First off, can you even get married while serving a sentence in prison? The short answer is Yes. It is your given right to get married while serving a sentence in prison, and the restrictions imposed on this are very limited.
US prisoners have the fundamental right to marry, according to a US Supreme Court ruling from 1987, in the Turner v. Safley case. This holds true even while you are in prison.
Your request to marry will be approved by the facility warden. So what are the few restrictions you should know about? First off, both persons that are engaged to be married must be eligible for marriage. Next, your request can be denied by the warden if they consider the marriage a security threat to their facility.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Married in Prison?
First off, even though you are incarcerated, you can still hold your wedding ceremony outside the prison walls, most of the time. So, depending on whether you get married inside or outside of the facility, the final costs will differ quite considerably.
When having the ceremony inside the facility, you will only have to pay the marriage license fee, which is somewhere around $60 to $90 depending on your state’s laws. If your state requires that you sign the papers inside the county clerk’s office, you will also have to pay all expenses related to your transportation, including mileage costs and the salary and benefits of the transporting officers. These costs will be calculated depending on the distance between the prison and the clerk’s office.
If, on the other hand, you get married outside of the facility in which you are incarcerated, aside from the above expenses, you will also have to consider the costs of booking the desired location and any other expenses related to the ceremony itself.
How Do You Get Married in Prison?
Paperwork will be needed when getting married in prison, just like in the case of binding your destinies outside of prison. There are a few steps listed by The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that you should go over before you start to prepare for this event. These steps are:
Submit a Request to Marry
Each facility has the necessary forms that people will have to submit when requesting to marry. This form should be filled out properly and then delivered to the right official.
Check Whether You are Eligible
After a request is submitted, prison officials will have to check and see whether you are actually eligible to get married. Among the things that are checked is your current marriage status to make sure that you aren’t already married.
Ensuring That You are Mentally Fit
As soon as you are confirmed eligible to get married, authorities will also have to ensure your mental competence. This won’t be performed through your usual exam. What they do instead is go over your records. This is to ensure that you are aware and fully understand what you’re getting into.
Contact Your Future Spouse
As soon as you are confirmed mentally healthy and eligible, a representative of the facility will get in contact with your future spouse. This is to confirm that the person wants to get married to you. At this point, they can give this person public information available on your file.
A Safety Determination Will be Made
As a final step, authorities will make sure the marriage won’t represent a threat to the facility or any individual in it. The unit team assigned to you will go over this with the Captain and a decision will have to be made.
Receiving the Final Notification and Ceremony Planning
As soon as a decision will be made by the prison system, a representative will get in touch with you. If you’re ne of the unlucky ones that have their request rejected, you will also get a reason for the refusal. A copy of this notification will be added to your central file. As soon as you get a notification that your marriage request was approved, you can start to plan the wedding.
Where can you have the ceremony if you’re in prison?
Due to your status, you will have some limitations related to how you plan the ceremony and where you can hold it.
Aside from the money limitation that we went over at the beginning of the article, there are other things you will have to take into account.
For example, you will have limitations when it comes to the location of the ceremony. You can put in a furlough request for the wedding only if you’re eligible for furlough. If this request is approved, you can get married outside the prison walls.
People that aren’t eligible for furlough will have to get married inside the facility. Your warden will usually approve this if your ceremony doesn’t represent a threat to the facility itself or the people inside it.
You will also be limited when it comes to who you can appoint to perform this ceremony. You can opt for a justice of the peach, community clergy, or even the BOP chaplain to hold your ceremony.
If you want to get married while in prison, you can. As long as you and your partner are eligible to marry, you shouldn’t face any problems.