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Last month, I received an email from a prison wife named Jess D. She was extremely nervous about an upcoming 24-hour prison visit her and her daughter had been granted to spend time with her locked up husband.
Jess D’s story is like that of numerous other prison wives who found themselves abandoned by family members because she chose to stick by her husband in jail. Even her in-laws seemed to be a bit passive about supporting her decision to take part in the overnight prison visit.
Please Advise Me on My Upcoming Extended Family Visit
With Jess D’s permission, I’ve decided to publish the transcripts of our emails.
From Jess D. on March 25:
My name is Jessica and I know your probably saying why is she emailing me. I was reading a article online that you had written about extended family visits at the prisons…
My husband is incarcerated for almost 2 years now and has been granted a visit with our daughter and myself for 24 hours. The visit starts tomorrow and I’m so nervous and a little scared. I keep going back and forth about going.
My daughter is 3 and knows she is having a sleep over with her daddy and says she wants to go and is excited but I’m just leery. She is very shy, quiet, and timid and I also am as well.
I have my in laws who are super protective not wanting me to go but will support my decision and as for my parents and friends well they all walked out on me because I decided to stand by my husband thru his incarceration.
Is there any even if its a little bit of advice? I understand if you don’t write back or feel uncomfortable. I’m only reaching out be a use I just know nothing about any of this and the process and I’m just a nervous wreck..
From Renee Patterson Writes on April 11:
I am so sorry. I am just now seeing your email. I truly apologize because I would have surely been there for you. If you still need to vent, talk or get some advise, please email my back. I’m here for you if you still need me.
From Jess D. on April 11:
Thank you so much for writing back!! We went to the extended family visit. I decided it was best for my daughter my husband and myself.
How silly it was for me to even be nervous or almost backing out and not even going. My husband made me so proud!! He made this 24 hour visit about being a father and doing all the things he needs to as a father.
He just was amazing and it just made me see first hand why we have stuck together and just what a amazing man he has grown into and is truly ready to just take care of his duties as a father husband and our support.
It was the best 24 hours I have had in 2 years and it just gave us so much confidence in our relationship and a lot of peace which we both needed. Ahh I’m glad things are taking a turn for the best finally. Thanks so much for taking the time to write be back it means a lot!
From Renee Patterson Writes on April 11:
You are so welcome. I’m so glad things went well for you.
Would you mind if I posted these two emails you sent me on my blog? I would really love to share your story with my audience?
From Jessica D. on April 11:
I would be so honored if you did. This experience takes so much support and we all need to help each other thru this. Its the only way. Thank you so so much.
Please stay in contact with me. I just loved all your articles. They helped me make my decision and I’m so happy I did it. It helped our whole family and gave so much peace.
Extended Family Visits Keep the Family Structure Solid
As a prisoner’s daughter, prison sister, prison cousin, prison niece, ex-prison fiance and all around prison loved one, I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that prison visits are key to keeping these foundations solid. This is especially true when it comes to extended family visits.
Not everyone has the option, or privilege, of having extended family visits with their incarcerated loved ones. For one, only a handful of state prisons allow extended family visits, and federal prisons are totally against them altogether.
Rules and Regulations for Extended Family Visits
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Secondly, the state prisons that do allow extended family visits, have extremely strict rules and regulations. Oftentimes, prisoners don’t qualify due to the natures of their crimes, or because of behavioral issues that have occurred since they’ve been locked up.
In CDCR prisons, for example, “lifers” are not allowed to have extended family visits. The same rule applies for CDCR prisoners locked up for domestic violence issues, or those with positive HIV statuses.
Then, there are the family members who don’t qualify for various reasons. In some cases, it’s just a matter of choice:
“I don’t want to be locked up in a prison overnight.”
“Do I really want to take my kids to a prison to be locked up for that long?”
“I can’t imagine going that long without a drink or a cigarette.” (This was me!)
I Really Need My Prison Mom
But, the bottom line is: Extended Family Visits are an essential part of maintaining a solid family structure.
Because of my choice to stop smoking cigarettes last year, I finally feel confident enough to have one of these overnight visits with my mom. I may be wrong, but I believe CDCR allows five (maybe) prison visitors on these visits at one time. If this is true, that’s a whole-nother can of worms because I couldn’t imagine sharing this precious time with my grandmother or aunts.
Regardless, I am down to spend some private, quality time with my mother. As a prison daughter, I’m here to tell you, not having her here in my life as a mother has been sheer hell. One night alone could heal a heck of a lot of wounds, because I need more prison mother more than anything else in this world.
Prison Stories by Renee Patterson Writes
Check out these great prison stories written by me, Renee Patterson. These prison eBooks are dedicated to prison loved ones all over the world.