One of the things that stood out to me during my first few days in prison was the shock of having everything taken from me. When you are transported to the facility and accepted for reception, they will place you in a separate area away from the general population so that you can be evaluated and triaged. This process usually takes about a month because you have to take a series of different tests. They can find out about your education, your physical health, your mental health, etc…
You have absolutely no access to anything while you are in receiving state. Even the items that can be bought in the commissary are limited, and it usually takes a few days to get money from books or go to the store. So, you sit there with nothing but what the prison gives you ㅡ clothes, a toothbrush, a small bottle of shampoo, a blanket, and a laundry bag. That’s it. Anything you bring will be taken away.
So what exactly would you do if you went to jail wearing contact lenses? The answer to this question depends on what kind of facility you are being held in. Which leads to today’s question: Can you make contact in prison?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- Can federal prisoners wear contact lenses in jail?
- Can state inmates wear contact lenses in jail?
Can federal prisoners wear contact lenses in jail?
In a word, no. Prisoners are not allowed to wear contact lenses unless medically necessary. Otherwise, Bureau of Prisons policy is that contact lenses must be sent home and inmates must wear prescription glasses.
An ophthalmologist will visit each prison regularly for eye examinations and glasses. Any inmate who wants to see an ophthalmologist and be evaluated for eyeglasses must submit a request in advance.
Once they make a request, prisoners are put on a waiting list and given an approximate appointment date, which could be weeks or months away.
If an ophthalmologist determines that a prisoner needs a pair of glasses, the doctor will order them for the prisoner at the government’s expense. Then, it takes about four to six weeks to receive them.
Spectacles from outside sources are not allowed in federal prisons unless deemed necessary by the clinical director.
Can state inmates wear contact lenses in jail?
As for states, policies vary. I was incarcerated in Missouri and they do allow you to wear contact lenses but there is a catch. You’ll have to buy contact solution and enclosures from the commissary (which are much more expensive than they should be), so you’ll have to have money on your books to buy the supplies you need.
Family members can mail in contact lenses or glasses from outside suppliers, so you don’t have to wait to see a doctor. This is a plus.
I know in some state agencies, they allow you access, but you can only get solutions from a doctor. It is closely monitored like a drug. Then, there are other states that don’t allow contact at all, like federal prisons.
Contact rules vary by state and facility. Even if you’re in a facility that allows contact, it’s usually best to just wear glasses since they’re much less expensive. Much less hassle.
The most important thing is to be able to see. It doesn’t matter if you look good with glasses or not. It doesn’t matter what you look like, because the glasses issued by those countries are not attractive to most people.
The frames are large and the lenses are thick. The inmates I was with called them “ChoMo 5000s” because when you wear them you look like a sex offender. There is no other way to describe it.
Should prisoners be allowed to wear contact lenses? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Inmate Admission & Orientation Handbook For Federal Correctional Institutions and Prison Camps