Living in a Tri-State area occasionally creates unique funeral situations for families with incarcerated members. The judicial system is not obligated, nor inclined, to accommodate familial loss. States in particular are not partial to allowing inmates to cross neither out of nor into their boundaries.
If your family has suffered a loss and has a member who is currently incarcerated, you may be in luck of having them attend services if there has been a history of good behavior. Prisons in particular, like to reward good behavior and often will accommodate familial loss. Obstacles to overcome are boundaries, schedules and transportation.
If your incarcerated loved one would like to attend the funeral, it is a good idea to contact the holding facility and ask for any specific requirements. Most likely they will require authentication of death; this can be acquired from your funeral director. They will also inform you of any scheduling issues that may conflict, so be sure to take note of dates and times of restriction. Some prisons have transportation funds, and some do not. If transportation is not within their budget, you will probably not enjoy the company of your inmate at the services. Accommodations are also a concern. If your inmate is too far away to attend the funeral as a day trip, again, you will probably not see them at the funeral.
The major obstacle for inmate attendance however is boundaries. If your loved one passed in Texas and your prisoner is incarcerated in Arkansas, most likely, you will not see them if you schedule all of your services in Texas. Your funeral director, however, will be able to arrange your services so that your inmate will be able to attend at least a portion, assuming all other obstacles have been cleared. The solution requires family flexibility and cooperation.
The determining factor of services will be the final resting place of the decedent. If your loved one died in Texas and will be buried in Arkansas, the answer is obvious. Arrange the visitation and funeral service in Texas to accommodate friends and family. Then arrange burial in Arkansas. Your inmate will not be required to cross state boundaries and as long as the travel distance is not too far, you will probably see him or her in attendance.
If your loved one died in Texas and will be buried in Texas, you can arrange for your visitation and interment services to take place in Texas and your funeral services to take place in Arkansas. It has been my experience that inmates do not attend visitations, so do not expect to facilitate inmate attendance at this service. It seems the informality of this gathering lends to an unsecured environment and thereby nullifies the possibility of your inmate being there.
These accommodations can be arranged no matter what two states are involved in the services. The big consideration however will be cost. You will probably sustain lower expenses if you utilize only one funeral home rather than two. Speak with your funeral director at length before finalizing any details and be sure to coordinate with the location of incarceration. If you will do this and your inmate has behaved well, you may be very pleasantly surprised with their attendance at one or more of the decedent’s services.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences to "Make Life Right". It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.