Boy’s Behind Bars–A Typical Visit, by Ed Spencer

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We are often asked, what is a typical prison visit like? At Prison Mentoring we count it a privilege and a blessing to be able to spend time with these guys. On a typical visit, Rick and I go to the prison together, although we visit separate inmates. We arrive at 8:30 AM to the visitor entry station. From there we get buzzed into the first security door. We register with the guard who checks our IDs and checks to make sure the inmate is eligible for a visit. Long term inmates are only allowed 5 visits per month and only one visit day per visiting cycle (weekly). Rick and I are both designated “Religious Advisors” so our visits don’t count as visits for the inmate. At this point we can purchase tokens for the visiting room vending machines. When called, we then proceed through the metal detector.

From Left: Renaldo, Antonio Little, Ed Spencer

From Left: Renaldo, Antonio Little, Ed Spencer

You can not take anything into the visiting area; so they provide lockers to put your personal items in. As you go through the metal detector, you place your vending tokens, locker key, belt, etc on the table. Belt buckles don’t make it through the detector. Once through the metal detector, these items are returned to you. You will be asked to turn your pockets inside out making sure they are empty.

Next you are drug scanned either by being swabbed and computer scanned or seated in a single chair while a drug sniffing K9 circles around you multiple times. The first few times, that was a bit intimidating. The K9 does get a bit personal at times with his powerful nose. From there we are buzzed through 3 more security doors and finally arrive in the visiting room.

From Left: Alexis Rodriguez, Rick DiLaurenzo

From Left: Alexis Rodriguez, Rick DiLaurenzo

The seating area has several rows of seats that are permanently attached to each other. Getting to the visiting room, the whole procedure takes about 45 to 60 minutes. The Guard in charge sits at a raised desk. He accepts your paperwork and assigns you a pair of seats for you and the inmate. At this point we wait for our friend in the DOC jump suit to arrive. Sometimes it can take up to 30 minutes.

As Rick and I arrive, we usually ask to be assigned together, but depending on the guard, that only happens about half the time. The advantages to being assigned together is we can fellowship together during the visit, and before we leave we hold hands as we pray together. Usually the guards that know Rick and I from our frequent visits will normally allow that. Sometimes not. We are careful to obey all of the Visiting room rules and try not to stretch them too far. As our friend arrives, he checks in with the desk and then heads to our seats.

From Left: Ed Spencer, David Ludwig

From Left: Ed Spencer, David Ludwig

We are allowed to give him a big bear hug, as that contact is so important to them. The inmate is not allowed to leave his seat during the time unless he has to use the rest room which is back through the inmate entrance. The visitors have visitor restrooms in the visiting rooms. The time goes so very quickly as we talk and listen to each other, share food, and fellowship together. Usually, just before 1:00 PM, we hold hands and pray together. Sometimes the 4 of us, and other times just the 2 of us when separated by seating. We give our friend a departing hug and part ways at the guard desk.

This is the sad part and the hardest part. Tears fill my eyes as we get buzzed through the doors returning. Lex, Antonio, and David are not only a blessing and encouragement to us, but they are a light in a dark place. You can even observe in the visiting room that they are well respected by inmates and guards alike.

Antonio is about 35 years old and is serving 30 to 60 years from age 16. Lex is serving Life Without Parole since age 18. Lex is 47. David is serving Life Without Parole since age 18. I have been visiting David for 10 years he is now 29.

If you would like to write a note of encouragement to these three Christians, or more than 30 on our mentoring encouragement list, contact Rick or I.

You can also send any letters or cards of encouragement to our mailing address: Prison Mentoring, Box 310, Hilltown, PA 18927, and we will forward them to David Ludwig, Antonio Little, Alexis Rodriguez.

To write to any inmate on the Birthday or Christmas Card List using the  address information at

First Line must contain their name and DOC # (as we have provided), you must use a white envelope only, include your name and return address on top left corner of envelope, or use our return address: Prison Mentoring, Box 310, Hilltown, PA 18927

You can also choose any inmate on our Prayer List or Christmas card list at  and send your card or letter to our mailing address and we will forward it to your selected inmate.  These Christian men truly appreciate your kind fellowship!


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