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The Reality of Prison Visitation – Updated



Prison Visitation Rules & Realities

The reality of prison visitation for family members can be the same reality that exists for inmates in prison – harsh and cold. Theoretically, prisons encourage visitation. It is stressed that visitation will help the inmate and the family members maintain and even strengthen their emotional ties during a very difficult period in their lives. However, there are times when family members are treated like inmates. We have received questions and comments about visitation almost every day since PrisonPath was launched in September 2012. The following are typical comments and requests for help.

Ms Glasper e-mailed on October 3, 2013:

“Why would I be denied of visitation if I never been arrested or on probation? I have been approved to visit my daughter father that’s in another prison in Florida.,How can I find out? WHO DO I CONTACT?” responded,

Hi Ms. Glasper,

“The warden at each facility has the final approval or disapproval authority for each visitation request. (See the Statewide Facility Directory for contact information). We recommend contacting the warden’s office regarding your application. If you do not receive a response, try the prison chaplain for help.”

Ms. M e-mailed on July 15, 2013:

“Thank-you for your reply. The information was very helpful. But, it did not answer my question. Why did the operator who spoke to me have to be so incredibly rude? Are they allowed to treat the general public that way? I have been doing quite a bit of research on Gowanda which has left me less than comfortable with the place. He told me , quote,”Just show up.” That does not agree with what I have found on line regarding visitation. When I get there Saturday will I be turned away?” responded,

Hi Michelle,

“We can only recommend that you follow the rules about visitation as set forth in the New York State prison guide which is online. Unfortunately, your experience was not unusual. There are correctional officers who treat family and friends who are visiting inmates as inmates. You can write a complaint to the warden, but it is very hard to change a mind set.”

Ms. T e-mailed on March 10, 2013:

“I think that some of the officers that run the visiting are some of the most rude and awful people on planet earth. I’ve never seen such heartless and disgusting people in all my days. I drive 18hrs from Richfield, MN to Cumberland, MD to see my husband and I can only visit for two days out of the week when I’m there and then they won’t give you enough time not caring that I’m so far away and it will be a while before I’m able to come back. One of the stupid women had the nerve to tell me that they where only required to give me an hour. Even though we request a special visit every time I’m coming, I still get kicked out of the visiting room just as fast as everyone else and there’s no exception and so I’m wondering why in the hell do we even bother to request the special visit if the officers working the visiting room just feel to hell with it. I’m thinking of contacting the commissioner and if there’s no help there, I will write the attorney general about the conduct of those people there.”

In order to understand what prison is like, you also need to know the profound effect of prison upon the family members including the reality of visitation.