Visitation is a staple of most prisons, helping inmates maintain relationships that are vital to their rehabilitation, such as immediate family members and pastors. It’s also important to remember, however, that visitation isn’t a right for every prisoner. Rights can be removed in accordance with behavior, but if an inmate is eligible for visitation he or she can follow the following processes to receive visitation.

Visitation is usually granted automatically to all immediate family members. An eligible detainee is interviewed to collect a list of immediate family members and they’re given visitation permissions. These relationships are seen as the most essential to the mental health and rehabilitation of inmates, because they’re the strongest bonds most form with other people. These bonds are encouraged through visitation, phone calls, and letter writing, but because visitation is the only contact inmates have with the outside world family members are usually allowed visitation indiscriminately.

In addition to visitations with family members, inmates are also usually allowed to make a list for Significant Relationship Visitation. Relationships like significant others, long-time friends, pastors, mentors, and extended family members can be considered for this list which grants visitation to these people. If added by an inmate through filling out a Significant Visitor Application for Visitation Privileges form, visitors will be reviewed by a Warden for final approval. Once a Warden has approved or disapproved an application to add a Significant Relationship Visitor, the inmate is responsible for notifying the visitor of the decision. It is important for visitors to note that supporting documentations that support the relationship may be required by a Warden to make a final decision.

If you’re a seeking visitation with an inmate, you must first be added by the inmate him or herself. The application process happens through the inmate according to processes within the prison facility. Inmates can make requests through the prison counselor, either right after being booked and processed into the facility or in May and November. Changes to the visitation list can be a slow process, so choosing Significant Relationship Visitors is a long-term commitment on behalf of the inmate.

In the case of many inmates, friends, relatives, and immediate family members may be offenders themselves, and may wonder if they’re eligible to visit a prison to see a family member or loved one. In this case, potential visitors are subject to extra review by the Counselor or Warden, because in addition to the standard procedure for Significant Relationship Visitors, ex-offenders must have a clean record for at least the past one year. As long as there are no recent altercations with the law, ex-offenders are usually permitted to be added to a visitation list.

If you’re seeking to visit an inmate only one time, without being added to a list which keeps track of your address history and criminal record, offenders can request what’s known as a “special visit” outside regular visitation lists. These visits are reviewed on an individual basis and are subject to the decision of a Warden, and special visit notices must be made at least 48 hours before the visit is to take place. Taken into consideration in this decision is the inmate’s recent conduct history, as well as special needs like protective custody arrangements that must happen outside normal visitation hours.

So, knowing who can make visits and receive visits, it might also be helpful to understand visitation hours and time restraints. First of all, it can be relieving to know that during normal visitation days there are usually no limits on the length of visitation. Families can spend many hours together, and this is encouraged for the sake of maintaining strong bonds outside prison. Visitations are normally performed on Saturday, Sunday, and on holidays, with visitation periods spanning at least a six hour period. Because some visitation centers are smaller than others, some facilities split visitation periods alphabetically, with A-K occupying the morning and L-Z occupying the afternoon hours.

Once a visitor has been added by an inmate to his or her visitation list, or a special visit has been approved by proper authorities, visitation is a relatively easy and common sense procedure. Parking is indicated on the prison grounds, dress code is sensible without any provocative images or lewd language, and contraband is prohibited in visitation areas.