Visiting your loved one in county jail can be a stressful and emotionally trying experience. It’s important to plan ahead so that you have a clear idea of what to expect during the visit. This will help to keep your nerves calm and have a successful visit.
Have the most up to date information on hand
The best way to get up to date and accurate information regarding visitation is to contact the sheriff’s office in the county where your loved is incarcerated. Local sheriffs departments operate most jails in the US, so they’ll likely have the most recent information and rules of the jail. Many jails also have easy to navigate websites which makes it easy to publically access the vital information about things like visitation and other regulations.
Schedule your visit ahead of time
Before making arrangements to visit your loved one, you need to check the inmate visitation schedule. The schedule is usually arranged by the last name, inmate number or where they’re housed within the facility. Inmates typically get at least one social visit per week, and sometimes they may be responsible for setting up the session in advance themselves.
Your loved one can schedule a visitation from a kiosk within their cell block or by submitting a form to the jail administration. Make sure your loved one has requested and been approved for your visit at least 24 hours ahead of your planned visit to be sure.
Keep in mind that the jail limits inmates to a certain number of visits per week and usually no more than one visit per day so you may want to coordinate a schedule with other potential visitors. Visitation is generally done during the evenings and on the weekend. Inmates segregated for health reasons, security concerns or rule violations may have significantly reduced visitation opportunities.
While visits are generally limited to just one adult per session, many jails allow you to bring a child as well. Just make sure the child is well behaved and mature enough to handle the adult atmosphere of a jail visit.
Arrive at least 15 minutes early for the visit
Most county jails are overcrowded, so it’s likely that you’ll experience extended wait lines for visitations.
Be smart about what you bring with you
Make sure you have a valid state ID when you check in. Also, keep in mind that many local jails don’t allow cell phones the building. The safest thing to do is to leave your technology at home or in the car. Some prisons have lockers for you to store your stuff in, but they might cost money so bring coins if you plan to use one.
Security is tight for all visitors entering the jail. Expect to pass through a metal detector and be searched by armed guards. Be cautious of wearing jewelry, underwire bras or body piercings. Also carefully check what you are carrying with you into the jail.
Make sure you don’t have any knives, razors, or anything that could be used a weapon. If you have a handbag, check the contents of the bag ahead of time or leave it in the car to be sage. Do not try to bring things for your loved without asking the jail for permission ahead of time.
Prepare yourself mentally
You can prepare as much as possible, but remember to stay calm during the visit and not let the stress of the surrounding situation get to you.
What to Expect When a Visiting Loved One in County Jail
Visiting a loved one in jail can be a stressful event; however, there are things you can do to prepare for the visit (link here to the previous article) to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. It’s important to understand how the visitation process works and what you might encounter during the visit, to make it a seamless experience.
We want you to be prepared, so we’ve outlined four things to keep in mind before visiting your loved one in the county jail.