Visiting someone in prison this summer: What you should and shouldn’t wear

Why visit an inmate and what to wear and why

Prison visitation is a big deal to both the inmate and the family or friend visiting an inmate. But there are dress codes and rules of conduct you must adhere to. Having one of our loved ones, family members or friends end up in jail or prison can be a very challenging and difficult situation to go through. When this definitive setback occurs within the relationship between you and your loved one, it is easy to be afraid or to don’t even consider a prison visitation in the future. Our imagination can drag us to judge and think that we will expose ourselves to danger while visiting inmates in prison. Proper attire is regarded as a condition of admission to a Federal prison or State Department of Corrections facility, and this is why.

But, if practical procedures are followed, and a careful and detailed preparation takes place, a visit to your friend loved in prison one can be 100% secure. That visit could be all that person needs to reflect and regain faith, and it can also help you to reduce your feelings of loss and reinforce your relationship with that person. Prison visitation could be the start of a positive change.

Visiting Prison: A Dress code

One of the main factors that you need to consider before showing up and connecting with your loved one is the prison dress code and what you plan on wearing. There will certainly be all of the security measures in place, but it is important to avoid any kind of provocation between inmates that then can turn into allegations or dangerous situations for your loved one within the prison. The following observations and tips generally apply for prison visitors:

No hats or outerwear. This is the way in which prisons protect and avoid the traffic of any kind of illegal contraband or objects between inmates and visitors, so your outfit should not create any space between your body and your clothes in which you could possibly hide something. Try using casual and simple clothes that don’t meet this criteria.

  • Don’t use any type of uniform as this represents a security risk
  • Any type of clothes that exposes a large amount of flesh is highly risky, so try to cover the majority of your body with light clothes, and leave the mini skirt at home.
  • Try using clothes that have a different color from officers and inmates uniforms, so that you can be quickly identified as a visitor in case of an altercation.
  • Jewelry can represent a high risk for aggression, so avoid using any while visiting.
  • Shoes are mandatory. Sandals or any other type of footwear that expose your skin can leave you unprotected.
  • Tight clothing could also be considered as provocative.
  • Offensive language or images in your clothing could also be a trigger for a conflict. Plain color clothes are ideal for this situations.

However, specific regulations and dress codes may vary among different institutions, so it is recommendable to bring an extra change of clothes and leave it in your car in case that something you are wearing is forbidden by any of the officers on duty.

Remember that all prison visitation dress code regulations are put in place to give you complete security while visiting an inmate in prison (or jail) so you can visit with an inmate to show your support and care, without taking any risk or exposing yourself.

Prison Visitation Dress Code

This information is gathered from multiple state prisons and county jails. Mostly all of the details about what you can wear when visiting an inmate are about the same across all prisons. Visitor information can be found on most websites for the prison you will be visiting.

Most Prohibited Items

These are items that you would typically have with you outside a prison on a normal day. But the following items are not authorized to enter most prison visiting areas:

  • Cell phones, beepers or other electronic devices.
  • Credit cards, bank access cards, EBT cards
  • Condoms, cosmetics, candy and cigarettes
  • Drugs (prescribed or otherwise) (Asthma inhalers and other life sustaining medications must be clearly marked and surrendered to a guard or supervisor prior to entering the prison visitation area.
  • Keys (with the exceptions of locker keys and/or one vehicle key – no remotes or alarms).
  • Money (cash or coin).
  • Photographs (scantily clothed, etc.).
  • Purses, handbags and wallets (Clear plastic clutch bags or clear zip-lock sandwich bags may be utilized for authorized items).
  • Sunglasses (non-prescription).
  • Transportation passes.
  • Weapons or sharp objects.
  • Any item deemed to be a threat to the orderly running of the institution.

Mostly Prohibited Garments: Follow the dress code

When visiting prison inmates, the following dress code guidelines must be followed, regardless of gender:

  • No transparent or fishnet clothing.
  • No clothing that exposes undergarments or a portion of the body considered private.
  • No skin-tight clothing.
  • Tops must cover shoulders and midriff areas. No tube tops, tank tops, halter tops, low-cut shirts or shirts that expose shoulder, midriff area, torso or back.
  • Bottoms must at least cover waist to mid-thigh.
  • No shorts, skirts or dresses ending above midthigh, or which have an inseam length or slit ending more than three inches above the knee.
  • No low-rise shorts, skirts or pants that expose the midriff or any portion of the buttocks.
  • No otherwise clearly inappropriate attire, as determined solely by the Department of Corrections staff on duty. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Military-style clothing worn by persons not in active or reserve military status
    • Clothing closely resembling that issued to inmates, custody staff, security guards or law enforcement
    • Professional-styled uniforms such as but not limited to:
      • Medical or nursing uniforms
      • Postal workers & delivery service uniforms, etc
    • Halloween costumes of any kind; No Masks, ski masks, Halloween masks, etc
    • Clothing depicting a message, either in wording or art, that could impact upon the safety, security or orderly operation of the correctional facility, including, but not limited to, that which is offensive, racist, sexually oriented, or advocates illegal or narcotic activities
  • No hat or headgear, unless it is religiously oriented or medically necessary, and the visitor agrees to a search of same
  • No shoes or sneakers with wheels (i.e.: Heelys). No flip-flops No steel-toed boots

1 thought on “Visiting someone in prison this summer: What you should and shouldn’t wear”

  1. Thanks for mentioning that you shouldn’t wear any clothing or uniform that represents a security risk. I think it’s a good investment for a jail to have some kind of jail booking software to monitor everyone that comes in for prison visitation and who is booked. It also seems like a good investment to hire a reputable company that can do regular updates and maintenance on the software when needed.


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