Visiting A Loved One in Prison

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Is Your Loved One in Prison?

Visiting a love one in prison (camp or otherwise) can be a very rewarding experience. I admit it, I loved seeing my mom during visiting hours. She only came to visit twice during my stay at Herlong Prison Camp, but those times were simply amazing! I have never forgotten how much it meant to me to catch up with family affairs. I loved the fact that I was able to ease my mom’s emotions about my safety while behind bars.

In fact, this is a common experience. Talking to a few brothers inside, it was expressed that their most important aspect of visitation was providing relief to their family members. In visitation, family, friends and other loved ones can physically see that you’re safe and in good health. A lot of times people only have TV to relate to and knowing you’re in a place like TV prison brings a certain fear to mind.  It’s difficult to provide true relief to someone over the phone, but seeing someone face to face makes the difference.

There is a certain process needed in order to visit a family member or loved one. Below is a visiting form for those who need to visit your loved ones inside a prison camp.  Please be sure to contact your loved one to make sure the counselor’s name is correct.

Herlong Prison Camp Visitor Form

Once you fill out this form and send it in, you will be waiting about two weeks until it is approved. The bad part is that you will never receive confirmation of the approval. Instead, you will have to contact your loved one to make sure they received approval and updates. Each night, inmates receive a handout of who is on their approved visiting list. It is important to let your loved one know when you will be arriving. Let them know by phone or email the day and time you expect to visit so they can be ready. If someone visits unexpectedly and an inmate is called three times and misses each call, the visitor will be sent home. I’m unsure if this is just hearsay, but I wouldn’t risk it.

At Herlong Prison, inmates are counted at 10:00 am. These counts can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. It all depends on the CO’s and what they are dealing with that morning. If you arrive around 10:00 am you will have to wait until count is complete before your loved one is released to the visiting room. However, if you arrive between 8:00 am and 9:30 am and your loved one is in the visiting room before 10:00 am, then all is well.

Before you visit, make an effort to know the rules as well as your rights as a visitor. The following list is extremely important. Keep these rules in mind while visiting your loved one.

(The following is copied and pasted from the BOP website)

“Visiting is an extremely important family function, and dress code requirements are necessary to maintain the dignity of those involved. All visitors will be properly dressed while at the institution. All visitors must wear a shirt. No shirtless visitors will be allowed. wearing short shorts (with Visitors are prohibited againstthe except of children 12 and under), miniskirts, low cut, (if skin can be seen see-through or transparent blouses or pants through the garment), tube, tank or halter tops, backless clothing, low cut blouses, shirts, dresses, sleeveless shirts or spaghetti straps, swim suits, sweat suits, spandex pants, bodysuits or any other type of form fitting pants or skirts, or excessively tight clothing of any type (e.g., skintight clothing, etc.). If a visitor chooses to wear a dress, the length of the dress will not be shorter than the natural break of the leg at the back of the knee. This requirement includes any type of slit or cut in the dress. Visitors over age ten may not wear miniskirts, halter tops, sleeveless shirts, tank tops, backless outfits, spandex pants or bodysuits or see-through clothing. With the exception of religious headgear, hats may not be worn during visits. Inmates are responsible for advising their visitors of the dress requirements in the Visiting Room, including not wearing clothing which is khaki in color at the FeI, and green in color at the FPC. Visits may be denied by the IDO and/or Operations Lieutenant for noncompliance after review of the situation. Excessively provocative attire is reason to deny and/or preclude visiting.

At the FCI, visitor purses, car keys, cell phones or other electronic devices, coats, jackets, and headgear must be secured in the lockers provided. Camp visitors will leave these items in their vehicles with car keys kept by the Camp Visiting Officer in the key retention box. During cold weather, heavy winter coats may be brought into the Visiting Room. However, these coats must be hung on a coat rack by the officer’s station.

Visitors will be authorized to bring the following items into the Visiting Room:

  1. Clear change purse (eight inches or less in height and width)
  2. Reasonable amount of currency (bills, no larger than five dollar bills) total each day per inmate visit. Coins are preferred in lieu of bills.
  3. Comb
  4. Prescription medication (to be maintained by the Visiting Officer)
  5. Jewelry
  6. Clear diaper bag containing up to six of each of the following items: baby food or formula (in a sealed, unopened container), empty plastic baby bottles, diapers and wipes
  7. The diaper bag will be supervised by the Visiting Room Officers at their station and accessed by the parent when needed.

A greeting/farewell kiss and embrace of visitors is permissible. All contact must be consistent with proper order and good taste. No physical body contact beyond initial and departing embrace will be tolerated and will result in the immediate termination of the visit. Only 20 visitors, inclusive of immediate family, friends or associates will be authorized on the approved visiting list. No more than 5 adult visitors in the Visiting Room at anyone time. Children under the age of 16 years will not be counted toward this total. There are no limitations on frequency of changes to the inmate’s visiting list.”

For more on these rules and other please click here

As you can see, there are many things to keep in mind when visiting a loved one staying at a prison camp. Although the process may seem tedious, it is a rewarding experience to see a family, friend or loved one and know that they are safe and well.