When a loved one goes to prison, you should try to stay in touch. Prison staff know that visits and phone calls help incarcerated people stay out of trouble. But these things are not rights; they are privileges. Staff can block prison family visits and phone calls on certain occasions and for certain reasons.
Do incarcerated people have a right to visitors and phone calls?
No, people in prison do not have a right to family visits and phone calls. Visits and phone calls are privileges. This means that incarcerated people can lose access to them when they’re in trouble. If the prison moves your loved one to administrative segregation, you might not be able to visit.
There are other issues that may stop you from talking to loved ones in prison. If the prison goes into lockdown, incarcerated people may not get phone calls until the lockdown ends. This is to protect both prisoners and staff. Prisons may also stop visits during a lockdown. They may not have a chance to tell loved ones before you get there.
Of course, prison staff members know that visits and phone calls help people in prison. This keeps prisons safe and helps incarcerated people adjust to life in prison. If you think staff is blocking your loved one from talking to you without cause, there are steps you can take to address the problem.
Can staff block prison family visits or phone calls for any reason?
No, staff cannot block family visits or phone calls for any reason. Prison officials should only stop visits and calls to protect incarcerated individuals or as punishment for breaking the rules. They understand that people in prison value these privileges and will lash out if they can’t talk to family.
Most states say that incarcerated people can have two in-person visits per week. If prison officials block these visits, they have to give them a reason. But staff can also turn visitors away before they see an incarcerated person It’s important to follow the rules of the prison to make sure they let you in to see your loved one.
Prison staff might not let you in to see your loved one if you don’t follow the dress code. If a person in prison doesn’t put you on the list, staff will not let you see them. The warden may also decide that too many people are visiting and shorten your visit.
Do video calls count as in-person visits?
In some states, video calls count as in-person visits. People in prison have appealed the use of video calls. They argue that these shouldn’t replace in-person prison family visits. Most judges agree that state laws about in-person visits do not include video calls. You should look up the guidelines for the prison where your loved one lives for more about video calls.
Prison staff can block family visits and phone calls. They shouldn’t do this without a reason. It’s also important that you follow the rules of the prison. If you don’t, staff may not let you in to see your loved one.