Prisons across the country have closed visiting rooms over the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, this is a safety precaution, but the damage this decision does to the health and well-being of prisoners cannot be underestimated.
Visitation is essential for prison inmates and most facilities encourage visitation. Keeping in touch with friends and family is an important factor when it comes to prisoner rehabilitation. It’s easy to feel left out when incarcerated, and communicating with loved ones can help prisoners get through their sentences with minimal problems.
When state and federal prisons reopen visiting rooms, I strongly encourage you to visit your inmates immediately.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the george floyd riots. They will long to see their loved ones again and learn what is going on in the free world.
Which brings us to today’s topic: How do I know if I’m on an inmate’s visitation list?
In this blog post, I’ll cover the following topics:
- Do you have to be approved?
- How do I get an application for access?
- Who do I contact?
- What happens when prisoners are transferred?
Do you have to be approved?
Yes. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and most correctional departments in all 50 states require visitors to obtain prior approval before visiting prison inmates. There are some exceptions to this rule, but the vast majority require all visitors (adults and minors) to complete a visitation application form and obtain approval from the prison administration before being granted visitation.
I should point out that most county and city jails do not require visitor approval. I do recommend that you call the prison and find out their specific visiting rules, it is usually best to show up early to get a spot in the visiting room as space is very limited.
How do I get an application for access?
Again, there are no universal rules when it comes to prisons, but there are two common ways you can get a visit application to visit your prison inmates. First, there are online options. The Federal Department of Prisons and some state DOC sites do have online visitor application forms that you can download, print, fill out and return to the prison.
We make sure to provide a link on the facility’s visitor app when we can Prison Insights list.
It also includes information on where you should send your completed form when the Visit Application is available online. Some institutions will ask you to mail it by regular mail, while others will give you a way to complete and submit the form online.
Another option regarding visitation applications is to have your inmate send you an application by phone or letter. Typically, prisoners send applications to family and friends they wish to be added to the visiting list.
It should be noted that prisoners have the right to exclude you from their visiting list if they do not want to see you. They are under no obligation to send you an application, or to be present in the visiting room.
Who do I contact?
The best way to find out if you are on an inmate’s visit list is to ask them by phone or through inmate mail. If you haven’t filled out the application form, you are most likely not on the list. If you have completed an application form and sent it back to the prison, the prisoner will be notified of the prison administration’s decision.
You may not be notified if you are approved. Instead, inmates will hear from their caseworkers and let you know. If you are denied, the DOC or BOP will usually send you a letter explaining why they are denying your application.
Potential visitors who are denied include those with criminal histories, those currently on probation/parole, those with no relationship to an inmate prior to admission, and former prison staff. Each facility has specific rules about who is not allowed in the visiting room.
If you cannot get in touch with your inmate, you can call their caseworker directly. They will tell you if you are approved or rejected, or they will pass the message on to the inmate and have them contact you to let you know your status.
What happens when prisoners are transferred?
If your inmate has been transferred to a different facility in the same state, you will still be on their approved visitation list. The same thing applies to prisoners in the federal system. However, if the prisoner moves from state to state, from state to federal, or from federal to another state, then you will need to reapply to visit your prisoner.
I cannot stress enough the importance of visitation when you are in prison. So, once the visiting rooms reopen, be sure to put visiting your inmates at the top of your to-do list.
When was the last time you visited your prisoner? Let us know in the comments below.