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NOTE: Visiting is conducted on a walk-in basis upon approval of a CDCR 106 Visiting Questionnaire form (first come, first served). Only approved visitors are allowed on Facility grounds. Visitors entering the Facility grounds are subject to search of their person, vehicle and/or property. The last visitor will be processed at 2:00 PM. Terminations for overcrowding will be conducted in the same manner (first come, first to be terminated). Visiting programs may be modified, terminated or suspended without notice due to institutional security needs.
The Visitor Processing Appointment Scheduling System, known as VPASS , is an online application offered as a service to help expedite the visitation scheduling process. Approved visitors may access VPASS to schedule an appointment one week in advance. Between 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. The system will also allow the visitors to receive information about any changes to visitation via email or on the VPASS home pages. Visitors with an appointment will have precedence. Visitors who do not have an appointment may walk-in after scheduled appointment processing concludes at 12:15 or as may be available between the processing of scheduled visitors. Visitors should not arrive on the institutional grounds more than 30 minutes prior to their scheduled appointment time.
Prisoner’s Eligibility to Visit and Types of Visits
All prisoners are eligible to receive visits unless they have temporarily lost that privilege due to disciplinary action. There are, however, different types of visits.
Most prisoners are in the general population and may receive contact visits. Contact visits allow the prisoner to sit together with his/her visitors and have limited physical contact with them (a brief kiss and/or hug at beginning and end of visit, hold hands during the visit). These visits occur in a large visiting room, usually furnished with tables and chairs and usually shared with many other prisoners and visitors. Contact visits are restricted to five visitors at a time. Contact visits are not limited in duration except for normal visiting hours or terminations caused by overcrowding to allow other visits to begin.
Prisoners who are still in reception (recently admitted to CDCR or transferred between prisons) or who are segregated (i.e., Administrative Segregation, Security Housing Units, Adjustment Centers, pending specific rules violation report charges, or assigned to Behavior Management Units) are restricted to non-contact visits. Non-contact visits occur with a glass partition between the prisoner and his/her visitors. The prisoner is escorted in handcuffs by staff to the visit. The handcuffs are removed only after the prisoner is secured in his/her side of the visiting booth; thus, parents who do not wish to have children see the prisoner in restraints should wait away from the booth or glass partition until the prisoner is settled. Non-contact visits are restricted to three visitors and are limited in time (usually one to two hours, depending on the prison and the reason for the non-contact status of visits).
Prisoners on Death Row, often referred to as “condemned” prisoners, are housed either at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County (men) or at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla (women). “Condemned Grade A” prisoners on Death Row may receive contact visits (meaning no partition between prisoner and his/her visitor) unless their visiting privileges have been restricted for disciplinary or security reasons. “Condemned Grade B” prisoners on Death Row may only receive non-contact visits. All Condemned visits are in a secured booth and involve the prisoner being escorted to visiting in handcuffs. Visits for all prisoners on Death Row are limited in time (usually one to two hours).
Some prisoners are eligible for “family visits.” These visits occur in private, apartment-like facilities on prison grounds and last approximately 30 to 40 hours. Prisoners on Death Row, with life sentences, with convictions for sex offenses, or under disciplinary restrictions are not eligible for family visits. Family visits are restricted to approved visitors who are immediate family members (parents, children, siblings, legal spouses, or registered domestic partners) of the prisoner. Family visits are further restricted by availability; usually one visit every three to five months. An eligible prisoner must put in an application for a family visit with his assigned Correctional Counselor I at the prison. This handbook focuses on regular (weekend and holiday) visiting and not on family visiting. Further inquiry about family visiting should be directed by the prisoner to his/her counselor or by the family to visiting staff.
