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Old 05-10-2012, 09:03 AM
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Default First Visit - what to expect?

Hello to everyone. My first visit to a prison and to visit my son is Saturday. What do I expect? It is a minimum security prison. Will I cry the whole time? What will we talk about? How long do we stay? It is his Dad and I going. It is a 2.5 hour drive. Any experience is helpful as I know nothing.

Mary Beef or Hairy
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Old 05-10-2012, 02:02 PM
anilom0514 anilom0514 is offline
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Hi there. I am new here and went to visit my son for the first time two weeks ago. He is in county so im not sure if thats your case but.... But I can tell you what happened in my case. I am a crier and I thought for sure I would be crying the entire time! In fact, I didnt even wear makeup because I was so sure. I was trying hard to be strong and positive but I knew i was going to break down. When I went in to see him, even though he had the jumper on and was behind the class and I couldnt hug or kiss him I was just soooooo incredibly happy to see his face and smile that I just couldnt cry. I realized how lucky I was that he was there and had not gotten hurt in the incident that led him there.

It was a short visit unfortunately, but we just talked about how things were in there for him, that the COs and older guys were looking out for him because he was so young. He wanted to talk again about the incident that led him there, I had felt bad that he had so much he wanted to tell me but his lawyer had told him under no circumstances do we talk about that so I had ot keep reminding him. He thanked me for sticking by his side and was apolgizing and talking about what he wanted to do when he got out (he was being very optimistic and I have to keep things neutral because I want him to know it can go either way). But that was about it. Then it was time to go When I went outside i started to cry but i Just couldnt help but being greatful for small things and realized it could be a lot worse. I still cry, in the supermarket today i cried....when i saw the flowers out for mothers day, but its par for the course. Good luck! Let us know how your visit goes and I hope I helped a little
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:05 PM
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Have you check the websight for clothing restrictions... We take in $30 quarters in clear container, baggie and eat, playcards hug and kiss briefly beginning and end of visit. I TRY to let him take the lead on conversation and keep things light. We brainstorm on the latest way to paas time for him a book, magazine, CD or course. I bought monopoly cards (games with two dice not allowed in AZ) at Walmart and got permission to bring in games, cards to add to what they have. They are something you definatly have to look into for the furture. My son is in a low yard too, I hope you can find a decent deck of cards and are brushed up on game rules. I send him copies of game rules and stuff from the internet too we talk about.

