When you have a friend or loved one in prison, you naturally want to visit them to offer support. If you have been incarcerated previously, you understand what that person is going through, so you want to be there for them. After all, the best way to help someone in a time like this is to offer comfort and support.
But what if you have a criminal record of your own? Would you be able to visit that person if you’ve been incarcerated before? Can a felon visit someone in prison?
Before we answer this vital question – it’s one that is commonly asked!- it’s important to know that every facility sets its own rules, guidelines, and regulations when deciding who can visit someone in prison. They look at several different factors when deciding who can visit a person in prison.
Now, let’s discuss the key factors that go into deciding who can visit a convicted felon in prison.
Ways To Contact Someone In Prison
Now, before you start worrying about whether you can visit someone in prison, it’s important to realize that face-to-face contact isn’t the only way to show your support for somebody who is behind bars.
There are a few other ways to contact someone in prison such as:
- In person
- On the phone
- Video visitation
In case you’re wondering, phone calls directly to the prison are not allowed. You have to wait for the person in prison to contact you. Prisoners can either make a pre-paid phone call, or they can make it a collect call (one in which you pay for the ultimate charges).
Felon or not, it can be difficult to visit someone in prison since every facility has their own visitation policies. Being a felon makes it all the harder. There are other ways to contact a felon outside of visiting them, although visiting someone is definitely the preferred method of contact for most people.
Why You Might Visit Someone In Prison
It’s important for the prisoner to have visitations with close family members and friends. Having communication and support from loved ones can mean the world to somebody who is going through a difficult period of incarceration.
Prisoners who stay in contact with their family and friends have a lower recidivism, compared to someone who does not. They are less likely to repeat the same crime in the future or to participate in other crimes or acts of wrongdoing that might get them back behind bars once more.
That’s why most prisons allow visitation at some scale or to some extent. While not all prisons allow people who were convicted of past felonies to visit, most allow outsiders to visit at least from time to time.
The Visiting Application
Not all facilities will require the visitor to fill out an application, but most will. When filling out the application, it’s important to fill it out truthfully. You don’t gain anything by lying, and instead, it can hold up the visitation process. Worse, if your lying is severe enough – and trust us, they will find out! – it can hamper you from being able to visit at all. Be honest!
If an application is denied, it could be one of these reasons:
- The visitor is a convicted felon
- The visitor has outstanding warrants
- False information on the application
- The visitor is on parole or probation
Usually, the facility will not let the visitor know if their application was approved or denied. This can be frustrating, but unfortunately, that tends to be the case. Prisons receive a high volume of visit applications and it can be difficult for them to approve all visitors and let them know in a timely fashion.
If you contact the authorities responsible for handling visitations, however, you may be able to obtain the status of your application – even if you aren’t told why your application was denied, it can still be helpful so you can make your plans accordingly.
Before Your Visit
Before a felon visits someone in prison, they will have to get in contact with the prisoner. Most facilities require the prisoner to put the person wanting to visit on a visitors list. This can take some time, so don’t expect to be able to visit a friend or family member in prison the day your application is approved. Be patient!
Make sure the prisoner knows the information of the person who wants to visit. There are some facilities who request the prisoner to provide the visitor’s name, address, and phone number to be placed on the list.
Factors Considered For Visitations
Felons visiting someone in prison is a complicated situation, and there are a lot of important factors that are considered.
Every facility creates their own visitation policies, and each application is reviewed in detail. However, applications by felons are carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the visit is in the best interest for the prisoner. They are reviewed even more thoroughly than they would be if you were not a felon and applying to visit a prison.
After all, prison authorities need to cover all their bases.
Having a job or your record expunged may help your application to get approved.
While the case is being reviewed there are many factors to consider when it comes to felons. You will want to think carefully about the information you include on your application to make sure it is as thorough and detailed as possible. Some of the most important information that you will be expected to write on your application includes:
- Place of incarceration
There are several facilities that take place of incarceration into consideration. If the felon wishes to visit the place they were previously incarcerated, their application may get denied. It’s important when looking over the application that they know the felon will not cause any disruptions in the facility.
- Relationship to the prisoner
If the felon is the prisoners immediate family, then their application will more than likely get accepted.
- Criminal history of the felon visiting
Criminal history of the felon visiting will be taken into consideration. If their criminal history is less serious, then their application has more of a chance in getting approved.
- The amount of time that has passed since convicted
Felons who send in a visitation application with charges pending will more than likely get denied. The more time that passes after the felon was convicted, means that they have more of a chance of getting their application approved.
- Potential probation restrictions
It’s not out of the ordinary for felons to have restrictions placed on their release, restricting them from seeing other felons. It’s common for most facilities to have the felon submit a written letter from their parole officer or written permission from their parole. Keep in mind that any parole or probation restrictions that might be in place will make it all the more difficult for you to visit someone in prison.
If there’s an application from a felon with a more serious or violent crime, more than likely it will get denied for the safety of the prisoner and facility.
Getting an application approved can be difficult, but that’s just half the battle. Another thing that needs to be planned out is the dress code.
If the person visiting is not appropriately dressed, the staff at the facility can reject your visit.
Every facility is different but the dress code policy includes:
- No provocative clothing
- No short dresses or skirts
- No tight clothing
- No jewelry
- Clothing should not be the same as the inmates
- No uniforms of any kind
- No flip-flops or sandals
- No halter or tube tops
All visitors must be searched and all belongings have to be checked-in upon entering the facility. The visitor will receive their belongings before they leave. Don’t cause a fuss when you’re visiting the prison because you think what you’re wearing or carrying with you should be allowed. The rules are the rules – and making a scene isn’t going to get you into the prison any time soon.
Each visit is closely monitored and there is a time limit. The time limit is strict and must be followed.
Why Regulations Are Important
There are a lot of regulations and it may seem like a lot to remember, but they are intact for the safety of the prisoner and those in the facility. While it can be frustrating – especially if the felony you committed is ancient history and something that is far back in your past – know that these rules are in place to keep everybody (including you) safe.
It’s definitely possible for a felon to visit someone in prison. There are a lot of rules and regulations to visit someone in prison, but it’s worth it. Do your best to be honest and sincere in your application.
A person in prison could use all the support they could possibly get. Since you’ve been in their shoes before, you, as a felon, may be able to provide the support that the prisoner needs since they were once in their position.