What to Wear to Visit Someone in Jail

When someone goes to jail or prison, it affects everyone in their lives. As difficult as being incarcerated is for an inmate, their loved ones on the outside have their own sets of problems and obstacles.

Something as simple as talking is far from easy because of the astronomical fees required for an inmate to make a phone call, the restricted mail rules, and the limited inmate visiting hours. 

When you find out someone close to you is in jail, the first thing you are going to want to do is go visit them at the earliest opportunity. While the circumstances surrounding someone going to jail as opposed to prison are completely different, the basic visiting rules are quite common.

This leads us to today’s blog post: what to wear to visit someone in jail. 

In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:

  • What is the difference between visiting someone in jail and visiting someone in prison?
  • Is there a dress code when you visit someone in jail?
  • Is the dress code different for contact and non-contact visits?

What is the difference between visiting someone in jail and visiting someone in prison?

After being in prison for four years (with an added four months in the county jail), it is one of my biggest pet peeves when people conflate the words “jail” and “prison.” They are two very different things, even though they appear to be the same from the outside.

A prison is a correctional facility run by the state or federal government where someone serves a sentence handed down to them from the court after being convicted of or pleading guilty to a felony. A felony is sort of a higher level type of crime, like robbery, assault, and murder. People who have committed drug crimes — from possession to trafficking — also go to prison.

People who go to prison are usually serving a sentence with some length to it — normally more than a year — because they have committed a felony. They are felons who have been ordered to be rehabilitated by the department of corrections because the law dictates that they must be separated from society. 

On the other hand, a jail is a facility located in different cities and counties that holds people BEFORE they’ve been convicted of a crime. Jails are where you go when you get arrested for anything from unpaid parking tickets to murder. They are where you are held if the court has imposed a bail amount on you after being charged with a crime.

Jail is also a place where people serve their sentences for misdemeanors. These are lower level types of crimes that bring a sentence of less than one year. Misdemeanors are offenses like traffic violations, petty theft, and DWIs. 

I should also make it clear that people can spend years in jail waiting to go to trial. Because our criminal justice system is so slow, those who can’t afford to bail themselves out or who are being held without bail will usually be held in a city or county jail while they are waiting for their day in court.

When it comes to visiting inmates, the specific rules and visiting hours will vary from jail to jail and prison to prison. However, there are some common basic rules, like don’t bring contraband, do bring a photo ID, and dress appropriately.

Is there a dress code when you visit someone in jail?

Yes, there is always a dress code when you visit someone in jail or prison, and it is always family-friendly. The specifics do vary based on facility. As a rule, prison and jail dress codes prohibit tight, see-through, and revealing clothing, and they don’t allow clothing with profanity, sex, violence, drug, or gang references.

Another thing to remember is never wear clothing that is the same color as the prison uniform. That can be anything from bright orange to navy blue, so try to find out what the color the inmate uniform is at the facility you will be visiting.

All male visitors must wear long pants, and females can wear long pants or skirts that hit past the knee. Shorts and capris are a no-no, as are clothing with holes or garments that are ripped or torn in some way.

You are always required to wear undergarments, and most facilities will make you leave outer garments like coats and jackets in the lobby or in your vehicle.

You can call the jail to find out what their specific visiting dress code is, and they will usually provide that information.

Is the dress code different for contact and non-contact visits?

The dress code is the same no matter if your visit is contact or non-contact. However, if the visit is non-contact — which means there is some kind of glass or barrier between you and the inmate — they may not be as strict as they would be with a contact visit. It really just depends on the facility.

No matter if an inmate is in jail or prison, it is wise to find out in advance the dress code of the facility you are visiting. If you are not dressed appropriately, they will deny you the chance to visit with your inmate. So, remember to be prepared and know the rules before you travel to the jail.

Have you visited someone in jail? What was the experience like? Let us know in the comments below.

Sources:  

Prison Dress Code: What To Wear When Visiting A Loved One

https://prisonthehiddensentence.com/helpful-information/prison-dress-code/

Visitors Dress Code

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doc/inmate-info/visitors-dress-code.page

About the Author Natalie

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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