What Happens When You Self-Surrender to Prison?

What Happens When You Self-Surrender to Prison?
By Richard McDonald

When you self-surrender to a federal prison, it means that you are not forcibly taken to prison. Instead, you are told when and where to appear at prison to begin your sentence. 

What time should you arrive at the prison?

It is ideal to arrive at the prison early in the morning so that your intake process is smooth and efficient. Arriving later in the day may cause your intake to take much longer than expected, though there is no guarantee that you will be processed quickly.

What happens when you arrive at the prison facility to self-surrender?

Once you arrive at the gate, the officers take custody of you. Due to COVID-19, the prison will immediately issue you a mask before escorting you to the prison camp. Receiving and Discharge (or R and D) will be contacted, and they will begin processing you. Newly surrendered people are currently being quarantined for 14 days. Until they are released from quarantine, everyone will be housed in a separate unit.

What can you take with you when you self-surrender to prison? 

As soon as you surrender, you will be turning in all of your personal effects. Anything that is unauthorized, including unauthorized medications, will be taken from you. Your clothing and any other unauthorized items will be taken. 

But you are able to bring a few things:

  • Some form of identification. This can include your passport or your driver’s licence. These will be taken and placed in your central file and returned to you upon release.
  • Two pairs of eyeglasses with two soft-covered cases. No contacts or transition glasses are allowed. 
  • One plain wedding ring valued under $100. No stones or raised surfaces will be permitted. 
  • One plain religious medallion with no stones or raised surfaces valued at under $100.
  • One softcover prayer book or other religious text. 
  • Medical and orthopedic devices. This includes prescription medications. Prescription medications must be surrendered with letters from your appropriate physicians.

Image courtesy of FreshSplash via Getty Images on iStock.

Can you bring money with you when you self-surrender to prison? 

You are able to bring money with you when you self-surrender to prison. But you should check the specific guidelines of your facility before arriving. Due to Covid-19, it is possible that your facility is not accepting cash as part of the intake process.

In the event that your facility is not able to accept cash, you can have your money added to your commissary account. Is is important to remember that you might not be in the system for a few hours, so if your family tries to add money to your account immediately, it may bounce back. 

Will you be searched when you self-surrender to prison? 

You will be subject to a cavity search. You will have to get undressed in front of the officers. The process is very quick and part of protocol.

What happens to the rest of your personal effects? 

Your clothing can be thrown away or mailed (via United States Postal Service) to your release residence. Sometimes, your loved one is able to pick up your personal effects. You should check with your unit team whether you’re allowed to bring other items. If so, have your family mail them to the institution. 

The Takeaway:

During a self-surrender to prison, you will be searched. You are only able to bring a few specific items with you when you self-surrender. The rest of your personal effects can either be picked up or mailed to your family. 

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