Visiting A Friend Or Relative In Federal Prison

Make sure your visit will be a success by carefully following these steps.

Locate the inmate

Discover or confirm the whereabouts of the inmate you would like to visit.

Be Approved

Before you can visit, you must be placed on the inmate’s approved visiting list, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons has cleared you.

Whom can an inmate add to their visiting list?
Immediate Family:

  • Mother
  • Father
  • Step-parent(s)
  • Foster parent(s)
  • Brothers
  • Sisters
  • Spouse
  • Children

Relatives:

  • Grandparents
  • Uncles
  • Aunts
  • In-laws
  • Cousins

Other types of approved visitors:

  • No more than 10 friends/associates
  • Foreign officials
  • Members of religious groups including clergy
  • Members of civic groups
  • Employers (former or prospective)
  • Sponsors
  • Parole advisors
  • Attorneys

In certain circumstances such as when an inmate first enters prison or is transferred to a new prison, a visiting list might not exist yet. In this case, immediate family members who can be verified by the information contained in the inmate’s Pre-Sentence Report may be allowed to visit. However, if there is little or no information available about a person, visiting may be denied. You should always call the prison ahead of time to ensure your visit will be permitted.

Be Prepared

Review all visiting rules, regulations, and procedures before your visit.

Dress Code: Wear clothing that is appropriate for a large gathering of men, women, and young children. Wearing inappropriate clothing (such as provocative or revealing clothes) may result in your being denied visitation.

Visiting Duration: By law, an inmate gets at least four hours of visiting time per month, but usually, the prison can provide more. However, the Warden can restrict the length of visits or the number of people who can visit at once, to avoid overcrowding in the visiting room.

General Behavior: Because many people are usually visiting, it is important that visits are quiet, orderly, and dignified. The visiting room officer can require you to leave if either you or the inmate is not acting appropriately.

Physical Contact: In most cases, handshakes, hugs, and kisses (in good taste) are allowed at the beginning and end of a visit. Staff may limit contact for security reasons (to prevent people from trying to introduce contraband) and to keep the visiting area orderly. The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not permit conjugal visits.

Plan your trip

Find out when you can visit and get directions to the facility.

All institutions have visiting hours on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; and most have them at other times during the week. Weekends are the most popular time to visit, so prisons may choose to limit visits to either Saturday or Sunday and the day will vary for each inmate. Other factors that can affect the days and times you can visit include:

  • the prison location
  • the prison type
  • inmate visiting needs
  • availability of visiting space

The inmate you plan to visit should tell you what the visiting schedule is for that prison; however, if you have any questions, please contact that particular facility.

Unfortunately, there is no Government payment or reimbursement for transportation. Please arrange transportation to and from the facility accordingly. If you have any questions, please call the prison facility. Staff can help with directions, including how to get there by public transportation when available.

Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons: www.bop.gov

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