Doing Time on the Outside

Is this your first time having a loved one incarcerated?

 

You are not alone. In fact, you joined the millions of families in the United States who are also doing time on the outside. This area of our page is created specifically to help guide you and answer your questions and make the time your loved one is incarcerated a little smoother.

 

In our tips corner you will find helpful information that will be useful in saving you time, money, and stress. If you have any advice or information on a certain prison such as lock down information, or certain visiting restrictions, etc., please email us at info@unlockingfamilyfutures.com.

Tip#1: Did you know that obtaining a local telephone number where your loved one is incarcerated could save you lots of money on phone calls? Unfortunately, this is only helpful for those incarcerated in a Federal prison. Local numbers can be obtained in two ways:

  • Option 1: This is a FREE way to obtain lower phone calls. Go online and search “Google Voice”
    • Set up an account
    • The system will provide you with a generated phone number. You can select to change the area code and choose a number.. Choose an area code where your loved one is incarcerated.
    • If a phone number in that area is available, you can then set your phone number as the forwarding number.
    • You will then need to give your Google Voice number to your loved one.
    • Going forward, your loved one will call your google voice number, which will ring your cell or home number.
    • I recently had a family to do this and they went from paying .23 cents per minute to .6 cents. That’s a difference of $3.45 for a 15 minute phone call down to $.90 cents per phone call!!!
  • Option 2: This option will cost you $19.99 per month; however, you will save money by having cheaper phone calls.
    • Visit https://pigeon.ly/
    • You’ll need to set up an account, as well as enter in your loved one’s inmate number.
    • They will locate the facility your inmate is in and provide you with a telephone number in that area.
    • The great part about this service is that if your loved one is transferred to a different facility, the only thing you will need to do is call Pigeonly, and let them know. They will provide you with a new number completely FREE of charge!

Tip #2: If your loved one is incarcerated in a state or county jail you will need to do the following:

  • In order to receive calls you will need to set up an account through Global Tel Link.
  • Once your account is set up, you can add money using one of the following methods
    • Call into customer service and pay over the phone with a debit or credit card
    • Send a Western Union payment. If you choose this option, call Global Tel Link to obtain all of the information needed to fill out a Western Union form
    • Add funds via a kiosk located at any state institution

Tip #3: Is this your first time going on a visit? Every minute with your loved one is precious. Take time to read over the following tips to avoid the frustrations of being denied a visit, sent away for not dressing correctly, your loved not being able to receive visits, etc.

  • The MOST IMPORTANT tip: MAKE SURE YOUR VISITING FORM HAS BEEN APPROVED. You will need to confirm this with your loved one. The prison will NOT notify you. They leave it up to the inmate to notify you.
  • The SECOND MOST IMPORTANT tip: Call the day before your visit to make sure your loved one is in GENERAL POPULATION. Otherwise, you will have wasted time, gas, and money if they are in solitary confinement, because you will be denied a visit no matter how far you’ve traveled.
  • State Prisons ONLY: You will need to email the prison to schedule a visit. Visitors who do not schedule a visit prior to arrival have a 90% chance of being denied a visit and a 10% chance of getting in if someone failed to show up on visiting day or there are extra seats available that day. I don;t recommend showing up without an appointment. EMAIL your facility.
  • Ladies wear a WIRELESS BRA. Many of the prisons make you go through a metal detector and will not let you into the visiting room until you have cleared it
  • NO SWEATPANTS or KHAKI colored cargo pants. These are clothing items that resemble inmate attire and are not allowed in the visiting room.
  • No OPEN TOE shoes
  • Skirts and dresses must be 2 inches below the knee
  • No shorts
  • If taking an infant, try and put socks on their feet. Some facilities may deny you entrance into the visiting area depending on the correctional officer working.
  • Try and bring change for the snack machine just in case the bill changer is down
  • Make sure you bring a clear see through bag for your belongings. I typically put my key, ID, and money in a small zip lock sandwich bag
  • Federal Prisons ONLY: Make sure you have your ID as well as any children 16 and older
  • Federal Prisons ONLY: You will need to write down your license plate # on the intake form. Try and memorize it before going into the building
  • State Prisons ONLY: Bring identification for ALL children inĀ  your custody. I believe they require a birth certificate. Call or email the prison in which you are planning to visit to make sure. Bring your photo ID as well.
  • If your bringing your infant baby, you will be allowed to bring in 2 bottles, a couple of pampers, and wipes, but they will need to be in a plastic clear bag. Again check the facilities website to see what you can and cannot bring in or call. NO Baby TOYS, car seats, strollers, etc!
  • Federal Prisons ONLY: Find out what time inmate count is and plan to arrive before or after count. Otherwise, you will be turned away if you arrive during count and told to come back afterwards.
  • Federal Prisons ONLY: Find out if visitors are able to walk inside the building upon visiting hours to be processed or if they are to wait outdoors for a period of time. At FMC Lexington, visitors have to wait outside underneath a gazebo until 8:30, before the gate is buzzed open. Once the gate is buzzed open, visitors can proceed into another outdoor area to fill out their visiting intake forms, and wait outside until it is their turn to be processed. So, if your planning to visit in the winter months dress accordingly.
  • PACK EXTRA SHOES & CLOTHES- Many of you will be traveling at least 30 minutes or more. Being turned away for a visit due to your clothing is no fun and can be heartbreaking for children expecting to see their parents. Pack extra clothing such as jeans, long sleeve shirts, tennis shoes, sweaters, etc. If you are unsure about your outfit, pack something extra just in case. This will save you being turned away. If you have extra clothes you can go and change and if your outfit is more appropriate the correctional officers will proceed with processing you for your visit.
  • THE DRESS CODE DOES apply to children as well, so parents/guardians dress them accordingly.
  • Lastly, HAVE A WONDERFUL VISIT and again remember to check the facilities website for detailed information.

Please email us if any information listed is inaccurate or no longer applicable at info@unlockingfamilyfutures.com

Tip #4: How to send your loved one money?

  • State Prison Facilities: You can send your inmate a money order to the correctional facility with their name and inmate number.
    • A quicker route is to use the kiosks that are located at most state facilities. You do not need to be at the facility in which they are incarcerated to add funds to their account. You can go to any kiosk, at any state correctional institution. Funds will typically post to their account immediately
  • Federal Prison Facilities: You can send your inmate a money order to the correctional facility with their name and inmate number as well.
    • A second alternative is to send funds via Money Gram. Money Grams are done at all Walmart locations or online at moneygram.com. You will need the following information:
      • Express Payment Form from Money Gram (Blue form)
      • Their account number- this will be their inmate number and last name no spaces or dashes (ie. 12345678DOE)
      • Company name: Federal Bureau of Prisons
      • State and City- No matter the institution the state and city is Washington, D.C.
      • The amount you wish to send
      • The receiving code: 7932

I hope that this information is helpful. If you have any tips to be added please send us an email, so that we can keep all of our families informed. REMEMBER we are in this together. There are over 2 million children with a parent that is incarcerated by no means are any of us alone.