Self Surrendering to Prison – What You Can Bring

Individuals who are permitted to self surrender to federal prison are very fortunate to be given the opportunity to prepare for their time behind bars. When one surrenders to a federal prison they are permitted to enter the grounds with only a handful of items. The official BOP list of approved self-surrender items is as follows:

  • A two-day supply of medication in its original container may be permitted only if it is a non-controlled maintenance medication for ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc. (You will not be permitted to surrender with anti-anxiety medication, sleeping pills, painkillers, or any other controlled medications.) Within the first week, the medical staff will attempt to find a suitable comparative medication.
  • Plain wedding band (no stones or intricate markings).
  • Earrings for females only (no stones) with a declared value of less than $100.
  • Medical or orthopedic devices.
  • Legal documents.
  •  Religious items as long as they do not present a threat to the security of the institution. (Religious medallions and chains must have a declared value of less than $100.) Note: Religious items are subject to the approval and discretion of the warden. An item that may be accepted at one prison may be rejected at another.
  •  Prescription eyeglasses.

A Social Security card and any other form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) will be kept by the prison in the Inmate Central File and will be given to the inmate upon their release.

According to official BOP policy, all other items will be sent home (with the prison paying for the shipping costs only for clothing that the individual was wearing at the time of surrender). Officially, you are not permitted to keep any personal property not listed above. However, it is not entirely unheard of for individuals surrendering to certain minimum security Federal Prison Camps to be permitted to keep their shoes and a watch, but since this is somewhat unusual it should not be expected.

Cash will not be accepted into the prison compound, but some institutions may accept a deposit to the individual’s inmate Trust Fund account upon surrender. Since it is not entirely unusual for BOP employees working at the same facility to differ on their understanding of official policy, don’t rely on being able to deposit the cash. Send the money in advance and via Western Union if at all possible.

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