Visitation by family and friends is encouraged and can be a positive influence during an inmate’s time in prison, as well as after the inmate’s release. Research has shown that an inmate who receives regular visitation adjusts much better once he or she is released from prison when the privilege is used to maintain a positive relationship.
In addition to enhancing the safety of our correctional facilities, DOCCS wants to ensure that visiting is family friendly and the visiting experience for inmates and their loved ones is positive.
Visitors who violate visitor rules may be prosecuted and/or loss of visiting privileges. Rules are established to keep everyone safe and offer a positive experience.
Directions and Mileage
Correctional facilities are sometimes hard to find and may take longer to reach than you originally anticipated. Please refer to the addresses of state correctional facilities. The DOCCS website gives directions to correctional facilities from Albany, New York. Directions may also be obtained through Map Quest on the internet or by calling the correctional facility.
Who Can Visit?
With little exception, anyone can visit an inmate, as long as it is during visiting hours, the visitor has proper identification, and the inmate agrees to the visit. Visitors are required to sign a statement indicating that they have been advised of and agree to abide by the rules and regulations regarding visiting.
Make sure you know how many visitors may visit at one time. Each facility is different. Sometimes special arrangements for extra visitors can be made through the Superintendent’s Office, with several weeks or a month’s notice. You can call the facility to find out about special arrangements.
Special Permission Visitors
The following individuals can only visit with special permission:
A person who is currently under Parole or Probation supervision.
A Department employee.
A current, active volunteer for the Department.
A current contract employee.
A person with pending or past criminal proceedings may be denied pending approval by the Superintendent.
Special Permission Visitors (Continued)
If any of these conditions applies to you, permission should be sought by writing to the Superintendent well in advance. You must do this and receive approval before you may visit. The Superintendent may deny visiting privileges to visitors with criminal histories if they feel that the visitor’s presence could create a threat to the security and good order of the facility. Criteria to be considered shall include, but not be limited to, the purpose of the proposed visit, the former institutional adjustment of the ex-inmate, the nature of the pending criminal proceeding, and the time frame between release and the proposed visit. NOTE: In addition to the Superintendent’s approval, Probationers and Parolees also need written approval from their Probation or Parole Officer.
Visiting Days and Times
BEFORE YOU VISIT, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE VISITING SCHEDULE. BE THERE ON THE CORRECT DAY!!!
Except in cases of emergency and instances of termination, suspension, or revocation of the visitor’s privileges, the number, length and frequency of visits by each visitor will be limited only as necessary to accommodate all visitors who arrive during the scheduled visiting time.
Visiting days and times are different for each facility. They are influenced by the security level and population concerns of the facility. At many facilities, you may only visit on certain days of the week, for example, by last name (A-L) (M-Z) or by the inmate’s DIN. As a general rule, maximum security facilities have visiting on a daily basis. Medium and minimum security facilities have visiting on weekends and holidays. Work Release facilities have visiting for inmates in restriction units only. Shock Incarceration inmates have visiting every other weekend.
PLEASE NOTE: Inmates designated as SHU status (Special Housing Unit) are limited to one visit per week, excluding legal visits that have been approved. Contact the facility for the specific visiting schedule.
Visiting hours vary by facility. Some may even include evening hours. Many visiting rooms become very crowded and often visitors are told they must leave because there are others waiting to get in. It is good to learn, in advance, as much as possible about the facility you are going to visit. Contact the facility prior to your initial visit to determine the visiting policy.
Visitor Processing Areas and Visiting Rooms
Processing is slightly different at every correctional facility. Some facilities have a Visitor Hospitality Center where you can wait, change clothes and relax until you are called for your visit.
Visiting rooms vary. Some visiting rooms are like high school cafeterias with chairs, tables, and vending machines. Other visiting rooms have a counter that winds around the room where inmates sit on one side and visitors on the other side. The inmate will sit facing the Correction Officer’s desk. Often there are vending machines in the room or in a nearby room. There are restrooms in the area as well. It is always a good idea to bring change for the vending machines. Generally, once you are in the visiting room, you cannot leave without terminating your visit.
Depending on the correctional facility, activities for children vary. Most facilities have a specialized area where children can watch videos and play games. Normally, you can not take toys or stuffed animals into the visiting room.
