The first step to visiting someone in jail or prison while you are on probation is to discuss it with your probation officer. If you are on felony probation, you were probably told that you are not allowed to associate with any known felons. Obviously, someone in prison is a felon; therefore, you will need special permission to visit that person. When it comes to visiting a misdemeanor offender, or someone who has been charged with a felony but has not yet been convicted, the rules are not as clear. Getting your probation officer’s permission to visit someone in jail or prison protects you from a technical violation.
Many jails require that the inmate put you on his or her visiting list prior to the first visit. Make sure your loved one has the correct spelling of your name and your birth date, as these may be required on the visitation list forms.
Call the county jail several days before you want the first visit to take place to find out if they have a visitors list and if you are on it. Ask the jail personnel what information they will need from you to schedule a visit. Different counties have different rules. For example, in Clark County, Nevada, you are required to appear in person, produce a government-issued identification and fill out a form about yourself, including your probation status. They won’t stop you from visiting on probation, but they can reject your application if you have lied about it. They will then run a check to be sure you do not have active warrants and that there are no restraining orders in place between you and the inmate. Once you clear that hurdle, you are given a sign in code and are expected to go online to set up visitation times. In Sumner County, Tennessee, it is simpler. As long as the inmate has you on the visitation list and you have a government-issued photo id, you are good to go. Simply call during business hours to schedule your visit.
In most cases, your inmate has to mail you a visitation application. You fill this out, including information about any arrests, convictions, or pending charges you have in your life, and mail it back. The form will ask you to disclose your probation status. Most forms also ask for the state and county you are being supervised in and the name of your probation officer. Be aware that he or she may be contacted by the prison to insure that it is okay for you to visit. Failure to disclose your probation status can get your application rejected because the prison will find it while conducting a background check to process your application. The approval process for you may take longer than for someone who is not on probation. It can take several weeks to several months depending on whether the prison contacts your probation officer and how long he or she takes to respond. Once everything has been checked out, your incarcerated loved one will receive notification from the prison about whether you can visit. It is up to the inmate to notify you of the decision. Reasons for denial can include an unfavorable report by your parole officer, if the inmate is your charge partner, or if you have prior charges involving the introduction of contraband materials to a penal facility. Reasons for allowing visits, even between felons, include being engaged, married, or in an adult-child/parent relationship, or because of immediate family member status.