In addition to the types of visits available, there are other factors which may restrict a prisoner’s eligibility to visit. Some of these factors require the visitor to check with the prisoner about his/her particular circumstances, while other factors require the visitor to check with the prison. Such factors include: The prisoner’s work or school hours: Generally a prisoner may not visit during the hours he/she is assigned to a job or to school. Under limited circumstances, a prisoner may obtain permission to visit during work or school hours, but such circumstances are generally limited to family visits, a rare visit (visitor has not visited in more than six months), an emergency visit (death or serious illness of family member), or excessive distance (visitor comes from more than 250 miles and has not visited in the last 30 days). The prisoner must obtain prior written approval to visit during work or school hours by seeking Excused Time Off (ETO) from his/her supervisor. The prisoner’s criminal history: Some prisoners may have restrictions to visit with minors based on their convictions. If the prisoner you wish to visit has been convicted of a criminal offense involving a minor, you should check with him/her if you plan to bring children (even if the children are the prisoner’s children) to visit. Medical quarantines: Sometimes part or all of a prison is quarantined to control the spread of a contagious disease. When that occurs, visiting is not allowed for any prisoners housed in areas under quarantine. The 800 Visitors’ Information number (800-374-8474) will advise a visitor whether there is a medical quarantine and which parts of the prison are affected. Lockdowns or Modified Program: Prisons are often placed on “lockdowns” or “modified programs” in response to threats to the safety of staff and prisoners or the security of the institution. These “modified programs” may be restricted to specific groups of prisoners, areas of the institution, or in the case of a lockdown, are applied to all prisoners in all area of the institution. The 800 Visitors’ Information number, noted in the preceding, will provide information regarding lockdowns and modified programs and which prisoners are restricted from visiting as a result. Since both lockdowns and medical quarantines can occur with very limited notice, it is wise to check the Visitors’ Information number just before leaving for a visit. Hospitalized Prisoners: When a prisoner is seriously ill or injured, he/she may be hospitalized, in either a prison hospital or a community hospital. Visits with hospitalized prisoners are only considered for prisoners having life threatening or critical injuries or illnesses. These special visits are restricted to immediate family members with current approval to visit at the institution. Requests to visit at a community hospital must be approved by the Warden and attending physician. Visitors should make requests to visit by contacting the Warden’s office.
Identification Required for Visiting All adults must present identification when being processed to visit. Acceptable forms of identification must be valid and current (not expired) and include:
• A driver’s license (from any state) with photo;
• A Department of Motor Vehicle identification card (from any state) with photo;
• An armed forces identification card with photo;
• A United States Department of Justice Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) identification card;
• A United States passport with photo or a foreign passport with photo; or
Minors (children under 18 years old) are required to be accompanied by an adult who is an approved visitor. If the minor child(ren) is accompanied by his/her parent, the only paperwork necessary is a certified copy of the minor child(ren)’s birth certificate. If the minor is accompanied by his/her legal guardian, a certified copy of the minor child(ren)’s birth certificate and proof of legal guardianship is required. If the minor child(ren) is accompanied by someone other than his/her parent or legal guardian, in addition to the certified copy of the minor child(ren)’s birth certificate, the adult must also bring a notarized written consent authorization form (see Attachment 2) signed by the minor child(ren)’s parent or legal guardian expressly giving permission for the minor child(ren) to visit a prisoner. The written consent authorization form must include the name of the prisoner the minor child(ren) is allowed to visit, the name of the person who is authorized to Visiting A Friend or Loved One In Prison 6 bring the minor child(ren) into the prison, and the date(s) of the proposed visit(s). The notarization must be on the original written consent authorization form and cannot be attached to it. The written consent authorization form to bring in a minor child(ren) must be updated each year.
G. Attire Restrictions There are restrictions on what you may wear to a prison. In general, there are four rules to remember:
1. Do not wear clothing that resembles the clothing that prisoners wear a. Blue denim pants; b. Blue chambray shirts; c. Orange jumpsuits or Orange tops with Orange bottoms; d. Red tops (Pleasant Valley State Prison only); or e. Dresses that resemble prisoner muumuu (female institutions only)
2. Do not wear clothing that resembles what custodial staff wears
a. Forest green pants;
b. Tan shirts; or
3. Dress conservatively and modestly; and 4. Do not wear any item that cannot be taken off and will not clear a metal detector (such as an underwire bra or clothing with metal buttons). There are specific restrictions:
• No blue denim, blue chambray, orange jumpsuits or orange tops with orange bottoms;
• No forest green bottoms with tan tops;
• No camouflage unless identification shows active or reserve military personnel;
• No strapless, halter, bare midriff, sheer, or transparent clothing;
• No skirts, dresses, or shorts that expose more than two inches above the knee;
• No clothing that exposes the breast, genitalia, or buttocks area;
• No very tight, form-fitting attire;
• No wigs, hairpieces, extensions, or other headpieces except for medical reasons and with prior approval;
• No hats or gloves, except with prior approval or in inclement weather; and
• No shower shoes
7 Prisons sometimes have their own local rules regarding visiting attire that is deemed unacceptable (i.e., “excess” jewelry, layered outfits, shoes without straps around the heel). It is wise to check with your local institution prior to your visit. Most prisons have a Visitor Center that will lend you used but clean clothing if the clothing you wore is rejected by staff. The funding for these Visitor Centers is not always secure and thus the centers may not always be open. For these reasons, it is good practice to bring an extra set of clothing in the car in case you need to change. If an officer tells you that your clothing is unacceptable but you feel that you have complied with the rules and your clothing is acceptable, you may ask to speak with the Visiting Sergeant or Lieutenant, who will make the decision about your clothing. Although a minor must clear the metal detector, children under 36 inches are not subject to the restrictions related to colors of clothing or types of material.
