Many people will find themselves visiting an inmate for the first time. When it’s their first time, they don’t always know what to expect once inside Pennsylvania correctional facilities.

Gibson Bail Bonds agents visit jails throughout the state every day. Continue reading what it’s like, so you’ll know what to expect.


Visiting an Inmate for the First TimeGibson Bail Bonds visiting an inmate for the first time

If you’ve never visited an inmate before, you can’t simply pop in. You have to schedule a visit online at least three days in advance. For those trying to plan farther ahead, you can only look so far into the future. The system only allows appointments up to 60 days in advance.

Learn what the dress code is also, because it’s strictly enforced. Don’t bring any electronics, phones, or other non-essential items as they could be considered contraband. Finally, find out if the jail is having any special operations or other restrictive hours. Otherwise, even visitors with appointments can be turned away.


Be Prepared to Be Searched

All inmates are thoroughly searched for drugs, weapons, and other contraband. Visitors will also receive searches, although not as invasive. Everyone has to pass through a metal detector to prove that they aren’t armed. Next, guests will be patted down by an officer to find any hidden items.

Some facilities will even employ a police canine to sniff out any potentially well-hidden belongings. While it seems like overkill, anything can become a weapon in the right hands. Drug trafficking is also a significant problem throughout prison systems worldwide. Think again before agreeing to bring narcotics or weapons with you.


You May Bring Cash and Coins with You

While it may seem surprising, you are allowed to bring some cash with you on your visit. Many inmates need money to purchase snacks and bathroom products outside of standard provisions. All jails will have vending machines onsite, but not all accept debit cards. If you plan on sharing a treat with someone, bring cash and coins.

However, you can’t bring in more than $20, and you can’t keep it in a wallet. All cash from the outside needs to also be held within a clear plastic bag. Even women are not allowed to bring a purse or other bag with them. Make sure you understand all the restrictions before trying to enter the facility.


Understand How Emotional Visits Can Get

Being in prison means living in an entirely different world than everyone else. While receiving visitors is nice, it can also become emotionally complex. The time always seems to go by faster within the visiting room. Seeing your father, sibling, or other family member in a prison jumpsuit is also mentally taxing.

Finally, watching them return to their cell can be especially challenging for younger visitors. You may need to have an honest discussion with children. Visiting inmates can feel challenging, but so is leaving the facility. Be prepared for a range of feelings before, during, and after.

 Are you in jail for the first time? Contact Gibson Bail Bonds for 24-hour bail bond agents.