The First Visit to Loved One In Prison: My Parents Son and My Brother
We had no idea what to expect during our visit to our loved one in prison; my brother, their son. The first time my parents and I visited my brother in prison there was a wedding. It was Valentine’s Day, so on the outside that would be an appropriate time for a wedding. We saw families sitting together laughing and children playing. It was so surreal; we couldn’t believe it all. We were so sad and confused and scared. Nobody prepared us for the visit so we didn’t really know what to expect, but it wasn’t this.
We each had to drive at least four hours to get there from different parts of the state. When we got there we waited in line outside with everyone else. The others that were waiting were very kind and told us we had to wait until they called us. Visitors were called in the order that they arrived. When it was our turn we had to provide our ID’s and get processed because it was our first visit. The guards were very strict and told us in authoritative voices what we needed to do. “ID please…stand right there and wait”. “Stand over here so we can take your picture.” “Place your hand on the outline hand and make sure you spread out your fingers. No don’t move, we’ll tell you when to move.” “OK it recognized your hand. You’ll place your hand on the machine every time you visit.” Clank. “OK you can go through the door and then wait.” Another guard was sitting inside and asked us what we were bringing in. My mother had her medications with her and the guard placed them in a locker. She told her that when she needed her medication to let the guard inside know and they would make sure she got her medication. We then walked through a metal detector and had to wait. The female guard took my mother and me, separately, into a small room to frisk us. The male guard took my dad into another room. The female guard frisked me and ran her hands through my hair. I had to take my shoes off so she could look into them and made sure I didn’t have anything in my socks. I also had to pull out my bra to make sure that I wasn’t hiding anything in there. Then we got to go into the visiting area.
The Visiting Area
The visiting area reminded me of a high school cafeteria. Long tables with chairs and vending machines around the outside. There was a box with cards and games, but we didn’t know about it so didn’t take anything. Others knew and by the time my brother got there the box was empty. There was also a commissary where we could buy food and drinks once it was opened. The guard told us to sit and wait. I was nervous and had to use the restroom. When I went to it, it was locked. When I asked the guard he told me that he had to unlock it and only one person was allowed in the restroom at a time.
My mother loves coffee, so we got her a coffee from the vending machine. I’m not sure how much money we brought, but we did know to bring small bills and change.
We picked 3 seats at the end of one of the tables. The chairs were plastic and not very comfortable. We sat and waited and watched the inmates come in one at a time. We didn’t know it then, but each one was frisked before they were able to enter the visiting area and their frisking was much more invasive than ours.
Seeing Him for the First Time
Finally my brother, their son, walked in. He was wearing a blue prison outfit and his hair was really short. He had thick black-rimmed glasses on and an old watch. His shoes looked like slippers. We hugged and talked. The weather was nice so we went outside and that’s when we saw the wedding. I don’t know what I was expecting, but not a wedding. We watched as it kept us occupied. We really didn’t know what to say to each other.
Sharing a Meal
When the commissary opened we purchased sandwiches from the vending machines. The kind with processed meat in the plastic wrapper. They had microwaves and we waited in line to use them. We purchased sodas from the vending machines. After we ate we purchased ice cream from the commissary. Eating together was something familiar and was the only normal thing we experienced there.
After we were there about an hour a guard came in and announced “Count”. My parents and I looked at each other bewildered. My brother got up and all of the inmates lined up outside. About 15 minutes later they all came back in. “What was that?” we asked. He said that they have count several times a day to ensure that all of the inmates were there.
I don’t remember much else about the conversation. When we left we were able to hug each other. We all walked up to the guard table and told him we were leaving. Another guard came up and walked my brother away. We watched and then left the visiting area. There was another “clank” and the door opened and we were outside. My parents and I hugged and said our good-byes. My father said that he would never come back here again. I don’t know how I got home through all of my tears, but I arrived home safely. I knew that I would be going back, but I didn’t know when.