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Visiting Applications and Rules for Visiting Inmates in Virginia

Keeping in touch with your inmate can be a challenge.  While sending letters and photos is a great way to stay in contact with an offender, there is no substitute for visiting.  A visitation offers unique contact for offenders and provides vital social interactions.  Recent studies have shown that inmates who receive more visits are more likely to successfully reintegrate with society and reduce the recidivism rate.  Many people can feel overwhelmed and confused about the process of visiting a prison.  To make it easier for everyone we have assembled the most important information you need to know about visiting offenders in Virginia.

  • Anyone wishing to visit an inmate in Virginia must start by filling out an online visitors application.
  • A visitor application expires 36 months after it is approved.  Visitors should submit an updated application at least thirty days in advance of their old application expiring.
  • Virginia inmate visitor applications take approximately 30 days to be processed but can take as long as 90 days for out of state visitors.
  • The status of your application will be updated online and you can opt to receive notice of your application status by letter or e-mail.
  • Once approved you can visit an inmate during the approved hours (which vary depending on the facility) on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
  • All visitors must bring valid photo identification with them, such as a driver's license, state ID, military ID or passport.  The information on the ID such as the address and name must match the visitor's application on file.  Report changes in address immediately to the facility for your application to be updated.
  • Visitors should always contact the facility prior to visiting to ensure that visitation has not been changed or canceled.
  • All visitors are searched and are required to pass through a metal detector.  Your car may also be searched once it is on the property of the institution, and the facility may utilize canines to aid in their search for contraband.

Additional information you need to know when visiting inmates in Virginia:

  • If you appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol you will not be allowed to visit.
  • Cell phones, pagers, recording devices, cameras, music devices and electronics of any kind are not allowed to enter into the visitation area.  Leave these items in your car.
  • Tobacco and tobacco-related products such as lighters and matches are also not allowed in a correctional facility.
  • If you are visiting with an infant or small child you may be allowed to bring additional items with you to visiting.  Contact the facility at the telephone number provided for the exact items allowed.
  • Depending on their security level, Virginia inmates will have access to video visitation.  Video visitation costs $15 for thirty minutes, and $30 for sixty minutes of visitation.  For more information on video-visitation visit the Virginia Department of Corrections website here.
  • The Virginia Department of Corrections offers the opportunity for family or friends of offenders to meet remotely through a Video Visitation Program.
  • Video Visitation makes it easier for some visitors to meet with their incarcerated family or friends without having to invest the time and money in traveling long distances.
  • First, an offender must be eligible for video visitation by meeting the following corresponding standard based upon their assigned security level.
  • Security Levels 1, 2, or 3: no restrictions
  • Security Levels 4 and 5: offender must be 6 months infraction free
  • Red Onion
    • Progressive housing: offender must 6 months infraction free
    • Segregation: offender must be 12 months infraction free
  • If the offender is eligible, the following steps must then be followed:

    • The offender has to initiate the visitation process established by the prison. The offender fills out an application packet and mails it to his family or friend.
    • The family or friend has to mail the application with the fee to the appropriate Visitor Center on the list below.
    • The Visitor Center sends the name of the visitor back to the facility to ensure accurate information and to schedule the video visitation's date and time.
    • The prison confirms the information.
    • The Visitor Center contacts the family or friend and confirms the date and time of the visit.

Dress Code and Rules for Visitors of Virginia Prisons

Prisons in Virginia require that all visitors (including children) follow a dress code.  The dress code is strictly enforced and failure to adhere to it will result in a denial of visitation.  Because it is up to the staff members to interpret and enforce the dress code we suggest you always bring a change of clothes with you and leave them in your car, even if you have worn the same clothes to a prior visiting session with no problem.  This will ensure you can quickly change if an article of clothing you are wearing is deemed to violate the dress code.

  • In general, your clothing should cover from the base of your neck to your kneecaps.
  • Clothing that exposes cleavage, shoulders, your back, sides, midriff, or thighs is prohibited.
  • Clothing that is tight such as leotards, spandex, leggings, tube tops, or tank tops is not allowed.
  • Clothing that is sheer, transparent, see-through, or has holes, rips, or tears is prohibited.
  • Clothing that closely resembles the inmate's clothes or the staff's clothes (in color or appearance) is not allowed.
  • Uniforms such as military or doctors/nurse scrubs are restricted from being worn.
  • Any items that cover the face including hats, bandanas, sunglasses etc. are not allowed to be worn.
  • Skirts, shorts, skorts, and dresses must come below the kneecap.
  • Clothing that contains offensive language or images is not allowed.