When a loved one is incarcerated, it is important to stay in touch with them to keep your relationship alive and boost their mental well-being. A great way to foster your connection and bring a smile to their face is to visit them in person. A face-to-face interaction will help your incarcerated loved one be reminded that they are not alone, and help keep your bond alive. However, visiting an incarcerated person is not a simple, spur-of-the-moment, as often as you want type of thing. There are many procedures and protocols you must follow to be able to have a stress free visit. If it’s your first time visiting someone in jail, follow these do’s and don’ts before you go.
DO: Check the specific facility’s rules
Before making any plans to visit your incarcerated loved one, you must check the rules and regulations of the specific facility where they are being held. You can either check the facility’s website or give them a call if the information is not listed online. This first step is imperative before you move on to planning your visit.
DON’T: Show up unannounced
Visiting a jail is not like going to the mall, taking a trip to the zoo, or going to grandma’s house—you cannot show up whenever you please. You must schedule a visit ahead of time with the specific facility you are visiting. Typically, there is an approval process each visitor must go through before they can schedule a visit. The facility will have limits on how often you can visit as well.
DO: Adhere to the rules
The more you follow the rules, the smoother your visit will be. Things like arriving early, bringing the proper documentation, and supervising children are all very important. Doing so will ensure you are allowed to see your incarcerated loved one and that’s the ultimate goal right?
DON’T: Break the dress code
Most jails and prisons have a strict dress code for visitors coming in to see inmates. A general rule of thumb is to avoid tight fitting, see-through, and midriff-baring clothing. Avoid shorts and ripped jeans, and wear closed-toed shoes. You should wear undergarments and socks as well. It is also important to avoid any clothing that could be considered gang related. Also make sure to avoid wearing the same color as the inmates. The color they wear and the specific visitor dress code can usually be found on the facility’s website.
DO: Talk about the important things
With visits being limited in time and frequency, use this time to talk about the important things with your loved one. Try to avoid sensitive topics like release dates, and focus on what your inmate wants to discuss. Check out more tips on what to talk about with your incarcerated loved one here.
DON’T: Bring them any items
To avoid the trading of contraband from guests, it is important to note that you cannot bring your incarcerated loved one any items when you visit. Most facilities will allow you to bring in cash for the vending machines, but will cap it around $20. However, outside gifts, clothing or food will not be allowed inside the facility.
DO: Send them photos ahead of time through Pelipost
Although you cannot bring items to give your loved one during your visit, you CAN send them photos ahead of time through Pelipost. A physical photo is a cherished item your incarcerated loved one will be able to look back on in between visits.