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Can a Felon Visit Someone in Prison?

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After leaving prison, felons may want to visit someone who is currently incarcerated. This is a great way to offer support to a person going through what you have experienced.

The question is whether you will be allowed to make that visit. 

Can a felon visit someone in prison? Let’s look at this question.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • Important Factors
  • Relationship to the Inmate
  • Criminal Background
  • Application
  • Visitation 


Important Factors

Visiting someone in prison is a complex issue. Much goes into the process that is crucial to understand. 

We’ll consider these essential factors.

Each correctional facility establishes its own visitation policies, many of which you can see at Prison Insight. Visitation applications from felons are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to consider the safety of the facility in addition to the best interest of the inmate. 

When determining whether to grant or deny a visitation request from a convicted felon, correctional facilities consider many factors.

Occasionally, if you want to visit someone who is incarcerated at the same facility in which you served time, you may be denied visitation.  

It may also depend on the length of time since you were released from that location.  

Another factor is your behavior when you were there and whether your visit would be considered disruptive to the staff.

Relationship to the Inmate

First, the relationship between a felon and an inmate makes a difference. If you are a member of the immediate family of an inmate, your request to visit is more likely to be approved.  

Sometimes, a facility will not allow an inmate to have any visitation. This could be for a variety of reasons. 

An inmate who has been in a particular facility for only a short time could be denied any visitation. There could also be extenuating circumstances relating to an inmate’s behavior. However, if you are an immediate family member, they may make an exception.

Criminal Background

Basically, the facility will run a background check on you. Of course, this is easily done since the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) already has access to your entire criminal history.

The facility will look at your criminal history. If you have committed less serious or nonviolent crimes, you will more likely be approved.  

There is no precise list of felonies that might disqualify you from visiting an inmate. It will depend on the particular facility. Felons with more convictions or a longer criminal history will be examined more closely.

The length of time since the conviction is also important. The longer since the sentence was concluded, the better chance there is for approval. 

If possible, having your record expunged will facilitate your being approved. Having a job will also help.

In some states you are required to wait at least two years since your sentence ended before being allowed to visit someone in prison.

If you have charges currently pending against you, it will be more difficult to be approved.

If you are on probation, you likely will have a more difficult time being approved. This is because felons are not allowed to have contact with other felons while they are on probation.  

If you want to visit immediate family, permission can be granted while you are on probation as long as you have written permission from your probation officer.  


The visitation application is different depending on the individual facility where the inmate is incarcerated.

As a potential visitor, you must seek approval to be included on an inmate’s visitation list. This application begins with your full name, address, and phone number.

Then, the application will request your background information. Especially important as a felon is you will be asked whether you have ever been convicted of a crime. Of course, you need to be honest, though the BOP already knows your criminal history.

There are certain reasons why anyone, regardless of whether you are a felon or not, could be denied approval for visitation.

Among the reasons for denial of visitation rights are whether you have recently served time in a correctional facility or are on probation. Also, if you are on bond, waiting for a court trial, or have an outstanding warrant you might be turned down.

They could possibly deny your application if the facility considers you a security risk for any reason.

Typically, there is a one- to six-week waiting period before approval is granted. The length of time for the approval depends on the facility, the depth of the background check, and the time of year.

The facility will notify the inmate whether the application has been approved. So, it will be important to keep in touch with the inmate for the results.


In the past, the only types of visits were face to face. There are occasions and places in which visits can be done in other ways. You can have a visit by phone through a glass partition. Contact visits are the most common. Here you can sit together face to face.

While there is a lot involved in getting your visit approved, there is also much to deal with at the time of the visit. These are issues that you need to be prepared for.

First, is the dress code. Your manner of dress for a prison visitation is essential. Clothing needs to be carefully thought out. 

No clothes that are similar to an inmate’s clothing in color or style is permitted. Actually, no type of uniform is allowed as this could be a security risk.

The clothing style needs to be modest with no short dress or skirt. Sleeveless shirts or tops are also not permitted. Jewelry should not be worn.

Before being allowed to go in, expect to be searched and asked to leave all personal belongings at check-in. All of these are for security measures.

All visits are closely supervised in a public visitation area. Time limits are strictly adhered to.

While this may seem like a lot to go through, all of these issues are essential to having a successful visit. As a felon, especially, abiding by these guidelines is critical.

If you are a felon planning to visit someone who is in prison, work to make it a positive experience for the inmate as well as yourself.

Remember when you were in their position. You looked forward to a visit from a family member or friend with anticipation. In this way, you knew you were not forgotten. Research shows that inmates who receive visitors have a better chance at staying out or prison after being released.

Someone cared enough to take the time to apply for visitor status and made sure that they went through all of the steps to gain approval.

That inmate you are visiting has made mistakes just as you did. You are not defined by those mistakes, and they aren’t either.

Make this an event to be remembered. You and your inmate family member or friend will be glad you did.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can visit someone in prison? Have you or someone you know visited someone in prison after a felony conviction? What was that experience like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “Can a Felon Visit Someone in Prison?”

  1. I received my felony for possession of drugs 32 years ago. Completed probation and had my charge expunged and they will not allow me to visit my sister who is in prison now for 15 years.

  2. Felony 35 years ago.Was investigated by CBI. State, local police and Gaming commision for license in gaming. Would that help to get visitor list pass ??

  3. I was not approved to visit my son in pa doc camp hill because I was incarcerated 16 years ago??? Is this even legal? I’ve successfully completed all terms of my parole 13 years ago..someone please advise

  4. Valerie CMCF IS SO STRICT THEY WONT EVEN ALLOW PRISON MINISTRY IF YOUR CONVICTED FELON, I live in Brandon and on parole now odds are really against us

  5. I am on parole currently: in Mississippi; I am a 2 time non violent convicted felon: my fiancé which I met thru “pen pal” 2 yrs ago is in the feds for another 13 yrs, can anyone tell me how we can EVER get approved visitation? I’m reluctant to ask my parole officer for permission ? Please any feedback would be GREATLY APPRECIATED

  6. My boyfriend been in South Woods State Prison since June 2018 I was on probation when he went in they denied me visit then next they comes with this felony they denied me now they comes with this aggravated assault which was dismissed and they denied me again I just want to know if I ever going to get a visit I am 65 years old I am half way in the grave yard I am like dam I ain’t killed no one or hurt no one I just wish someone at that prison would let me know if I am not going to never get a visit.

  7. If I have a felony battery charge but didn’t have jail or prison as a sentence will I be able to see my boyfriend in federal prison?

  8. Yes I got out last Oct. I have two assault cases now I want to be able to see my girls who is in prison and they say I have to wait two years anyway I could see her sooner I get off of parole in 4 months

  9. If you have two a assault and battery and u not a family member will they let u visit a inmate if u got one espunged from your record

  10. I am an ex inmate of 20 years now and have not been in any trouble since. Now my ex husband who i am still in a relationship with and live with is in prison at the same facility i served time at 20 years ago. They will not let me visit saying i am not immediate family even though we still live together and have only been divorced 7 months. I dont see were that is right. Please someone tell me what i can do. The facilumity is cmcf ms


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