|PRACTICAL TIPS AND HELPFUL HINTS
Some practical hints and tips on
prison visiting and some rules and regulations as well:
Information on how to travel to
each prison, information on individual prisons and other
useful facts are to be found in Section 5 – CSD. For
arranging a visit, you have to call the Welfare Officer
in advance. Make sure that the meeting room and the
prisoner will be available for your visit and the Welfare
Officer is informed concerning your visit. Details refer
to in Section 5.
How to apply to the PFA as well
as how to apply for travelling and other expenses etc.
are to be found in section 7. Below are some suggestions,
which visitors have learnt (often through making mistakes)
and some rules which MUST be obeyed.
Get Prepare Before The Visit
Keep a record – many prison visitors
use a filo-fax. You can note down the prisoners name,
number, prison, date of release, birthday and many other
useful facts. I have a page for each person I visit
which I keep alphabetically. I also have a page for
each prison. This has useful telephone numbers on it
such as the Welfare Officer’s and the Superintendent's,
together of course with their names. On the page for
the prison, I list those I visit at that institution
together with their numbers to simplify finding the
numbers each time I go. If this all sounds somewhat
daunting please do not worry. If you only visit one
prisoner and so have no need of a filo-fax that is fine.
What you do for that one prisoner could change the entire
course of their life. Much better that you visit one
person than none and you may have a lot of pressing
Please do not forget your pass because if you do not have it with you it is extremely
unlikely that you will be allowed in.
You need to hand in a list of
those prisoners you wish to see with their numbers at the main gate, so it is useful to have it with you.
If you take things to the prisoners they need to be exactly as specified by that particular
prison (lists in section 5). If it is the wrong make,
size or colour (for example shampoo) it will not be
accepted. The prisoners can buy toiletries, cigarettes
etc from their earnings and so the most valuable items
to bring for them are books and magazines because they
cannot buy these. Types of books permitted are found
in Section 5.
A Rule That Must Be Kept At All
Costs: “Nothing In – Nothing Out.”
Prison is a controlled environment.
Everything that is received by the prisoner and given
out by the prisoner is meant to be controlled. Please
therefore do not receive anything either, without checking
that it is alright with the staff. Prisoners may ask
you to post a letter or something – please politely
explain that it is against the rules (they will understand
that), that they themselves might suffer and the prison
visitors’ pass might be jeopardised. Having been refused
the first time, it is extremely unlikely that they will
try it again. They will know where they stand and that
you cannot be ‘used’ in that particular way.
Under no circumstances should you
ever give the prisoner anything directly, not even a
slip of paper with your name on it. Everything must
be given to them through the staff. In most prisons,
the prisoners are searched after the visit and so if
anything were found you would both be in trouble.