Visiting Prison

This document is to help familiarize you with the rules and process for visiting with Jabari.

Where it is

Oregon State Penitentiary, 2605 State St, Salem OR 97301

Google Maps will get you close, here is a more explicit map of where to park:


What NOT to wear

  • No blue of any shade (because the inmates wear blue). Especially no blue jeans. Dark purple can look too blue. Teal is generally OK if it’s on the green side.
  • No underwire bras (because they set off the metal detector). You must wear a sports bra or other non-underwire bra. You do have to wear a bra, it is in the rules. 🙂
  • Nothing too tight, especially not tight yoga-type pants.
  • Nothing sheer or see through.
  • Nothing with a low-cut front – shirts should be a max of 2″ below the collarbone.
  • No shorts or skirts shorter than 2″ above the knee.
  • No camouflage.
  • No hats, scarves, shawls, or anything else you could leave behind. If you wear a jacket you will have to keep it on the whole time–you cannot remove any articles of clothing while you are inside.
  • No sunglasses (prescription glasses are OK).
  • Here is the full text of the rules.

These items you CAN wear:

  • Sandals, including flip-flops.
  • Tank tops if the straps are 1″ thick or more.
  • Capris, or skirts that are no shorter than 2″ above the knee.
  • Small bits of metal on clothing and in jewelry are usually OK, but if you are worried about the metal detector don’t wear it or be prepared to remove it and put it back on (i.e. a belt buckle).

What to bring

  • Your ID. No exceptions, you absolutely must bring this!
  • A backup set of clothes if you are at all worried about your outfit.
  • For the vending machines – quarters and dollar coins. There are change machines in the lobby. No paper money is allowed in the visiting room. Coins must be in a clear plastic bag. (I always have a few dollars with me if you get hungry.)
  • Up to 5 photographs to share. (no nudity, they will be inspected).
  • If you drove, bring a door key without a beeper, or, you can leave your keys in my car or in a locker. Lockers are 25 cents.
  • You cannot bring anything else at all into the visiting room. There are a few more items allowed if you have an infant, and there are a few exceptions for medical reasons. If either of these cases apply to you, email me to discuss it. Do not assume you can bring in any medical items–let me check for you.

Visiting with children

  • Children under 15 must have ID, like a birth certificate, social security card, passport, or valid school ID. At age 16 and up they must have a state-issued photo ID like adults.
  • There is a play area at the prison, but only the inmate and child can use it together. The child cannot play unsupervised, and the child’s accompanying parent can’t use it.
  • If you are bringing a baby, you can bring a clear bottle of infant formula, two diapers, and a single layer blanket.
  • Children 8 years old and younger are not subject to the clothing restrictions, other than having to wear underwear.

When to arrive

  • If you are coming for normal visiting (i.e. not for a special event), the visiting hours are 7:15 am to 10:15 am, and 12:30 to 3:45 pm.
  • For morning visits, I generally arrive between 7am and 7:15. There are not a lot of people in the morning, especially during the week, so it is not a long wait.
  • For afternoon visits, I generally arrive around 12, so I can sign in early because it is more crowded.
  • You don’t have to arrive at the beginning of a visiting period, you can begin a visit any time up until the last 45 mins.
  • You do not have to stay the full visit.

What to expect

You don’t have to remember any of this, it’s just FYI.

  • When we get there, we sign in at the desk. You sign your name on the check in list, and then they look at your ID, confirm you are on the visiting list, and stamp your hand with invisible ink.
  • We wait until they start taking people in. They will call Jabari’s last name, “Arbogast”, and then we go through the metal detector. Place your shoes and any items you are taking in on the conveyer belt.
  • We wait on the ramp until 10 or more people are lined up. Staff come and go, but we wait until the staff assigned to take the visitors in comes down the ramp.
  • They will shine a flashlight on our hand to make sure we have the stamp, and then we’ll go into the “control room”. The gate shuts behind us, and another one opens in front of us. We go through and line up on the right, by the door to the visiting room. The guard opens the door and lets us in.
  • Jabari may or may not already be inside. Usually he’s not in the morning, but he is in the afternoon. It’s just timing, it takes about 20 minutes from when they pop his cell door to get to the visiting room.
  • We will find him, or pick a seat and wait for him to get there.
  • Depending on the weather and the whim of the officers that day, we can sometimes sit outside in the afternoon.
  • When the visit is over, we say goodbye, the inmates leave, and we line up back at the door. They take 10 people at a time back to the lobby. They check your hand stamp again when you leave.


  • You are not supposed to share food with an inmate. (But we share food from time to time and nobody has said anything.)
  • Inmates can’t approach the vending machines.
  • Inmates sit in the gray chairs, we sit in the red ones.

Don’t worry too much about this, I’ll remind you of anything you need to know.


In general it’s pretty laid back. I’ve only seen visitors have issues with the guards once or twice, usually over what they are wearing and being told they can’t go in. Once we are inside, everyone is on their best behavior. I’ve never seen any inmate or visitor have any issue with the staff while we are in the visiting room, or have any issue with each other. Everyone is grateful to have visits. Many people who come to visit are regulars and know the staff and joke with them.

If you have any questions or concerns please ask!