The incarceration of a loved one can be quite emotionally draining. While most state laws in the US provide visitation rights to friends and family members of inmates, exceptions can arise depending on the nuances of that particular case.
For instance, the laws laid down by the Federal Bureau of Prisons mentions that each inmate is generally allotted 4 hours every month for visitations. However, most jails in Florida and New Orleans have instead resorted to paid video-calls between inmates and their loved ones, cutting down on or completely doing away with in-person visits.
Knowledge of the right channels to pursue can help you connect quickly with jailed loved ones. There are many websites that are useful for looking up an inmate’s detail and finding legal assistance for visitation rights. It, thus, becomes extremely important to be thorough with your state’s jail laws, the category under which the felony falls, and the kind of visitation rights you are looking for.
What are the Different Types of Visitations?
Contact visits is the most widely prevalent category of visitations across the United States. The visitor(s) can sits across a table from the inmate, and physical contact is restricted to greetings and farewells. Holding hands is strictly prohibited. Frequent violation of these rules can lead to suspension of visitation rights. These visits are usually limited to a short span of time.
Non-contact visitations separate the visitor(s) from the inmate via a glass partition, and communication takes place through a phone. These conversations are generally supervised by a prison guard. In the last couple years, however, paid video visitations, as mentioned earlier, are becoming more and more common.
Conjugal Visits: Are They a Possibility?
Conjugal visits are considered a positive solution to the mental burdens of an inmate as also an incentive for them to comply with prison norms in the hope of an early release. In the US, prisoners in federal custody are not entitled to conjugal visits. However, prisoners in state custody are governed by that particular state’s laws. Currently, only California, Connecticut, New York and Washington allow conjugal visits, with California being the only state to extend these rights to homosexual couples as well.
Who Can Visit an Inmate?
Visitors need prior approval from jail authorities before being allowed to visit. Prisoners, who are in the process of being transferred from one jail to another, or are yet to be processed into the system, may not be allowed visitations before an approved visitors’ list has been prepared.
Additionally, children, especially those not in the custody of the inmate, are generally not granted visitation permits. Religious visits by priests or clergymen are allowed, but also restricted in their scope. Unless the accused or the convicted inmate has been booked on grounds that hamper national security or has been deemed a threat to society, visits by lawyers are generally allowed and granted scope for confidentiality.
Will my Jailed Loved One Be Granted Visitation?
Only in certain cases like solitary confinement, or those convicted or accused of grand felonies are visitation rights completely eliminated. However, they are subject to limitations, strict rules and supervisions by prison authorities. Visitation rights can be temporarily suspended by the prison authorities on grounds like non-cooperation on the part of the inmate, violation of visitation rules by listed visitor(s), attempt at smuggling contraband, and other such cases, where legal preventive measures are deemed necessary. These can, however, be challenged in court if the inmate and his family feel that they are unjustified.
How to Fill Out the Visiting Application
The jail authorities will be running a background check on your profile and cross-verify the information you have put down. If any of them turn up erroneous, you can be denied visitation rights. You can also be denied on other grounds like if you have a prior conviction of your own, you are already on another inmate’s visitation list in the same prison, you are on probation or parole. You can appeal the decision in court within a certain time frame. Approved visits by minors, accompanied by an adult, require special application to be filled out.
Contact Prison Authorities Regarding Visitation Guidelines
Each prison has its own set of rules governing visits. Ideally, you should call the prison helpline and ask them the dress code, what you are required to bring, what items you are not allowed to enter the prison premises with, and what you can pass on to the inmate when you come to visit. Visitors are required to produce a proof of identity at the time of arrival, so ask them beforehand which identification proofs they accept as valid.
The criminal justice system in the US can become quite bureaucratic and difficult to understand for the layman to approach and understand. A legal counsel is deemed a necessity in such cases. A qualified lawyer can not only help you get in touch with your loved ones on the other side of the bars, but also expedite their release. Certain cases become eligible for pro bono, which means that the case is worked on by the legal team free of charge.