Enjoy your visit get back with all the details!!
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Old 05-10-2012, 06:50 PM
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Since you are in Ohio, I encourage you to check out that website to see whether there is any information on visitations. I am in texas so we are only allowed to bring $20 worth of quarters in a clear plastic bag. No paper money, no cell phone, all pockets have to be empty, no open toe shoes and no "revealing" clothing.
I hope that you will have a contact visit allowing you to hug and sit with him at a table instead of talking thru a glass window. You might want to check with the unit to make sure that you and your husband are approved on his visitor's list. In texas we have to be on the list in order to have visits.
As far as the emotions are concerned, always mixed feelings for me but I try my best to be strong and not cry. The first time I got to visit with him and hug him I got misty eyes and he told me "please don't do that"... My son needs me to be strong and wants me to take care of myself so I do my best to put on a happy face. We always talk about positive things and the future.
I wish you a great visit with your son. It's always a great comfort to see them.
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:33 PM
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hairy - each place is different not only from state to state but different prisons within one state can be quite different - check the website and call the prison to be sure all your t's are crossed and i's dotted - you sure don't want to miss the opportunity because of a small detail - check about money, clothing, ... as far as seeing your son - i have found that keeping the conversation as light as possible is good ... early on my son and i talked in more depth about his sorrow for having ended up in this situation but as time has passed he has begun looking more toward the future - sending books and both of you reading them gives more dimension to your conversations - i will be praying that your visit is good and all of you end the visit with some hope in your hearts ....as for the tears - there is certainly a good chance you will all shed a few at least - cherish them as a means of diluting the pain ...my minister preaches a sermon called, "Wasted" he has four points - don't waste your days, don't waste your resources, don't waste your opportunities, and the last ... don't waste your sorrows - learn from them, grow from them, become a stronger better person because of them ...blessings to you
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:07 PM
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Hey Mary!....I am so very thankful that you get to visit!!! Mine is in a high security Fed prison....so I'm with the others on checking out the restrictions on your son's prison FOR SURE....BEFORE you get there.
As for tears, I cried just about the entire time on my first visit...but there were some serious extenuating factors at that time. Since the initial visit....I don't think I cried much after that....DURING the visit....sometimes I would cry on my way home. We now laugh a lot....about things that are really not funny...we just have become a little twisted I guess!! He tells me all about the happenings in there...we NEVER run out of things to say....we do laugh out loud quite a bit!!....we talk about lots of serious things too....mostly positive. I've been going there weekly for almost 1 1/2 years now .... so it's mostly "normal" feelings....for the most part. It is what he calls his therapy for normalcy (I have learned to not react emotionally to the horror stories....just to allow him to express what he cannot express the other 6 days of the week ) and 6 hours go by in a flash! I'm just THANKFUL that he is still alive and has the faith that he has .... even when things look so scary....and his sense of humor is awesome!! We really do enjoy our Saturdays!!
I'll definately be keeping your and yours in my prayers.....and hoping for the very very best visit possible....I know you all will be so happy just to SEE each other!!!...and HUG!!!
Let us know how it goes!!
Love and prayers always,
XXOO
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:00 PM
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so glad you are all going to visit . ..I hope that you will be able to hug him - -it is so good to look in their eyes and really see how they are. don't worry if you cry - -(me, i cry when we leave - still, after 2 years). You will find plenty to talk about. and you'll leave thinking, oh, i should have told him about this or that. do check the website for clothing restrictions and what you can bring in. Mostly, relax and enjoy every minute. tell us all about it when you get back. Visits are a little scary at first, but they get easier. I promise!
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:48 PM
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Hi hairy - Since you're asking about the first visit, I can tell you that I was petrified on that first one. We had visited in county and reception for almost 2 years, but nothing prepared me for visiting an actual prison. Our son is in a medium security prison so walking through the metal gates with guard towers, walking through the metal detector, having my hand stamped, showing my ID over and over, and all that we went through did nothing to help my nerves. I was a wreck! But I will tell you that the minute that I saw my son (we hadn't hugged in almost 2 years), I ran to him and wouldn't let go. We both cried. It was such an awsome feeling and one of great relief to see that he was ok. It was totally worth what we went through that day and it still is. We now go every 2 months (we are over 500 miles away) so we get to spend 5 or 6 hours on Sat. and Sun. with him. It's always wonderful.

I did check out the visiting site for his prison beforehand so I knew what to wear, etc. Like the others have said, I hope you have done that, too, so that you are prepared and don't get turned away for some small problem.

Our visits are much like 1bird2's visits. We talk about everything - he tells us stuff that he experiences there, we talk about our lives and family, we talk about the past (good and bad), we talk about the future and we laugh a lot. We never run out of things to say and the time goes way too fast. Sometimes I cry when we leave, but I try not to because I can see that it makes him feel sad. And - like 1bird2 said - I am thankful that he is alive and that we get the chance to visit him at all. Things could be so much worse.

I hope you have a great visit with your son. Please let us know how it goes - we're looking forward to hearing all the details!
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:53 PM
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I'm so glad your getting to see him. I haven't got to see my son yet. I can't wait. Have a great visit.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:10 PM
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I've only been able to see my son once since he was taken to jail from the trial the first week of Feb. he's in Louisiana prison, and I live in AL. I got permission to spend an hour, because I cameos far. My ex, his Dad gets to see him every week! Son has been moved to medium security, and he and his dad can sit from 8:30 am till 1:30pm. He can take in food, and have a picnic once a month.

