Social Furloughs in a Federal Prison Camp: What They Are and How to Get One

A social furlough, also known as a community or family visitation program, is a program offered in some federal prison camps. It allows inmates who meet specific criteria to temporarily leave the prison facility for a brief period to visit with their family members or loved ones in a designated location. Inmates who are eligible for social furloughs must have a good disciplinary record and must have demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation. They must also have a plan for how they will spend their time during the furlough.

The length of a social furlough is typically three to seven days, but it can be longer in some cases. Inmates who are granted a social furlough must return to prison on the date specified by the warden.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has a number of requirements that inmates must meet in order to be eligible for a social furlough.  Not all inmates are eligible for social furloughs, and eligibility criteria may vary depending on the specific prison camp and the inmate’s individual circumstances. Generally, inmates who have demonstrated good behavior, have a low risk of escape, and have a strong support system in the community may be considered for social furloughs.

·       The inmate must have a good disciplinary record;

·       The inmate must have demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation;

·       The inmate must have a plan for how they will spend their time during the furlough;

·       The inmate must have a sponsor who will be responsible for supervising the inmate during the      furlough;

·       The inmate must have a place to stay during the furlough.

Application Process: Inmates interested in participating in the social furlough program must submit an application to the prison authorities. The application typically includes information about the purpose of the visit, the individuals involved, and a proposed plan for the visit. The prison staff reviews the application and assesses the inmate’s eligibility and suitability for the program.

The BOP also has a number of restrictions on social furloughs. Social furloughs are subject to strict conditions and restrictions to ensure the safety and security of all parties involved. These conditions may include supervision by correctional officers or designated personnel, limitations on the duration and frequency of visits, restrictions on travel distances, and compliance with specific rules during the visitation period.These restrictions include:

·       The inmate must not leave the geographical area of the furlough;

·       The inmate must not contact any victims or witnesses;

·       The inmate must not engage in any illegal activity; and

·       The facility must also be staffed properly to permit social furloughs given the additional security requirements.

Purpose and Benefits: The primary purpose of social furloughs is to maintain family and community ties, which are considered important for successful reintegration into society after incarceration. These visits can provide emotional support, help strengthen family bonds, and facilitate the transition process for inmates preparing for release.

If an inmate violates the terms of their social furlough, they may be returned to prison and may be denied future furloughs.

It’s important to note that the availability and specific details of social furlough programs can vary among different federal prison camps. The decision to grant a social furlough ultimately rests with the prison administration, and the program may be subject to changes or restrictions based on various factors, including security concerns or policy updates. Inmates and their families should consult with prison officials or legal representatives to obtain accurate and up-to-date information regarding social furlough opportunities at a specific federal prison camp.

Social furloughs can be a valuable way for inmates to maintain family ties and to prepare for release from prison. They can also help inmates to stay motivated and to continue working towards rehabilitation.

Sam Mangel


Member: American Bar Association