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When I was in prison, there was nothing that brought me more joy than a visit from a loved one. I looked forward to every visit with crazy anticipation, and when the moment finally arrived, those four hours flew by way too fast.
Most prisons have visiting hours on the weekends, but the number, length, and schedule of visit varies by facility because of their different capacities to host visitors. Some facilities will only allow immediate family members (spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and step relatives), while others might allow visits from anyone on an inmate’s approved visitor list.
As a rule, an inmate is only allowed one visit per day, and there is always a limit to how many people can visit with an inmate at one time.
Before you visit your inmate for the first time, make sure to know the rules of the facility before you go. And, if you are wondering what you should talk about during a visit, just remember that your inmate is simply thrilled to see you, and they will want to talk about anything and everything.
But, what if you have more than one loved one in prison? This leads us to today’s topic: can you be on two inmate visiting lists?
In this blog post I will cover the following topics:
Nearly every state and federal prison requires all potential visitors to fill out a visiting application for approval from the prison administration. Visits are a huge security risk, so the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the state’s Department of Corrections are very picky about who they allow into their facilities.
To get approval for a visit, you first need to get an application and fill it out. Ask your inmate on the phone or in a letter to send you a blank application to fill out. Some prisons actually have an application available online to fill out, and when that’s the case we make sure here at PrisonInsight to provide links when they are available.
Once you complete the form should return it to the address provided. Then, they will complete a criminal history check. If no issues are identified, you will be added to the visiting list. Usually, the inmate will receive notification advising them of the status and they are responsible for notifying you of the decision.
Do not attempt to visit your inmate until you are notified that you have been officially approved.
If you try to visit with approval and be added to the inmate’s list, you will be denied and your time will have been wasted.
No. You are not guaranteed approval to visit your inmate. Some facilities will allow immediate family members to visit no matter what, but most require you to fill out an application and get approved. Immediate family – accordion to the BOP – is defined as: mother, father, step-parent, foster parent, brother, sister, spouse, and children.
Ex-offenders may or may not be approved to visit depending upon their criminal history, release status and mandatory approval from their supervising probation and parole officer. Additional information, such as a marriage license or birth certificate, may be required before final visitor approval is granted to spouses or children.
Relatives who can be added to an inmate’s visiting list include grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws. Other types of approved visitors are: friends/associates (usually no more than 10), foreign officials, members of religious groups and clergy, members of civic groups, a former or prospective employer, sponsors, parole advisors, and attorneys.
If you are the victim of the person’s crime – especially if it is sexual or violent in nature – you will most likely not be allowed to visit the inmate. Also, if you didn’t know the inmate before their incarceration, you will probably be denied the opportunity to visit.
If you’re a member of the media, a visit would fall under a special category and you would need special approval from the prison administration to visit with an inmate.
Normally, you don’t. A visitor may only be on one inmate’s visiting list unless you are verified as an immediate family member of more than one offender.
Have you ever been denied entry into a prison visiting room? Let us know what happened in the comments below.
Sources: General Visiting Information https://www.bop.gov/inmates/visiting.jsp Visitation Information https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/visitors/
Natalie earned her Bachelors degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas, and has worked in television and radio during her career. When she was a 19-year-old sophomore at KU, she got her first on-air job as a sports reporter for a CBS-TV affiliate. In 2013, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the possession and production of marijuana. She was released in 2017. We've kept her last name off of our website so that she does not experience any professional hardship for her contributions.
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