Prison Visitation: #EveryMinuteMattersJan 7, 2017 Danielle Steele Williams 0 Prison Life prison, prison visit
In the article, Our First Prison Visit, I mentioned the process visitors must go through when visiting a loved one during prison visitation. Yes, I do understand that it’s necessary for the prison system to screen visitors and have certain policies and procedures in place to keep prisoners and visitors safe and contraband out. However, I have witnessed too many guards abusing their authority too many times, family members are subjected to overly rude guards that have no empathy for your situation. Like the Mr. stated in Rehabilitation, prisons aren’t hiring employees that genuinely care about the rehabilitation of prisoners. It seems as if all regard for family is dismissed when some, not all, but too many guards walk through the prison doors as if they don’t have a family of their own.
If you’re not given a hard time for the day, count your blessings because I guarantee someone is catching it. I truly believe the visitation process is put in place to keep families separated. I’ve heard so many family member of inmates say “I’m not coming back” or “I have to get my mind right just to come to visit”. That’s just how much of a headache it can be from getting to the waiting area to the visitation room. Yes, there is a dress code and rules to follow. I get it, there has to be. But a lot of times guards knit pick to prolong the process or are just nasty to you for no reason. I’ve seen family members visits be denied after driving hours or flying, taking off work which all costs them money. If something should happen where the unit is placed on lockdown and your loved one is in the clear and has nothing to do with what caused the lock down, there is a chance you will not be able to see him. But guess what, should they go on lock down, they can’t call and let you know so that would just be a wasted trip.
Family members often don’t complain about what goes on out of fear of retaliation against their loved one by guards. Or, out of fear that they will give you such a hard time at your next visitation. The last visit I had almost ruined my Christmas. We were so excited to be spending Christmas Eve with the Mr. since we haven’t spent the holidays together since he’s been incarcerated. Me, my dad, and the kids decided to make it a day trip. We knew we would be on the road for about 9-10 hours that day. Our plan was to be there when the doors opened at 8 and leave at 3. Good plan, right?!! Well, we didn’t leave on time, you know how it goes. So, we got there during….COUNT TIME!!! NOOOO!!!!…This is the time where all inmates are counted nationally and the prison is locked down. Sometime that can take up to two hours! Visitation time that you and your loved one do not get to make up. But, that was on us.
So now, we’ve lost about two hours of time plus we have to get processed, and there will be little food in the vending machines on Christmas Eve, with such a large group of visitors. Of course, your walk to the back may be even longer depending on what side of the bed the guard woke up on. And wouldn’t you know it! Our guard didn’t even wake up on the wrong side of the bed. I think he must have slept on the damn flo! Let the games begin! My dad, my son and myself made it through with no trouble, but my daughter couldn’t go back because of her short sleeve shirt. Well, normally we have extra clothes in the car but I’ve never been turned around for short sleeve shirts so I didn’t think that was a problem. Oh yeah, I even have pictures we’ve taken in short sleeve shirts.
My dad obviously forgot how these guards can operate since he hadn’t been in three years, and was about to buck until I stepped in and said slowly–. “Daddy…you…can’t… do …that… right… now! We have to get to the back first.” Needless to say… me and my daughter made our infamous trip to WalMart and bought a shirt. The Mr. calls wondering where we are. Well before I could get WalMart out of my mouth good, he already knew what time it was. My daughter could hear him buckin through the phone. She was cracking up! All I know is I was explaining the situation to him and he shouts “I’m gone to the Lieutenent” …”Bam”…hello?…hello? OK, I guess he’s gone to the Lt. My daughter and I get back to the prison and have the guard now tell us she can’t go back because of her jeans. Really sir? So now I’m bout ready to buck like my daddy. So we went back and forth about those jeans and he would not budge. My daughter had a pair of pants in the car that I didn’t know she had, so she changed into those. He still wasn’t going to budge, even though they were the same jeans we bought from Walmart last time we visited. I eventually asked if there was someone I could see above him and he started to change his tune. We finally got back there with about two hours remaining.
It’s difficult enough having a loved one incarcerated. Is it necessary to complicate an already complicated situation? According to Prison Legal News, “Studies have consistently found that prisoners who maintain close contact with their family members while incarcerated have better post-release outcomes and lower recidivism rates.” Family is a significant part of rehabilitation. Oh yeah, I forgot, the goal of prison in America isn’t to rehabilitate, there’s no real interest in lowering the recidivism rate.