What You Need to Know: Visitation Times, Inmate Contact, and Rules
The Smith Unit is a maximum-security prison named after Preston E. Smith and it is situated three miles on FM 827 East off Highway 87 South in Dawson County, Lamesa Texas. The prison sits on 563 acres and houses male inmates totaling 2 234. The facility is heavily guarded and secured by razor wire fences, armed guard towers, roving patrols, and multiple electronic sensors.
Smith Unit houses inmates who are classified from G1 minimum to G5 maximum. G1 is the least dangerous offender and G5 is the more aggressive and violent offender. All inmates in this prison are serving sentences of less than a year. This may seem like a relatively short period of time, but if you would like to contact, visit, or mail a family member or friend while they serve their sentence, here’s what you need to know.
How to Connect with a Smith Unit Inmate
Although this is a maximum security facility that houses dangerous individuals, the prison allows all inmates to have some form of contact with the outside world. These are the rules and regulations for each form of contact:
In-person Visiting Hours
As stated above, all Smith Unit inmates are allowed visitation between 8 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. For prisoners in the Expansion Cellblock, an appointment has to be booked prior to the visitation. These are the basic rules and guidelines for visitation at the Smith Unit:
- Carry only clear plastic bags
- No paper cash is allowed on the premises, only quarters to the value of $20 are permitted for vending machines.
- Remember that each inmate gets one 2-hour visit per weekend, so use it wisely.
- Only 2 adults are allowed per visit (children under 16 won’t be counted in this number)
- Visitors traveling over 300 miles to the institution can request an extended 4-hour visit. However, these kinds of special visits are only permitted once or twice a year.
Mailing a Smith Unit Inmate
If you are unable to make physical visitation to your family or friend in Smith Unit, you’ll be glad to know that there is an option to send them a letter or even a package via the mail. The rules are simple:
- Packages must not be over $60 in value for the first 3 quarters of the year and $85 from October to December.
- Packages and letters must be addressed accordingly to the following mailing address: Prisoner Name, TDCJ ID Number,
County Road 19
Lamesa, TX 79331
Telephone Contact With an Inmate
Inmates are allowed to make phone calls between 7 pm- 10 pm for 20 minutes each, and they can only call landlines or cellphones. Inmates typically establish their own list of contacts when they are initially incarcerated, this list can be updated during the course of their stay. To receive calls, register your number by calling 1-866-806-7804 or by registering on their website at texasprisonphone.com. Note that all phone calls are monitored and recorded.
Sending Money to a Smith Unit Inmate
Apart from physical visitation, letters, phone calls, and packages. There is still another way you can assist your friend or family on the inside by sending them money.
The first option is JPay which allows you to use your Visa or Mastercard credit and debit cards to send money to inmates. The second is ECOMMDIRECT which also allows you to send money to an inmate. Regardless of the option you choose, you will need the inmate’s ID number and name.
Steps to Take Before Contacting an Inmate
Before you are allowed to see an inmate, there are some steps and procedures that need to be followed in order to receive clearance. Here’s what you will need to know:
- Locate your inmate – If an inmate hasn’t called to let you know where they are being held, you need to find out first before making contact with them. You can do this by searching on websites for registered offenders or calling the prison.
- Fill out the form from the Texas Department of Criminal justice to request visitation.
Smith Unit Educational Courses and Vocational Skills
If you have a loved one at the Smith Unit facility you’ll be glad to know that prisoners receive basic education classes for adults, vocational skills, and agricultural skills. Skills taught by the prison programs include:
- Cabinet making
- Arts and Crafts
Inmates can also find jobs at the on-site mattress factory and help in the everyday maintenance of the factory. Prisoners are also given the chance to obtain a GED and further their studies.
Prison can be a horrible place for those who are inside, but having contact and support from the outside world can make this experience more bearable for an inmate. Thankfully the Smith Unit tries to prepare offenders to leave in better shape, by providing them with literacy courses, basic education, and vocational skills to use in the outside world.