When a friend or relative is in prison, you may want to see them in person. It’s not impossible, or even terribly difficult, to do so. But only certain people can visit. And the chance to visit an incarcerated person in federal prison requires preparation.
Which family members can visit a person in federal prison?
In most cases, family members can visit loved ones in prison. This is not limited to immediate or “blood” relatives either. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) includes stepfamily members, foster relatives and others as “family members” that can visit as well.
The official list of approved family members from the BOP includes the following:
- Foster parents
If you don’t fall into any of these categories, you may still be able to visit. But you will have to qualify under another category instead of “family member.”
Which non-family members can visit a person in prison?
The BOP also allows non-family to visit people in prison as well. These visitors can include anyone from friends to government or church representatives.
Typically, the BOP does not limit visitors who can meet with prisoners for more formal reasons. Examples of this might include lawyers or employers. But prisons will have limits for friends and other non-family members.
Friends and other non-family members must be on a list that is limited to 10 possible visitors at any given time. People in prison can add people to or remove people from that list at any time. But that process may take time as well.
The BOP’s list of non-family members that can visit include the following:
- No more than 10 friends or associates
- Foreign officials
- Members of religious groups
- Members of civic groups
- Former and prospective employers
- Parole advisors
How can you be approved for a visit?
Before you can visit your loved one in prison, the BOP must approve of your visit first. That’s true whether you’re a family member, a friend, an attorney, or anyone else. Fortunately, that approval process is fairly simple. We break it down into five steps:
- The prisoner receives a Visitor Information Form when they arrive at a new facility.
- After filling out the form, the prisoner sends a copy to each potential visitor by mail.
- The potential visitor fills out their portion of the form and returns it to the prisoner.
- The BOP may request more information on the potential visitor.
- The BOP makes a decision and notifies the prisoner.
Once you complete this process and get approved, you can plan your visit. To make sure it goes smoothly, you’ll want to schedule the visit with the facility. You’ll also want to review guidance on what to wear and how to behave.
Most people can visit their loved ones in prison. Depending on if you’re a family member or not, certain rules will apply. To make sure your visit goes smoothly, you should get approved, schedule and prepare for your visit ahead of time.