Supporting Families: Communication and Visitation Options

Supporting Families: Communication and Visitation Options

Did you know communicating with and visiting an inmate in jail or prison might do more than just help keep their spirits high during their time behind bars? It could also increase the chances of them turning their life around once they get out.

Over the years, quite a few studies have shown that inmates who communicate with their loved ones and receive visits from them are less likely to end up back in jail in the future. This should motivate you to want to keep in contact with loved ones in jail or prison and find out about jail visiting hours so that you can go to see them.

It can, however, be a little bit confusing trying to navigate your way through the different communication and jail visitation options you'll have. This guide will walk you through these options. It'll allow you to keep in touch with an inmate and take advantage of inmate visitation hours.

Communication Options for Those With Loved Ones in Jail or Prison

Visiting an inmate every week or even every month might not always be a possibility for you. In some cases, a jail or prison where a loved one is housed might be situated too far from your home and make it impossible for you to go and see them all the time. In other instances, your schedule might not work well with the jail visiting hours at a particular jail or prison.

But this doesn't mean you can't still provide plenty of moral support to a loved one who is spending time in jail or prison. There are a handful of ways in which you can continue to communicate with them and show your support for them throughout their jail or prison stint. Here are several of the best communication options you'll have.

Communicating by Phone

Communicating with a loved one who is in jail or prison by phone will be one of the simplest ways to stay in touch with them. But there are some things you'll need to keep in mind before you begin communicating with them in this way.

First and foremost, be aware of the fact that your calls with them can and likely will be monitored. You'll also typically only have a certain amount of time that you can speak with an inmate at a jail or prison by phone.

Additionally, communicating by phone with a loved one who is in jail or prison can be costly. In many cases, you will need to accept collect calls from them to communicate in this way, which will put the onus on you to pay for these calls.

A better option might be to see if your loved one is able to set up a pre-paid account through a jail or prison. It'll enable you to add funds to this account so that an inmate can contact you without having to call you collect.

Communicating by Email

Back in the late 2000s, a new trend started to emerge when it came to jail and prison communication options. Some jails and prisons began to allow inmates to communicate with those in the outside world through email, and this trend has continued right up until the present day.

However, you should know that communicating with a loved one who is in jail or prison through email will be different than communicating with others through email. You'll need to sign up for a special system that'll enable you to communicate with a loved one who is in jail or prison. You'll also often have to pay to send emails to them and have your emails screened in advance.

Communicating by Video

Speaking with a loved one who is in jail or prison in real-time through a screen isn't quite the same as finding out what the jail visiting hours are at their facility and going to see them. But it might be the next best thing.

Not all jails and prisons offer inmates the chance to communicate with their loved ones through video calls. But at least some of them have started to extend this opportunity. You should see if it might be an option for your loved one and find out which system a jail or prison uses.

You will usually need to schedule video calls through this system and pay for them. But video calls might be well worth it since they'll allow you to see your loved one in the flesh.

Communicating by Mail

Believe it or not, many jails and prisons have started to ban inmates from sending and receiving letters, cards, and other forms of physical mail. With this in mind, you'll want to see if the jail or prison that your loved one is housed in has created any mail restrictions.

If they have, you'll need to use one of the other communication options to connect with them. But if they haven't, you should be able to send mail to them as long as you follow the rules regarding mail and give jails and prisons the right to read through messages sent through the mail.

Visitation Options for Those With Loved Ones in Jail or Prison

As you've just seen, there are a variety of great ways to stay connected with a loved one when they're in jail or prison without visiting them. But whenever possible, you should make it a point to pay your loved one a visit.

Visiting an inmate will give them something to look forward to while they're serving a sentence. It'll also keep their connection with the outside world alive. Here are a few things to remember about jail visitation.

Figuring Out the Jail Visiting Hours

Every jail and prison will have its own jail visiting hours set up. You should be able to find the inmate visitation hours for the jail or prison where your loved one is locked up right on its website.

You might also want to reach out to a jail or prison to double-check its jail visiting hours ahead of time, especially if you're going to have to make a long trek to it. It'll help you avoid arriving at a jail or prison to see a loved one only to discover that its jail visiting hours have been changed for one reason or another.

Getting Pre-Approved for Jail Visitation

Every jail and prison takes a slightly different approach to jail visitation approvals. But more often than not, you will need to get pre-approved to go and see a loved one in jail or prison.

To get pre-approval, your loved one will likely need to create a visitor list and give it to the officials at a jail or prison. The jail or prison will then ask you to fill out several forms, run a background check on you, and let you know whether or not you've been approved for visits.

Seeing Which Types of Visitation a Jail or Prison Offers

There are a few different types of visitation that jails and prisons might offer. It'll be up to you to see which options will be available to you when you go to visit a loved one in a jail or prison.

You might be required to speak to a loved one through a glass partition during an in-person visit. You might also get the chance to sit in the same room with them with a jail or prison staff member watching over you. In this case, you'll be happy to hear the answer to the question, "Can you hug an inmate?", will often be "yes."

The answer to the question, "Can you hug an inmate?", will also be "yes" if a jail or prison allows conjugal visits. Some states continue to allow these types of visitation, which will give an inmate a chance to visit with someone overnight.

Abiding by the Jail Visitation Rules and Regulations

As you would probably expect, there are many jail visitation rules and regulations you'll need to follow when visiting a loved one in jail or prison. To start, you'll need to be prepared to abide by the jail visiting hours that have been put in place.

You might also be required to do things like:

  • Provide jail or prison officials with at least one valid form of ID
  • Stick to a conservative dress code
  • Steer clear of trying to bring anything in to an inmate

If you break any rules and regulations while visiting an inmate in jail or prison, it could prevent you from being able to come back for future visits. It could also lead to your loved one losing communication and visitation privileges and potentially suffering other consequences.

Visiting an Inmate in Jail or Prison Can Work Wonders for Them

Communicating with and visiting an inmate in jail or prison can be great for them. It can lift their spirits and show them that those in the outside world haven't forgotten about them.

Use what you've learned here to communicate with and visit a loved one who is behind bars. Just make sure you follow all the appropriate rules and know what the jail visiting hours are before doing anything else.

Take a look at our jail search function to learn more about the rules and regulations that a particular jail or prison has established.