My only visit was at the first place, in Shreveport, and it was between glass and used a telephone. He looked nervous! Then got more comfortable. He had to hint once that I change the subject, because the visits are monitored. The phone quality was awful! We can visit better when he calls home! When his time was up, and he stood, he pulled out the sides of this red jumpsuit, and said, "look mom, this is my clown suit!". He's 6ft 5in so in order to get one that was tall enough, they had to get one WAY oversized! You could have put three of him in there! We laughed out loud! Discussion of his uniform is always funny!

We are working on appeal! All of us, have spent all our available funds, so we looked up the free representation for his appeal. His lawyer has already got $50,000 while WE got a 15yr sentence and NO parole for 3yrs, and a SO has to do 85% of their time! Sooooo...I told him I had read some very good things about the free Appelate Project, and said it didn't seem
Ike a bad thing. He says, "I agree, I think it's a good idea. Of course I don't have any choice! So I say to myself....yeah! This sounds like a great idea!". I laughed at the way he said, and said I Iiked his positive attitude!

We are laughing more these days.

I hope you get to see your son often!

Spiffy heart
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:19 PM
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There is one more thing that no one has mentioned. You usually cannot wear any article of clothing the same color as what the inmates wear. This even includes your shoes.

One time when we were visiting my son, a guard approached my daughter and told her she would have to leave because the inmates wore white and she had on a white blouse. Fortunately I am always cold and therefore always wear several layers of clothing. So I was able to remove one of my layers and give it to her to use, and she was able to stay. Thank goodness my underneath layer wasn't white that day.

At first this seems like another silly rule. But if you think about it, there is a good reason for it. If by chance something threatening were to happen, it would be much easier to distinguish the inmates from the visitors. So it really is for the visitors' protection.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by string of pearls View Post
There is one more thing that no one has mentioned. You usually cannot wear any article of clothing the same color as what the inmates wear. This even includes your shoes.

One time when we were visiting my son, a guard approached my daughter and told her she would have to leave because the inmates wore white and she had on a white blouse. Fortunately I am always cold and therefore always wear several layers of clothing. So I was able to remove one of my layers and give it to her to use, and she was able to stay. Thank goodness my underneath layer wasn't white that day.

At first this seems like another silly rule. But if you think about it, there is a good reason for it. If by chance something threatening were to happen, it would be much easier to distinguish the inmates from the visitors. So it really is for the visitors' protection.
This reminds me of one of our visits. No one is allowed to wear white shirts either. If you do wear a white t-shirt, they make you draw on it with a black marker. Some people have come up with some pretty funny things! But the most ridiculous of all was a 4 year old child wearing a white t-shirt. They made HIM mark up his t-shirt - like he could be mistaken for an inmate!!
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:20 AM
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I'm in Ohio and I visit my son often. He is in a level 3 so our visits are going to be different but it is a face to face visit! Hugs and kisses!!! At this prison we bring $$ in to add to a lunch card for the vending machine. I usually bring $20-30 depending if anybody else is coming with me. The lunch card cost $3 and you have to have a $5 bill to get it. You may also be lucky enough to be there on a day when you can get pictures taken~ ours are $4 and I have to get tokens for that. Our visits are about 3 hours long and we talk about all kinds of stuff. He likes to tell me some of what goes on behind the walls, my son is in sports so he tells us about his games. We talk about what is happening on the other side of the walls. If your family isn't used to chatting they usually have some cards there or games to play. I see may families playing Uno and I think it is nice for them not to have to make conversation just being together is good.
I'd urge you to go to our DRC page ( just do a google search of Ohio DRC) and then look for the tab of the facilities~ a map will come up and then you look for the prison your son is at. Click on and it will take you to that prisons home page. Usually there is a virtual tour of the visit area so you will know what it looks like. Make sure your clothes are not tight or revealing. I've never had an issue with the color of my clothes or anything really I just dress for comfort. I enjoy our "lunches" and my son especially enjoys our time together. Remember these are the ties that bind us together. Your son will appreciate the time and effort you are taking to come see him. Once you get past the first visit jitters you will look forward to another. Good Luck dear!
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:44 AM
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My first visit was bitter sweet...So sad he was there but glad to see him and see he was adjusting. Mine spent 11 months in county and said his yard was way better than county. Just enjoy seeing him, try not to cry until after you leave. Enjoy your visit I know he will. Its so important for them to have visits keeps them feeling in the loop. Lets them know they have a reason to keep there act together for when they get out.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:18 AM
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The best advice I can think of is to read the DOC's visitation policy.As others have stated it is so different at each facility.We could only bring in $10 in quarters per each visitor.The dress code was no brown or shades of brown like beige or tan.No orange,closed shoes,no bras with underwires.It was lengthy and I read it 3 or 4 times.Also, there was a paper we had to fill out each time we visited that had general info. such as name,adress, relation to prisoner,driver's licesence #.I took extra papers so that we could complete the form ahead of time and not slow down the line.Enjoy your visit!I could usually hold off on crying until the end.The visit will go by so quick ,be prepared and just enjoy seeing your child!
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:53 PM
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Thanks to everyone for your input. Makes me feel better. I need to read all that information tonight on the website. We filled out paperwork for visiting and we were approved. My son told his wife he is so excited we are coming, she and his kids visited last week for the first time. His children are 9 and 5 and didn't know he was in prison so they had to tell the older one but not the younger one, she thought he was at work and they were visiting him.

