What is Visitation Like in Federal Prison?

What is Visitation Like in Federal Prison?
By Richard McDonald

Visitation in federal prison has changed immensely since 2020. Prison officials had stopped visitation because of COVID-19. They now allow visitation but still have limits on it.

As of now, visiting times are 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 pm. Depending on your prison, there may be a shuttle bus. The shuttle bus will take you from the parking lot to the visitation area. In general, prison buses will pick up twice an hour. The last shuttle to visitation is usually 90 minutes before the end of visiting hours.

Are specific rules for visitation in a federal prison?

Yes. Rules were set forth for the transportation and safety of all visitors to each federal prison camp. The A.M. buses will pick up at the visitor’s center early in the morning. Visitors cannot leave between bus departures (except for in an emergency).

Prior to boarding the bus, BOP Staff will screen all passengers for symptoms of COVID-19. They use temperature checks. If any member of a party is exhibiting symptoms or has a temperature of 100 degrees or more, the entire party will be refused access.

You must wear a mask during your visit. In addition, federal prison facilities will not provide masks for those who attempt to board the bus without one. 

Image courtesy of ToscaWhi on Getty Images via iStock.

Are there COVID-19 precautions in place during the visit?

Yes. COVID-19 has caused significant changes to visitation in federal prison. In most prisons, it will be a non-contact visit. There will be no physical contact of any kind. This includes hugs at the beginning or end of a visit. A Plexiglas barrier sits between incarcerated people and visitors. Both must wear face coverings at all times. 

Everyone must wash their hands before and after the visit. Food and beverages are not allowed. This used to be a big treat for prisoners to eat from the vending machines in visitation. Visitors also cannot bring gifts or care packages. Incarcerated people who are in quarantine or isolation can’t participate in social visiting.

Can anyone visit you in prison? 

No. Incarcerated people have social visitation in prison with immediate family and friends. BOP rules generally require visitors to have known the person prior to incarceration. Individuals not deemed a threat to the institution’s “good order and security” may visit you.

However, all visitors must be on your “approved visitors” list. They have to clear a background check. No one can visit until the facility clears them. Visitors cannot board the bus without clearance. Most importantly, surprise visits are prohibited from people not on your list.

The Takeaway:

You can receive visitors in a federal prison. But only those on your approved list will be able to visit. Visitation in federal prison has rules that are very strict.

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