Monthly Archives: March 2017

Mar 02

Joys & Hassles of Prison Visitation

Prison Life

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 |

I am always so excited right before Christine’s visit. I had my shirt and pants pressed and got a haircut just for Christine. Overall, I try to keep up with my appearance and regular hours, but every inmate goes to extra lengths to look sharp at visitation. This is my general process to prepare for visitation:

Visitation Forms

I had to put in a visitation form that gives my family temporary visitation rights. Each family member and friend must thereafter go through the BOP process in getting approved as a visitor. It’s not a problem but this is the government. I believe that they do a quickie criminal background check on everyone.  Christine described this process from the family’s point-of-view here and here.  Also, I posted the BOP visitor forms and information links here.

Waiting for the Visitation

After the BOP staff member clears a visitor at check-in, they call me over the loud speaker. I am like most inmates; we are so anxious to see our visitors that we are standing around waiting for the page.  The Low has a terrible PA system and I am somewhat hard of hearing.  There was so much noise in the unit that I couldn’t hear the guards say my name clearly on this last visit. The first day I walked down the visitation gate twice because I swear they called my name but they hadn’t. I had to walk back to the unit each time. I had the unit CO call down to visitation a few times to see if they called me.

After I am called to the visitation room, I must knock on the door to the visitation center and the guard will let me enter. He pat searches me coming in. I can’t wear or bring anything in except my wedding ring and glasses.

Sitting Outside

The Low has an outside patio adjacent to the visitation room.  Christine and I enjoy sitting outside but the sun can be difficult for me. I had to bring my medical clearance letter to the guards to bring my sunglasses into the visitation room. Even then, I had to give the sunglasses to the room guard while I was inside. I don’t know why the paranoia about the sunglasses though I can see why they don’t want them on inside the room. It must just be easier to ban them altogether.

Showing Affection at Visitation

I also can’t believe how strict they are about touching and showing affection. They were telling women to take their head off their husband’s shoulders for God’s sake. I can understand them not wanting you to be “making out” given the kids in the room and out of respect for the other families. But, they go overboard in enforcing this rule.

Strip Search Leaving Visitation

When I leave, I get stripped search which means I must remove every piece of clothing. I think they go a little overboard here as well with the “every bit of clothing” part. It’s all part of the process to demean you and remind you that they own you.

I really enjoyed my visit with Christine. I wish we could do it every day but I know that will never happen. She means so much to me, and she has been way too good for me. I really have been doing a lot of thinking and I am finding some very positive things that will come out of this experience. I guess that the best lessons you learn happen through life’s worst experiences. Christine and I will both be better people for it – that I know. I don’t know where this whole adventure will take us but it will be for the best, and it will serve God’s will. I am sure of that.

Inmate Concert

After Christine left for Atlanta this evening, Eric R, an inmate performed a piano concert that was phenomenal! It was all classical music featuring Mendelssohn (Seriense), Mozart (3 Sonatas), Chopin (Three Nocturnes, Opus 9), Bach (Chaconne), and Schumann (Fantasy). The concert was in the yoga room and played on an old Kaiser stand up piano.  It’s too bad that he didn’t have a grand piano.

Eric is very talented. He played and toured internationally with John Mellencamp before getting tied up with a child porn case out of Thailand. It will probably be a very long time before he is released and can play professionally again, if ever.

I also had a chance to meet two of Butner’s most famous inmates (father (age 80+) and son (age 55)) at the concert and we spent a lot of time talking. I talked to the father about Munich, traveling and finding meaning in what we are going through. It was very interesting. I hope to spend more time talking to him.