How the Inmates’ Visitation System Works in Prison or Jail

By | February 1, 2016
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Communication plays a vital role during incarceration of a family member or friend. Since all prisoners have the privilege and eligibility to receive visits, prison and county jail institutions recognize the importance of this, because visitation motivates to maintain a positive outlook of each inmate toward optimistic objectives. Sooner, this will greatly contribute to the prisoner’s success once he attains his freedom. However, this privilege can also be temporarily lost once a prisoner undergoes a disciplinary action.

Prison visitations are mostly confusing and complicated, especially for first-time visitors. Visiting procedures are strictly applied and the visiting parties should orderly comply. Therefore, visitors must be guided accordingly on how the inmates’ visitation system works in prison or jail.

According to the U.S. Constitution, inmates should still have rights of association, and that’s why visitation is allowed—as long as it is not detrimental to the prisoner’s wellbeing, as well as that of his other inmates and of the facility itself.

Courts also are the ones responsible for deciding time, manner, and place of visiting—especially in facilities where safety and environmental hazards are the top problems. Population of inmates is also something that should be thought of. It is also deemed unconstitutional to let inmates stay in facilities where there’s not enough space for visitors to see them—it is an utter violation of their human rights. An inmate—as long as he’s not a Maximum Security inmate—should not be utterly separated from society.

You also have to take note that visitation without a glass barrier, or with close contact, especially when a lawyer is around, is applicable for most facilities—as long as the inmate is not a maximum security prisoner. However, when no lawyer is around, certain things have to be taken into consideration.

The visiting party should then be able to adhere to the facility’s rules, and may have to submit requests for visitation. They have to provide a proper rationale for the visit. If there are really young children, there may be times when they might not be granted permission to be in prison—but only for their own good. Religious advisers or clergymen are also permitted to visit, but it’s still up to the heads of the facilities to decide about visitation hours and other regulations.

Before the events of 9/11, inmates had been granted the right of confidentiality in their visits, but after those grueling events, laws have been stricter—and limitations had to be observed. If reasonable suspicion has been proven by the Attorney General, then visits could be postponed, or requests have to be reviewed, and the visiting party, as well as the inmate, should wait for further notice.

Generally, most prisoners are allowed to receive contact visits which are limited to five approved visitors, where the prisoner may sit together with his visitors and may have limited physical contact. These visits usually occur in a large visiting room with many other prisoners and visitors. However, termination of visiting hours may happen due to either overcrowding as to give chance to other visits to begin, or unacceptable conduct on the part of the inmate or his visitor. On the other hand, prisoners who are recently admitted or transferred between prisons are restricted to non-contact visits with only limited time. The staff will escort the prisoner with handcuffs to the visiting booth with a glass partition between the prisoner and his visitors.

Condemned prisoners who are in line of Death Row may either receive contact or non-contact visits. The allowed time in this kind of visit is usually limited to one to two hours only.

In addition to the type of visits available, the so-called family visits are an option to some prisoners. The prison ground has apartment-like facilities where family visits can only occur, which could last for about 30 to 40 hours. The restriction in these visits is only to the immediate family members of the prisoner, such as his parents, children, siblings, and legal spouses, thus, maintaining and developing a stronger family bond.

Aside from these kinds of social visitations, there’s also an occurrence of legal visits with an attorney provided with the approval of institution’s staff. Religious visits are also common inside a prison or in jail. Bringing of religious books (Bible, Quran, etc.) for the visit is permitted once the item has been approved by the institution chaplain.

In the precedence of visitations, all adult visitors are basically required to present valid and current forms of identification (ID). Minors are required to be accompanied by their parents and there must be a certified copy of birth certificate to be presented. However, in the absence of a parent, a proof of legal guardianship or a notarized written consent authorization is required.

Visiting days and hours vary by institution, but every prison has visiting on weekends and four holidays during each calendar year. In general, specified visiting hours usually start between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. and ends between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. All institutions have given their numbers and websites to provide information for visitors regarding days and hours of visiting. Visitors should be wise to check with the local institution prior to visiting, so as to acquire a better understanding of how the inmates’ visitation system works in prison or jail.

These days, you can also schedule visits through the web. There are websites that allow you to create accounts, and afterwards, you get to choose the facility where the inmate you want to visit is staying, and choose whether you have to visit immediately, or if you’re scheduling a later visit. You’d then have to pay a small fee, and you’d get to immediately see the inmate online—as long as the facility he’s staying in allows web visits.

There’s also such a thing as conjugal visits. These are given to inmates who have been in prison for around 8 years, and have been showing good behavior. Their legal spouse could stay with them, and even engage in consensual sexual activity in a private structure or room that’s provided for them, with towels and bed linens also provided. These are used as perks so that inmates would be encouraged to stay in their best behavior, and engage in activities that would benefit themselves and the facility, as well.

All visitors should be aware of how the inmates’ visitation system works in prison or jail. They must comply with all the procedures, regulations and restrictions of an institution to avoid any inconveniences and hindrances. In general, rules exist to ensure the security and good order of the institution. Visitors and inmates are fully expected to maintain proper behavior for a safe and harmonious visit.

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