Remembering the lengthy sentence they completed, most felons realize the loneliness and separation they felt from their families and friends.
Felons looked forward to that contact from the outside world to remind them they weren’t alone and hadn’t been abandoned by the world.
Now that they are out of prison, many think of those precious visits. They often know someone, family or friend, or even someone they may have known while locked up who would want to have someone visit them.
They want to be able to extend that same kindness to others, to pass on the caring and compassion.
The question becomes, can a felon visit someone in prison?
This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can visit someone in prison.
- Criteria for Visiting Someone in Prison
- Criteria for Felons to Visit
- Factors in Visiting
- Supporting a Felon Visiting Someone in Prison
Criteria for Visiting Someone in Prison
When considering visiting someone in prison, there is a process to go through in order to be approved to visit an inmate.
The process for gaining approval to visit an inmate is different, not according to the state, but according to the individual facility where the inmate is incarcerated.
At the very least, potential visitors to an inmate must seek approval to be included on an inmate’s visitation list.
The requirements here start with felons’ full name, address, and phone number.
Then there is the part where information is requested regarding background information. Especially important for felons is that they will be asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime.
At this point, regardless of the facility, there are certain general reasons why anyone, regardless of whether they are felons or not, can be denied approval for visitation.
Among the reasons for denial of visitation rights are the following:
- If they have recently served time in a correctional facility
- If they are on probation
- If they are on bond, waiting for a court trial
- If they have an outstanding warrant
- If they are a victim of the inmate
- If they are considered a safety or security risk
Once this information has been provided to the facility, there is typically a one to six-week waiting period before approval is granted. The length of time for the approval depends on the facility, the depth of the background check, and the time of year.
After this process, the facility will notify the inmate not the applicant. So, it will be important to keep in touch with the inmate for the results.
Criteria for Felons to Visit
Now, for more specific reasons why felons may be denied visitation.
The facility will look at the felons’ criminal history. Those felons who have committed less serious of nonviolent crimes will more likely be approved.
There is no an exact list of those felonies, as it depends on the particular facility. Felons with more convictions or a longer criminal history will be examined more closely.
The length of time since the conviction is also important.
The longer it has been since the sentence was concluded, the better chance for approval.
There may be a specific time requirement for some facilities. For example, in the state of Washington, felons are required to wait at least two years since their sentence ended before being allowed to visit someone in prison.
Those felons who have charges currently pending against them will face longer odds of being approved.
Another factor considered is the relationship between felons and the inmate. If felons are members of the immediate family of the inmate, approval is more likely to happen.
There are situations where a facility bars all felons from visiting an inmate. However, if felons are immediate family members, an exception may be made.
An additional factor is the place of incarceration. Felons wanting to visit someone who is incarcerated at the same facility where they served time may be denied visitation.
Some facilities will consider the length of time since felons were released from that location.
Another factor is the behavior of felons when they were there and whether their visiting someone at this point would be considered disruptive to the staff.
Felons on probation likely will have a more difficult time being approved.
One of the basic reasons for this is that typically felons are not allowed to have contact with other felons while they are on probation.
If felons want to visit immediate family, permission can be granted while they are on probation with written permission from their probation officer.
In some states, such as Florida, facility regulations require felons must be off probation for at least two years before considering them for visitation.
Factors in Visiting
When applying to visit someone in prison, felons must remember the importance of being honest when completing any application for visitation. Dishonesty will result in a denial, which could make it impossible to correct and seek future approval.
This is where it is to the felons’ advantage to have completed all terms of their sentence, including probation.
Felons can make a stronger case for themselves if they can show their efforts at rehabilitation.
Having gone through a re-entry program would be helpful.
Of course, having a good work history since their release is important.
Having their record expunged would help present a stronger case for re-establishing an honest life.
Supporting a Felon in Visiting Someone in Prison
Families of felons can recall when their loved one was incarcerated and visiting them while they were in prison. What a difference that made for them.
Now, your loved one is trying to make that same compassionate attempt to remind another felon they haven’t been forgotten. Support them as they seek to establish a lifestyle where they care about more than just themselves.
Encourage them to visit their family or friends who are serving a lengthy sentence.
Reaching out to others in this way can keep them from returning to crime and once again being locked up.
So what do you think about this blog post about whether felons can visit someone in prison? Have you or someone you know visited someone in prison after a felony conviction? What was that experience like and how were they successful? Please tell us in the comments below.