I appreciate all you mothers who couldn't wait to go, I just would rather not and I know it is because of all the emotions I will feel and it will be hard. BUT I am going, my husband won't let me stay home. It is 150 miles away. That's really not too far I guess. I hear he can hug at the beginning and then he has to sit in a chair and not move. His children were allowed to hug and touch him as much as they wanted which I really liked. His daughter who is 6 never left his lap. That's her Daddy.

I will say a prayer before I go in to do and say what God wants because that always seems to help me. Thanks again for your giving me some feedback.

Hairy
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Old 05-11-2012, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by hairy3947 View Post
Thanks to everyone for your input. Makes me feel better. I need to read all that information tonight on the website. We filled out paperwork for visiting and we were approved. My son told his wife he is so excited we are coming, she and his kids visited last week for the first time. His children are 9 and 5 and didn't know he was in prison so they had to tell the older one but not the younger one, she thought he was at work and they were visiting him.

I appreciate all you mothers who couldn't wait to go, I just would rather not and I know it is because of all the emotions I will feel and it will be hard. BUT I am going, my husband won't let me stay home. It is 150 miles away. That's really not too far I guess. I hear he can hug at the beginning and then he has to sit in a chair and not move. His children were allowed to hug and touch him as much as they wanted which I really liked. His daughter who is 6 never left his lap. That's her Daddy.

I will say a prayer before I go in to do and say what God wants because that always seems to help me. Thanks again for your giving me some feedback.

Hairy
I know it is hard - your heart will skip a beat when you see the prison from afar - then again when you get there - and again when you check in - and again when you are holding your breath to go through the metal detectors - and again when you make that walk - and again when you see him - maybe a little involuntary gasp BUT YOUR HEART WILL BE SO HAPPY!!! Your son's eyes will make it all worth it! The sheer joy of seeing you will make you want to go back again and again and again just to make him happy! - at least that's how I feel! I get tears but not to the crying point when I am with him (only through glass right now - I am afraid of the emotions for first contact visit) - I sometimes cry all the way home. It is a confused cry - one of happiness, lonliness, angst, hope, pain....

So Hairy Mary Beef - Enjoy!
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:14 AM
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OK Mary, we want to know how it went!! I have to confess....yesterday at my visit, I decided to tell my son about you going to see your son....and the tears welled up and began to flow....yep, I sprung a leak....and couldn't plug it!!! the tears kept coming....as I was telling him that I told you I really didnt cry at visits!!! I was a mess!!!....and as I thought of you, I knew I was in good company!!! My son got teary...and that made me feel worse...and the whole emotional thing just perpetuated itself .... and I was unable to do anything about it....even the CO's were freaked that I was crying....because they had never see me do that!! I cried the whole way home....till there were no more tears to flow......
So, so much for my "be strong" position!!!
Let us know how your visit was....I was praying for you through my tears!
love and prayers,
XXOO
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:32 AM
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Default Visit was good