AN INMATE HAS A RIGHT TO REFUSE A VISIT. SHOULD THIS OCCUR, YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED BY THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE VISITING ROOM.
The Superintendent may deny, limit, suspend, or revoke the visitation privileges of any inmate or visitor if the Superintendent has reasonable cause to believe that such action is necessary to maintain the safety, security, and good order of the facility.
Visitors are required to furnish proof of identification, which includes the following: All adult visitors will be required to present photo identification when being processed to visit an inmate in DOCCS. Acceptable forms of photo identification must be valid, and current (not expired) and may include:
A driver’s license with photo;
A Department of Motor Vehicles non-driver photo identification;
Government issued photo identification;
Armed Services I.D. with photo;
Employment identification with a photo.
To ensure faster processing, it is recommended that you use the same identification at every visit, regardless of who you are visiting and where. Your photograph will also be taken for the visitor identification system. For minor children only, birth or baptismal certificates may be used for identification purposes. Lawyers and other persons entering for official visits can use:
Government issued employee photo identification.
A court issued employee picture identification or a Unified Court System attorney secure pass identification card.
Visitors Under 18 Years of Age
All minors must be escorted by an adult who is approved to visit or an adult in an official capacity with proper identification and the approval of the Superintendent or his/her designee. The adult escort will be responsible for the behavior and conduct of the minor while on facility property, as well as identification of the minor.
Children of inmates will be allowed to visit without written permission. The inmate’s name should appear on the child’s birth certificate as verification of relationship. No visit will be permitted if a court order prohibiting such visit is on file with the facility.
Children of inmates who are 16 years of age and older will be admitted without adult escort.
Unmarried minors under 18 years of age must have written permission from their parent or guardian to visit an inmate, if they are not accompanied by their parent or guardian. Written permission may be mailed to the facility in advance or presented by the accompanying adult at the time of the visit.
Married persons under 18 years of age who are related to an inmate do not need the permission of a parent, guardian, or an adult escort in order to visit an inmate. However, proof of age and marriage will be required.
If you arrive with a small child, you will be allowed to take a diaper bag, three (3) diapers, and plastic baby bottles into the visiting room. (Milk is not always available at the facility. It is a good idea to bring your own). All articles must be searched beforehand. A suitable area within the perimeter of the visiting room is provided for the changing of diapers.
The introduction of contraband to the facility is ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED. Do not bring weapons, drugs, alcohol, cell phones, memory cards and other posted items into the correctional facility. Contraband is defined as:
Anything in possession that would constitute an offense under the law applicable to the public.
Anything which could be used to cause death or serious physical injury, including, but not limited to, a hand gun, shoulder gun, cartridge, knife, explosive, or dangerous drug (including marijuana).
Anything that is introduced into a correctional facility with the intent to transfer to an inmate without the permission of the Superintendent or designee.
Anything that is not specifically authorized to be possessed by an inmate in a state correctional facility according to the rules of the Department or local rules of the facility. (Cell phones, alcohol and money are among the items inmates are not permitted to possess).
If you are caught with weapons, drugs, passing drugs, or if there is reasonable suspicion that you are involved with drugs, your visits can be suspended forever, and criminal charges can be filed against you. If this happens, your loved one may have outside criminal charges pressed against them which could lead to a new sentence and more prison time. In a correctional facility, promoting prison contraband is a felony offense. Such a situation could result in your being arrested in a town far from home, your children (if they are with you) being taken by Child Protective Services, prison time, and other serious disruptions to your life.
All persons entering a correctional facility are subject to search, as a condition of entry; and any visitor who refuses to comply with any search procedure will not be permitted entry into the correctional facility.
Substance Detection/Ion Scan
Visitors may be subject to ion scanning or other non-intrusive test for detection of drugs and explosives. A substance detection/ion scanner test is a search using a handheld collection unit to take surface samples from the person’s hands, clothing, personal items, purses/handbags, packages or any other articles. A positive test result may occur when a person has come into contact with drugs or explosives (knowingly or unknowingly), whether the person has used that substance or not. If the test is positive, a second test of the same area is done. A confirmed positive test or test refusal will result in the denial of entry into any correctional facility for 2 consecutive days.
