Pennsylvania Law enacted in 1829 explicitly set out a limited set of persons authorized to visit prisoners. The law stated:
No person who is not an official visitor of the prisons, or who has not a written permission according to such rules as the inspectors may adopt as aforesaid, shall be allowed to visit the same; the official visitors are the Governor, Speaker and members of the Senate, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives, the secretary of the Commonwealth, the Judges of the supreme court, the Attorney General and his deputies, the president and associate Judges of all the courts in the state, the mayor and recorder of the cities of Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Pittsburgh, commissioners and sheriffs of the several counties, and the acting committee of the Philadelphia society for the alleviation of the miseries of public prisons.
None but the official visitors can have any communication with the convicts, nor shall any visitor whatever be permitted to deliver to, or receive from any of the convicts, any letter or message whatever, or to supply them with any article of any kind, under the penalty of one hundred dollars fine^
The Philadelphia Society for alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, the organization slightly misnamed in the law, was active in visiting prisoners in Eastern State Penitentiary.