Visiting your loved one is a high priority.
This important action let’s the incarcerated know they are not forgotten and you still love them. Registering for a visit can be a time consuming and frustrating activity. It will probably take longer than you expect and possibly a set back or two as paper work gets misplaced or deemed incomplete. So be patient and keep in mind there’s a visit after all these hoops!
The actual process will vary depending upon the location and level of incarceration. City jails are usually the least restrictive and its best to call the local police department for details or perhaps just stop in. Depending on the circumstances and time of day they may allow an immediate visit. The State prison system has the highest requirements for verification and is very procedural. County and other institutions fall someplace in between.
Four Things You Need to Know
- You must register before a visit. Other than a city jail, registration will take multiple days.
- Depending on the facility you will need various State or Court documents proving who you are and for the State system, how you are related to the inmate.
- This can be a frustrating process. Losing your temper and sharing your thoughts with the corrections officer will NOT speed up the process.
- After your registration is approved you must then schedule a visit. Often times visitation is limited to certain days and times. State prisons require you to schedule two weeks in advance.
Each county has its own procedure and registration form. In addition to name and address they often interested in your relationship to the incarcerated and your legal background (are you a felon, on parole, etc.) Generally, the identification requirement is some ID like a drivers license, state issued ID, County Human Services card or other “official” documentation. Some like Cuyahoga County have online registration. As a word of warning, just because you complete the online form this doesn’t mean its received and approved. It’s worth your time to call a few days after it was sent to verify it was accepted.
Select counties are listed below. Not all websites are equally useful; you may need to call to get your questions answered. If your county is not listed, enter your county name and “county corrections” (e.g. “Stark County Corrections”) into your favorite search engine. County jails are usually operated by the sheriff’s department. If nothing obvious pops up in the search, search for the county sheriff’s department.
Ashtabula, Ashland, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Summit, Wayne
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC)
DRC facilities use the same visitor information form and have the same visitor relationship verification requirements. What varies are visitation days, times and visit scheduling. Unlike most county jails, a visit in a State facility is face-to-face without a barrier where you can physically touch (appropriate to a public venue of course!) and touch. These visits can last hours and vending machines are available for food and beverage. Bring quarters and dress appropriately.
Relationship Verification Documents
For specific information about scheduling, dress codes, driving directions and other information click here.
Again, registration for prison visitation is frustrating. In the end, after all the hoops, is a visit. So “start with the end in mind.”