You will have to pass through a metal detector. Clothing containing metal (e.g. decorative buckles, buttons or studs) or wire, including, but not limited to underwire bras, may cause the metal detector to alert and require further processing. If you wear clothing containing metal, you may have to go through a limited visual search, personal item search, or strip search before entry into the facility will be permitted. If you choose not to go through the additional search, your visit will be denied. Your decision to decline to be searched will not affect future visits. Special processing arrangements can be made for visitors who are the recipient of a pacemaker or defibrillator and wish not to pass through the walk through metal detector.
Limited Visual/Personal Item
If a metal detector alerts and the visitor cannot reveal or remove the detected object due to its personal nature, staff may pursue several search options. If you do not want to be searched, you will be allowed to leave. Deciding to leave instead of being searched will not hurt your ability to visit in the future.
Limited Visual Search
A limited visual search is a search done in a private area where an officer or staff member of the same gender will visually inspect the area in question. The visitor will lift any clothing or under garments necessary, to show the staff that no contraband is hidden on the visitor’s person in the area in question. If a staff member of the same gender is not available, a personal item search is used instead.
Personal Item Search
A search of personal items may be conducted as an alternative to a limited visual search or when a staff member of the same gender is not available. The visitor is allowed to enter a private area or room to remove items of a personal nature including braces, underwire bras, etc., and given a paper bag in which to place the personal items. The visitor is also allowed to wear a large white shirt as an outer covering during reprocessing procedures. The visitor will be reprocessed via a hand scanner or walk-through metal detector. The bag and its contents shall be discreetly inspected for contraband.
If a visitor to a correctional facility has complied with all of the search processes and a supervisor determines that further processing is warranted, the Superintendent or the officer of the day may authorize a consensual strip search after reviewing the matter.
The Superintendent must have reasonable cause to believe that contraband is concealed upon the person, based upon specific and explainable facts and inferences reasonably drawn from those facts.
The visitor has the option to submit to the requested search procedure or to refuse.
If a visitor refuses to submit to a strip search the visit will be denied.
Refusing to submit to a strip search is not proof of guilt and future visits cannot be denied because you refused a strip search.
A visitor is not routinely required to remove religious headwear during search procedures. However, if staff determines, following the use of the hand scanner, that removal of the headwear or any other item of religious apparel is necessary, the item shall be removed in a private area in the presence of a security or civilian staff member of the same gender. If there is no staff member of the same gender on duty, and the visitor still refuses or cannot remove the item due to its religious significance in the visitor processing area, the visit will be denied
If you submit to a strip search, a security supervisor must obtain your written consent on Form #2061 – Notice of Consent to Search. In the case of a minor child, the consent must be given by a parent, guardian, or a person in an official capacity regarding the minor.
Strip searches shall be conducted in locations heated to a level of human comfort for disrobed persons.
Strip searches shall be conducted by an officer of the same gender as you. In unusual circumstances, you may be told that your child has to be strip-searched. In this case, the parent, guardian, or person in an official capacity who has escorted the minor to the facility shall be requested to be present, and, at the discretion of the officer, may participate in the strip search. If at any time during the procedure the minor objects to the strip search, the procedure shall be terminated immediately.
It may take time for the person to come to where you are to do the search. If you pass the search, you will be allowed to visit. If you do not pass the search, your visit will be denied, future visits can be denied, and the State Police may be called to arrest you if illegal contraband is found. There may be other negative consequences.
Cellular phones, pagers, personal digital assistants, cameras, recording devices, two way radios, laptop computers, or other similar electronic devices are prohibited from entering correctional facilities.
Due to the fact that smoking is not allowed inside our correctional facilities, tobacco products (including matches) for personal use are not allowed inside a facility.
Prescribed Routine Medications
All medications must be declared and given to the processing officer. They shall be identified and stored in a secure area. If the visitor needs the medication during the visiting period, it may be obtained as directed by security staff.
Visitors should wear clothing that enhances a family atmosphere. Please wear: complete attire with appropriate undergarments; comfortable footwear (bare feet are not allowed) and weather appropriate attire when necessary. Inappropriate clothing will result in you being denied entry into the facility. Make sure you understand the dress code for visitors. It helps to have a change of clothes with you if you are not sure.
See-through (sheer) clothing, bare midriffs or backs.
Plunging necklines, short shorts or athletic shorts, low tops or backless tops or dresses.
