What to Expect When Visiting an Inmate For The First Time: Breaking Down The Process

What to Expect When Visiting an Inmate For The First Time: Breaking Down The Process

According to a groundbreaking 2018 study, almost half of all American families have experienced the incarceration of one of their members. This means that many familial relationships suffer significantly from being unable to see each other for extended periods of time. Jail Exchange offers the most comprehensive collection in the US of free resources for conducting a thorough inmate search to find the incarcerated person you wish to see.

Most incarcerated people are allowed visitors on certain days and times that may vary depending on the facility housing them. After locating who you want to visit via our inmate search, the first visit may be confusing, and you should be prepared to follow specific guidelines that pertain to each facility. Here, we will outline the general process of how to visit an inmate for the first time.

Make Sure You Are On The Inmate’s Pre-Approved Visitors List

When the inmate arrives at the incarceration facility, they receive a Visitor Information form to fill out and mail copies to each potential visitor. When you receive your copy of the form, accurately fill in all the required information to ensure your request to visit is easily and quickly approved. If you are not a relative or immediate family member of the inmate you want to visit, you must meet specific criteria to become an approved visitor. Non-related approved visitors include foreign officials, friends, clergy, employers, and attorneys.

Familiarize Yourself With The Rules And Expectations Of Visitors

Once you’re an approved visitor for an inmate list, you must learn and comply with the rules and restrictions of the incarceration facility. Make sure to arrive a few minutes early, as there may be some paperwork you must fill out when you enter. While there may be variations depending on the location and type of facility, the following are some general rules that most facilities require visitors to follow.

Maintain A Calm Demeanor During Your Visit

Many facilities have communal visitation areas where visitors and inmates gather under the watch of correctional officers. Even though emotions may run high if you’re having difficult conversations during your visit, the correctional officers may force you to leave if you or the inmate are disruptive.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

The clothing you wear can determine whether or not you can enter the facility for visitation. Examples of prohibited clothing include:

  • Military uniforms
  • Clothes that resemble the staff’s or inmates’ clothing in the facility
  • Scrubs
  • Revealing or provocative clothing

We recommend that you have a change of clothes in your car just in case something about your first outfit is deemed inappropriate by the officers in charge.

Know What Items Are Required, Allowed, And Prohibited

Before arriving at an incarceration facility, please ensure that there is no contraband in your car or on your person, as you will have to comply with searches upon entering the parking lot and the building. Other prohibited items you cannot take to the visitation include cigarettes and medications.

You must bring your valid state-issued photo identification or driver’s license with your date of birth and address that matches the dates you submitted on your visitor application. It is recommended that you double-check the requirements of the specific facility you are visiting, as some may ask for additional identification methods.

Many incarceration facilities generally allow visitors to bring one car key, their identification, and some cash and change for the vending machines in the visitation area. Again, you should always ask the facility before assuming what is and isn’t allowed.

At Jail Exchange, we understand the importance of visiting your incarcerated loved ones for your relationships and their future. That is why our extensive inmate search and resource database is free for everyone. Visit our FAQ page or send us a message if you have any additional questions about finding your incarcerated relative or their specific facility.