Thanks for all your support on this site. It helped to understand more of what the visit will be like. We passed two other prisons before we reached his camp they call it. One story, small, 400 prisoners and not very much security. He couldn't move from his chair but we could touch him. All the other inmates and families meet in this same room. It was crowded and the vending machines got empty a couple of times. We drove 3 hours, stayed 4, and drove back 3. It was very good to see him, hadn't seen him since the morning of Jan. 9. I feel better at least I have an image of where he is and it's not some dank, dark, wet concrete cell. We cried when we got there and cried when we left. We will go back very soon. Hairy
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:38 AM
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Default crying too

Bird and everyone, I didn't mention it in my other post, but yes, the tears flowed AFTER I left. I was able to not cry until we were leaving and then the tears started and I cried like a baby that night and the whole next day (yesterday).

Sorry you sprung a leak but you may have needed to cry. I bet the CO's get that a lot too. My son said when he went to the bathroom they were to be searched but the CO there in the visiting room told him he wasn't going to do it today he wasn't in the mood for butts and balls. I was really surprised at that comment.

Overall, I wish he wasn't there, but he has a life there in prison, sounds like he has his schedule of things to do, and he trys to go to different meetings they have but no programs are available there it is a new camp. He as 4 years to stay there.

Thanks to you all

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Old 05-14-2012, 10:42 AM
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I am so glad your visit went well! I only wish I could have visited my son but they are on lockdown again. Each visit will be easier! Not visiting is so stressful because you cannot SEE them. It is so great to look at their beautiful faces and see whether they are doing OK or not.
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Old 05-24-2012, 07:14 AM
cheryl cheryl is offline
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Lots of posts with good advise! I made it a habit of bringing extra clothes, like light sweaters. It sucks if someone drives across the state to visit and can't go in because of the way they are dressed! I also brought clear plastic baggies. Lots of quarters but also some dimes and nickles it sucks when everyone is hungry and the machine says exact change only and no one has it! I also would bring a box of klennex and books on tape (from the library). Never let them see you cry during a visit, that's not how you want them to remember you! But cry like a baby when you reach the car! Remember you can't cry and drive so allow yourself sometime to get it together before you drive away! The books on tape I used to keep me from crying on the way home. My husband hated to visit him in prision so I usually went by myself. Also it didn't hurt that I look younger than my years and don't wear a ring to visit. When the guards know who is who and know your visiting on a regular basis they look out for them and give you useful info (like he just got another jail tattoo). I would go to the local thrift store buy a bag of clothes take it home/wash it and keep it in my trunk. I gave away a few things also a few books from AAA/ALNON on my visits to prison. Made a good friend which we would split the cost of hotel room with on visits once a month also always had someone to go to breakfast and dinner with and talk to! We would drive in Fri Night meet a Pizza Hut have dinner get a hotel for Fri. & Sat. and leave after the visit on Sun. Hope this helps! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and when I was going through it I thought it was a huge train! You will see and hear people that will do or say something to keep you hanging on if you are open to it! It's not a train the light is Hope! Hang in there Mom & Dad! I always said no matter what I'm there until his last breath! He's been out for 10 years now and has given me my beautiful granddaughter this year! I'm so glad I never gave up!
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Old 05-24-2012, 08:22 AM
szcunane szcunane is offline
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just catching up - -so glad the visit went well . .the next one will be easier. I always leave wishing I had more time . .and I usually tear up with our good bye hug. then I try my best not to cry on the way home. We usually bring our sons children with us, so I don't want to cry in front of them. Gosh, I just HATE all of this.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:21 AM
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I'm glad your visit went well. I agree with Cheryl that when you visit regular, the guards watch out for them more. We've had one tell us ahead of time when he was going to be moved, and another was a witness in DR court for my son - and he actually beat the bogus DR I also keep a couple of extra jackets in the car, and have saved a few people a trip to the Dollar General for new clothes.

The only time I haven't been able to keep from crying is when I see an EOS reunite with his family...but that is a happy cry
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