Shorts or skirts shorter than mid-thigh length are not allowed.
Attire displaying obscene/offensive, derogatory language or drawings; or promoting illegal activity.
If in doubt, you should not wear a questionable item of clothing. Under no circumstances will a visitor be allowed into the facility dressed inappropriately.
Please be advised, if your bra makes the metal detector go off, you will have to take it off and/or be searched by an officer. (See policy regarding searches).
If you wear many hair pins and the metal detector goes off because of them, you will be told that you have to take them out of your hair in order to visit. It is easier to do your hair another way.
Be aware that some head wraps may have to come off in order for you to pass through the metal detector successfully.
Many kinds of jewelry make the detector go off. It is easier to remove anything questionable and carry it with you in the processing area. Put it back on later.
Zippers, metal studs, and decorations can make the detector go off. If this happens, you may be asked to go into the bathroom, take off the clothing, put on an alternative article of clothing provided by the Department and kept there for those purposes, and go through the detector again until you make it through successfully. It is best to wear simple clothing so that you can become accustomed to the procedures at the correctional facility.
Visitors who appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, will not be admitted inside a correctional facility.
Funds for deposit to an inmate’s account may be left before a visit, or they may be sent through the mail by check or money order. Money left at the visiting desk is limited to $50.00 per inmate per day. Checks or money orders must be made payable to the name under which the inmate is committed. It is also recommended that the inmate’s department identification number (DIN) be included on the check / money order. It is best to keep your receipts for your records.
Cross visiting is the participation of two inmates in a visit with one or more visitors. Cross visiting is permitted with the approval of the Superintendent, and, in the cases of immediate family members, is to be encouraged. Inmates wishing to cross visit must submit requests to their respective Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at least one month prior to the proposed visit.
Only persons who are on both inmates’ visiting records may participate in cross visits.
Cross visiting may be limited when necessary in order to accommodate all visitors.
When a cross visit is taking place the two inmates may participate in a common photograph.
Objectionable behavior may result in termination of a visit. Such behavior may include, but is not limited to: loud, abusive, or boisterous actions, disruptive or argumentative behavior, unacceptable physical contact or conduct. While visiting, use good judgment and discretion in dress and behavior so as not to offend others in the visiting room. You may be tempted to try to have more physical contact than what is allowed. This is upsetting to other visitors who have children with them, and can cause your relative or friend to be issued a misbehavior report, as well as your visiting privileges suspended.
Families with Special Needs
Accommodations: Procedures for acquiring reasonable accommodations are available at each general confinement facility.
Wheelchairs: For those visitors who require the use of a wheelchair, facilities have made provisions which allow reasonable accessibility.
Special Events Visits
Each general confinement facility schedules “Special Events Programs” designed to celebrate cultural, religious, and ethnic affiliations. They also recognize individual and group achievements, and strengthen community and family ties. Under most circumstances, an inmate’s guest will only be allowed to participate if he or she has visited the inmate at least twice in a New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision facility during the current incarceration. An exception may be made for an inmate’s legal child, less than 18 years of age, who has not previously visited, provided that the child is accompanied by an adult visitor who has met the previous visiting requirement.
Legal Visits: For inmates and their legal representatives.
Outside Hospital Visits: For inmates in outside community hospitals.
Facility Hospital Visits: For inmates
Visitor sanctions apply at all DOCCS correctional facilities and for all incarcerated inmates visited. If a visit is terminated, visiting privileges may be suspended for up to one week until the Superintendent makes a decision reinstating, limiting, suspending, or indefinitely suspending the visitor’s visiting privileges.
Many categories of serious visitor misconduct now include as the maximum penalty imposition of an “Indefinite Suspension” of visiting privileges. An indefinite suspension of visiting privileges has no predetermined end date, but instead the visitor may request that the Superintendent of the facility housing the inmate to be visited review the matter on an annual basis for possible restoration of visiting privileges.
An inmate found guilty of misconduct before, during or after the visitation process, may have his or her visiting privileges suspended. Certain types of misconduct, such as smuggling contraband, or sexual misconduct when other visitors are in the area, can result in a loss of visits with all visitors.
An inmate found guilty of drug related charges under any circumstances, can lose visiting privileges with all visitors for 6 months for a first offense or 1 year for a second or subsequent offense.