Voluntary Surrender Guide

How to prepare for Voluntary Surrender to a Federal Prison.

Read below to learn what to expect and what steps to take before and during surrender.

What is Voluntary Surrender?

Voluntary Surrender is when a federal defendant is not taken into custody at sentencing but is allowed to report to their assigned prison at a later date. 

Generally, within a few weeks of sentencing the U.S. Marshals Service will provide the name of the institution and the date for surrender. Most voluntary surrenders are given at least two weeks’ notice to report. 

Voluntary Surrender

Before Surrender

  • Visit your doctor and dentist. Medical and dental care in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is basic so it is best to begin your sentence as healthy as possible.
  • Visit your eye doctor to get a current prescription for your eyeglasses. Contact lenses are not allowed.
  • If your sentence is short enough, get an extended driver’s license so you have a current one when you get out.
  • You may want to grant power of attorney to someone you trust to handle your finances and other business and legal matters.
  • If married, consider transferring utilities and other bills to your spouse’s name.
  • Have someone create an Amazon Wish List for you so friends and family can send you books easily. For Minimum and Low Security facilities, the BOP allows individuals to send inmates paperbacks but hard cover books must be sent directly from the publisher, a book club, or a book store such as Amazon.
  • To keep your credit active, consider adding a trusted family member as an “Authorized User” or “Additional Card Holder” on your credit card. If they make occasional purchases and pay them off (consider a magazine subscription for yourself) this will ensure you have recent credit history when you are released.  Contact your bank for details on their procedures for this.

During Surrender

  • The day you surrender, mail to yourself a list of all of your contacts’ phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. By the time it arrives you will have been processed into the system and will be able to receive mail.
  • After the Intake Screening process you might be held for up to 48 hours in medical isolation until you are cleared for General Population.
  • Once you have physically arrived at your facility, you are eligible to receive funds electronically. You will need money to make phone calls and purchase necessary personal items.  If possible, have someone wire money into your account as soon as you surrender.
  • Know that it will likely be a few days before all of your accounts are set up and you are able to make phone calls.

Every Federal Bureau of Prisons facility is different and could have specific rules regarding voluntary surrenders. It is recommended to contact the assigned institution directly for clarification.

What Can You Bring?

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Program Statement, inmates allowed to voluntarily surrender are permitted to bring with them:

  • Plain wedding band (no stones or intricate markings)
  • Earrings for females only (no stones) with a declared value of less than $100
  • Medical or orthopedic devices
  • Legal documents
  • Social Security card and other forms of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) to be retained in the Inmate Central File until the inmate’s release
  • Religious items approved by the Warden as long as they do not present a threat to the security of the institution (religious medallions and chains must have a declared value of less than $100)
  • Prescription glasses

The institution will only pay for the shipping costs of clothing the inmate wears upon initial commitment – pants, shirt, underwear, shoes, coat, etc.  All other property will be rejected and shipped to the inmate’s home at the inmate’s expense.