Inmate Visitation Rules and Regulations

iEditorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm, is not licensed to practice law, and is not equivalent to the services of a licensed lawyer. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help, and does not offer legal services. Third party news articles mentioned on our website do not necessarily reflect the views of the company, or the current services that we offer.

All You Need To Know About Inmate Visitation

Planning a visit to a loved one behind bars can be even more soul-wrenching and arduous if you don’t know where to start.

Regardless of whether it’s your friend, family member, or prison pen pal, writing a letter usually isn’t enough. It’s physical contact that can alleviate difficult days at least a little bit.

Visiting an inmate isn’t a simple endeavor. A bunch of formalities and regulations await during this procedure. Only if you fulfill all the requirements, inmate visitation procedures can go smoothly.

What Kinds of Visits Do Prisons Offer?

Most prisons propose three main visitation types—you can check them in the following table:

Type of VisitWhat Happens

Closed (or Non-Contact) Visit

  • A physical barrier separates you from the inmate—usually a glass panel
  • There are phones on each side of the panel, and you use them to communicate
  • This type of visit is the only option if there’s a certain safety risk or a threat due to the inmate’s behavior

Open (or Contact) Visit

  • There are no barriers between you and the inmate, but the guards supervise the visitation
  • A brief physical contact such as a hug, kiss, or touch is usually permitted

Video Visitation

  • It’s usually practiced when there are no conditions for a live visit
  • You get to make a video call to your incarcerated loved one
  • It works similar as with any other video call service, for example, Skype or Viber

Conjugal Visit

  • The inmate is allowed to spend a few hours alone with their spouse
  • Allowed only in California, Connecticut, Washington, Mississippi, New York, and New Mexico

What’s an Inmate Visiting List?

Every prisoner who has no active restrictions has the right to compile a list of persons who can visit them. They can usually choose up to ten people, depending on the type of prison and other circumstances.

When compiling such a list, the inmate must provide prison authorities with accurate information about these persons—usually their full names and contact details.

Not everyone can be added to the visitation list. Allowed and prohibited visitor categories as per most prisons’ rules are listed in the table:

Allowed VisitorsProhibited visitors
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Children
  • Spouses
  • Step-parents
  • Step-siblings
  • Close relatives
  • Chosen friends
  • Foreign officials
  • Attorneys and advisors
  • Religion-related visitors, such as pastors, priests, etc.
  • Ex-inmates
  • Victims of the inmate
  • People that aren’t on the inmate’s list
  • Children without parental supervision
  • People who pose any kind of security risks

Once the inmate chooses you as an approved contact, you will get an inmate visitation form you need to complete and submit. The prison authorities use the information provided to do a background check on you and assess if they should approve or deny your request.

How To Book an Inmate Visiting Appointment

Once you decide to visit an inmate, you need to submit your visitation request at least a day or two before the desired visit date or even earlier in some cases. This is the first and the most important step of the way—if you miss it, no visits will be possible.

Here’s a standard procedure for booking a visitation appointment:

  1. Go to the official website of the institution where the inmate is being held
  2. Search for inmate visitation information and available contact methods—email address, phone number, or physical address
  3. Get in touch with prison authorities and confirm your details so they can track you on the inmate’s visiting list
  4. Book an appointment for the desired date

Do I Need To Bring Any Documents to the Facility?

Yes—every visitor needs to have a valid ID or any other document with a photo, such as a driver’s license or a passport. If you come with children, you need to provide a family passport, a birth certificate, or some other photo ID.

Some departments might require additional documents. Make sure to ask them if you should bring anything else during the phone call or email correspondence.

What Does the Inmate Visitation Schedule Depend On?

Most institutions allow visits on weekends and holidays, but you can also book a visit on weekdays. The schedule may depend on:

  • The visiting space capacity
  • The type of prison and its regulations
  • The inmate’s willingness to receive visitors

What Are the Rules and Regulations Regarding Inmate Visits?

Each visitor needs to pass several mandatory security checks when they enter the facility. If you refuse to do this, the guards and prison staff have the right to refuse access.

The items you can bring into the facility are few and include only the essentials. Pones, wallets, cigarettes, alcohol, and most other items are strictly forbidden. You can bring a single car key and a couple of baby necessities in case you are coming with a child.

According to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) dress code guide, the clothes you wear must be respectful of the institution—swimsuits, provocative clothing, sleeveless shirts, and other revealing garments aren’t permitted.

The meetings need to be quiet and without incidents. In cases when physical contact is possible, it should be moderate, as too much fidgeting and suspicious moves might bring the visit to an end much earlier than expected.

Depending on the institution, you will probably be able to book up to four visits per month, but this number might increase with time due to good conduct.

Find Out Where Your Incarcerated Friend is Located With DoNotPay

Before you decide to arrange a visitation with an inmate or get in touch with them in any other way, you should find out their precise location. You may know in which facility they are, but their inmate ID number and the exact unit are also crucial if you want to reach them.

DoNotPay’s inmate locator includes prisoners from all types of correctional facilities and saves you from never-ending browsing by providing the quickest results.

Follow these steps to track down an inmate with our app:

  1. Log in to DoNotPay
  2. Go to Connect With an Inmate and choose Locate Someone
  3. Type the full name of the prisoner and the state where they should be serving their sentence

Upon completing these steps, you will get the accurate location of the inmate. This feature can also come in handy if you want to look for the status of any other convict.

Not Able To Go and See Your Loved One? DoNotPay Helps You Mail Them a Special Letter

If you know where your incarcerated friend or family member serves their sentence, but you are unable to visit them, you can always write to them. The good news is that you don’t need to address it manually anymore since DoNotPay has a great way of making this easier for you.

Our app has developed an excellent feature that lets you compose a digital letter for the prisoner, so they can read your words of comfort and encouragement whenever they miss you. It’s also a great way to pass personal information relatively quickly.

To get in touch with an inmate, follow these instructions:

  1. Log in to DoNotPay in your
  2. Select the Connect With an Inmate option
  3. Select Send a Personalized Letter
  4. Follow the instructions of the chatbot and confirm the necessary information—inmate’s name, last name, and ID number
  5. Write a message and customize it to your liking

DoNotPay turns your electronic message into a physical one by printing it out. We make sure it reaches the chosen inmate.

Once the inmate gets your letter, they can reply if you choose Allow Replies while submitting your message. This is what happens next:

  1. The prisoner sends an actual letter to a designated address
  2. DoNotPay digitizes it
  3. You receive a digital copy of the inmate’s message in your Virtual Mailbox

Virtual Mailbox enables you to read all incoming replies, and it can be checked anytime in our app.

Stay Tuned for More Helpful Features DoNotPay Has for You

If our advice regarding prison protocols and visitation procedures was useful, you should check out other inmate-related tips and tricks we have in store! If you want to know what a prison marriage ceremony looks like or how you can marry an inmate in a county jail, you can find the answers in our articles from this series.

Feel free to explore various possibilities for sending inmate packages to prisoners in Alabama, Kentucky, Nevada, Wisconsin, or New York.

DoNotPay’s learning center offers a wide spectrum of solutions for tiresome and nerve-wracking procedures and issues we face every day, such as parking tickets, spam texts, or unsolicited emails.

You can access DoNotPay from your , and here’s a full list of issues we can help you with:

Want your issue solved now?