be done prior to entry to the facility.

Plan for the Visit

Most facilities are open for a visit during weekends and holidays, but the visitation hours may be limited to avoid over-crowded visitations. It is still best to plan your visiting time during weekdays, as most facilities offer weekday visits, and they are less crowded. For the visiting schedule, it is best to confirm with the inmate this information or contact the facility to confirm schedule through this list. In certain situations of an inmate, or the facility itself, the visitation schedule can change. So, make sure to contact the facility prior to the planned visit.


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