Almost 2.4 million Americans are incarcerated in the United States. That’s nearly seven percent of the world’s prison population.

If you’ve got a loved one behind bars, it’s important to stay in touch. Yet, it’s also important to understand what you’re getting into when it comes to prison culture. Visitation is a big part of that.

Read on to learn how you can make the inmate visitation process easier.

Schedule Your Time

If you are scheduling a visit with an inmate, you will need to contact the jail or prison directly to find out what the process is. Most institutions provide websites to find information on how to schedule a visit.

You will likely need to create an account and then schedule the visit at least 24 hours in advance. Some institutions require that you schedule your visit online, while others require that you call to schedule. You will also need to provide identification, such as a driver’s license when visiting an inmate.

What to Bring

Be sure to check the visitation rules and dress code for the facility ahead of time. You don’t want to be turned away at the door for something as easily avoidable.

Remember to bring your ID and any other required items listed by the facility. It is important to avoid bringing in any prohibited items, such as food, drink, drugs, weapons, or anything else that could be considered contraband.

What to Expect

When you arrive at the prison, you will go through a prison security screening, which may include a metal detector and a search of your belongings. Once cleared for the visit, be respectful of the prison staff and follow all their instructions.

Be prepared to have your belongings inspected upon arrival. Once cleared to enter, take a deep breath and relax.

Making the Most of Your Visit

During the visit, be aware of the time limit and try to make the most of your time together. Once you’re seated, take the time to catch up and really listen to what your loved one has to say. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, but also prepare to answer them as well.

Remember that all conversations are probably monitored, so avoid talking about anything controversial or illegal. Finally, try to make the most of your time and end on a positive note.

Inmate Visitation Tips for First-Timers

If you are planning on inmate visitation in prison, there are a few things you should do in order to prepare. Check the prison’s visiting hours and requirements well in advance. Depending on the prison, you may need to fill out paperwork and have your ID and/or fingerprinting done.

You will also likely be searched before being allowed to enter the visiting area. Follow the prison’s guidelines and dress code to avoid any delays or problems. Most importantly, be respectful of the prison staff and other visitors while you are there.

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