Preparing for a Prison Visit
by Maya Borja McCroskey
I can not stress enough how emotional visiting a loved on in prison is, and I highly suggest clearing your schedule for the day. My now husband has been incarcerated for five years and I still try not to plan things on visit days.
A must is to call and ask about the dress code. Even if you think you have on exactly what they require bring something extra for yourself as well as everyone with you. When my husband was in Lawrencville Correctional Center they would not allow anyone to wear denim of any kind, not even a little piece on your shoes. Of course this was no where to be found on the internet. Luckily I had some money on me and was able to find a store with clothes that fit me and were acceptable. Even when I didn't need the extra clothes they came in handy for other visitors that were being turned away. Children are no exception. At times you would think they would prefer one thing, like leggings under a skirt. However, because of a rule like no leggings or tights, they prefer something else, like bare legs all together.
Quarters and a clear make up bag are about to become your best friend. Not only is having a visit a wonderful treat because your loved one gets to see you, but they get to eat from vending machines. They will probably also miss a meal depending on when you come and how long you are allowed to stay. Knowing their schedule including count time is a good way to prepare as well. So if you just don't have the money they don't have to miss a meal. You also do not want to show up right at count time. You will find yourself waiting longer than usual if you do.
Learn your prison. Many places have bus days for people who do not have transportation to visit their loved ones. (I have never used this service so I don't know anything about it, though I would be more than happy to look into it for anyone) These are very busey days and it is likely that if your prison usually gives you more than the required time, they may not that day. Some prisons split visits so that depending on the inmate number and whether the date is even or odd dictates what day you may go; another reason to call.
You are going to be searched in great detail. I have been places that even make sure you are wearing "full coverage underwear". You can not bring anything in with you except the key that opens your car and your I.D. DO NOT FORGET YOUR I.D.!!!!!!!! and if it is your first time bringing your child you will most likely need their Birth Certificate. If you want to bring the child of someone else their will be a specific form that needs to be signed by their parent and notarized, and again you will need their Birth Certificate. When your loved one comes in they usually allow you to hug and kiss. Some places will even let you hold hands. There will be one side he or she will have to sit on and you will have to sit opposite depending on the definition of your relationship. Often they have activites to occupy children but not all do.
A lot of prisons are very far away so you want to take into account all of your normal road trip rules. This can be one way to get excited with new music mixes, snacks and finding the cheapest gas along the way. I have learned because I like to go early, to get enough sleep. Do not speed. If you go to visit often your probability of getting a ticket naturally goes up simply from being behind the wheel more.
The first few times you go you may want to write out a list and your directions. Don't forget it is okay to be both excited and sad. As long as they know they are loved that's what really counts!