It is difficult when a family member or friend leaves to serve a prison term. However, there are ways to make the experience better for both you and your loved one while separated by prison walls. Supporting incarcerated loved ones is a great way to help them not only endure their sentence but find ways to learn and grow from it. Here are seven ways you can support a family member or friend who is serving a prison sentence in Utah.
In Utah, you can deposit money into an inmate’s account through a service called Access Corrections. There is an app you can use in the Apple Store and Google Play, you can visit accesscorrections.com to pay, or you can deposit by phone: 866-345-1884. There are also kiosks at the main visiting entrances that accept cash or card. The Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) website has information about other options as well.
Keep in mind that all the money you deposit may not make it to the inmate. For example, if there are unpaid debts in their account or a garnishment, some of the funds may go to those first. It’s important to know that inmates aren’t denied services if they can’t pay.
Visiting is a great way to show support to a loved one who is incarcerated. As of June 17, 2021, in-person visits have resumed at the prisons in Utah. Visits will be restricted to one 40-minute in-person visit per month or one 30-minute tablet visit using the video visit system. Visits will also need to be scheduled in advance on the UDC website.
Two visitors are allowed per visit, but the visitors must follow strict rules. Visitors must:
Visitors will still need to apply to be an approved visitor. Approval to visit can take 21 to 45 days, so plan ahead. Additionally, visits must happen according to the visiting schedule, and visitors must still follow the regular visiting rules in addition to the Covid-19 rules.
This one is titled with “receive” for a reason. Sometimes it may take a lot of courage for an inmate to call you. You may not know what to say if you receive a call, so you choose to ignore it. While we don’t encourage you to answer in situations where the relationship is toxic or inappropriate, consider that answering a call and speaking (even if you don’t know what to say) can be an encouraging and positive experience for those who are confined to prison.
The phone system for inmates is Global Tel*Link Corporation (GTL). GTL provides a free five-minute call per week, and the costs for longer calls and information on how to set up a phone account can be found here.
Letters are a great way to communicate with an inmate. Chances are you haven’t spent much time writing physical letters recently. Writing is a great way to get away from the distractions of the world and focus on sharing your thoughts and feelings in a meaningful and lasting way. You can also include photos with your letter. Inmates are allowed to have up to 25 photos (no larger than 8x10).
Depending on where your loved one is, letters must be addressed as follows:
Inmate name and offender number
Utah State Prison
P. O. Box 250
Draper, UT 84020
Inmate name and offender number
Central Utah Correctional Facility
P. O. Box 550
Gunnison, UT 84634
You can find your loved one’s offender number using the Inmate Search Feature. Be sure to follow the Utah Department of Corrections strict rules regarding mail. Prison mail rooms will no longer accept any mail using colored pens, highlights, crayons, colored or decorative paper or envelopes, manila envelopes, or cards. More information can be found here.
If you don’t want to send money, you can also send gifts such as books, magazines and music. To buy a book, you must purchase it through the prison commissary. They will then have the book shipped from the book vendor. Magazine subscriptions may also be bought for an inmate. You would do this the same way you would order a magazine subscription for yourself, except you would list the inmate’s name, offender number, and facility address. For music, you can buy an MP3 player and music here.
In Utah, releases/paroles are processed on Tuesdays. Make sure you check the offender search tab on the UDC website to confirm the date and time of release. Your loved one may also appreciate their favorite snack or drink to enjoy with you on the car ride to freedom!
This option is obviously not for everyone, but the opportunity does exist. The Volunteer Services Office sets up marriages for inmates. You can contact them at 801-576-7817 if you have questions.
If you have questions about your loved one’s case or if you would like to talk through anything from appeals to parole, the experienced legal team at Brown, Bradshaw and Moffat is here to help. Give us a call today at 801-532-5297 for a free consultation.
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