H. Items a Visitor May Bring Visitors are strictly limited in the items they may bring into the prison. Items allowed without prior approval are limited to the following:
• A $50 limit per adult and $20 limit per minor; only as dollar bills, dollar coins and quarters (change machines are usually available but they may be out of order or out of change);
• A small (generally 6” by 8”) clear, plastic purse or bag;
• Two keys on a ring with no other attachments. One key may be an electronic car keys;
• Identification (as previously specified);
• A comb or brush; non-metallic, no pointed end or detachable parts;
• A small unopened pack of tissues or a handkerchief; no bandannas;
• A pair of prescription glasses;
• Ten Photographs, no larger than 8” by 10”; photos may be shown to the prisoner, but must be taken out by the visitor at the end of the visit; photos cannot be Polaroid and may not include any sexual or gang images; photos will be viewed by staff during processing;
• Documents up to 10 pages, no larger than 8-1/2” by 11” (standard size typing paper); usually such documents will be either papers for the prisoner’s signature (for example, tax forms), information to share with the prisoner (for example, pages showing classes available through a correspondence course), or family papers (for example, a child’s report card, certificate of achievement, or drawing), but they can be anything that can be sent to the prisoner through the mail. Documents will be viewed and read by staff during processing and must be taken out by the visitor at the end of the visit;
• The following baby items are allowed when bringing in an infant or toddler: any combination of two factory-sealed single serving size, ready to feed Visiting A Friend or Loved One In Prison 8 bottles of baby formula or two transparent plastic baby bottles either empty or containing pre-mixed formula/milk/juice/water; three non-glass containers of baby food in sealed packaging; one plastic spoon; six disposable diapers; one sealed package of baby wipes; one change of clothing; one small blanket; two searchable small toys; one transparent pacifier; one burp cloth; baby carrier; and clear plastic diaper bag (12” by 20”);
• Inclement weather gear that may include hoods, raincoats, hats, scarves, and gloves during the winter or sun hats during the summer. [Note: Prisons still vary on inclement weather gear; it is recommended you check prior to your visit.]
I. Medical Items Allowed
If you have a need to bring in items relating to a medical condition, you must have documentation from your doctor as to its need. The documentation must include the doctor’s name, address, telephone number, and medical license number and must be updated every two years. With such verification as to its medical necessity, the following are allowed:
• Prescription medications that are life-sustaining or condition-stabilizing, such as inhalers or nitroglycerin; medications must be in the original pharmacy container with the patient’s name, the pharmacy name, and the doctor’s name, as well as the medication’s name. Quantities of medication are limited to what may be needed during the visit.
• Mobility devices such as canes, crutches, and wheelchairs; some prisons do not allow personal canes, crutches, or wheelchairs to be taken into visiting but require the visitor to exchange his/her personal device for a prison-issue device and then exchange back after the visit.
• Hats with documentation that they are medically necessary.
• Seat cushions or backs with documentation that they are medically necessary.
• If you have an implant or prosthetic device that includes metal and will set off the metal detector, you must have documentation from a doctor specifying the nature and location of the implant or device. With such documentation, staff will use a wand to sweep your body instead of the metal detector to ensure security.
J. Religious Items or Clothing If your religion requires you to wear a certain type of clothing that would otherwise be unacceptable by operating procedures, such as Muslim headdress or Catholic habits, you will be allowed to wear the clothing; however, you may be required to remove it for inspection in a private location with an officer of the same gender present before you are allowed into the visiting room. Most visiting rooms have copies of the Bible, the Koran, and the Torah. If you wish to bring in the bible of your faith because a copy is not present in the visiting room, ask the Visiting Sergeant or Lieutenant for permission.
CDCR - Rules by Type
Arrival for Visiting
A. Many prisons restrict how early a visitor may drive onto prison grounds for a visit; usually about an hour before the start of visiting hours. Some visitors will arrive before that time and line up in their cars directly outside the prison gates. As some prisons are directly off freeways, highways, or other very busy roadways, that can be potentially dangerous and, sometimes, in violation of traffic laws. All visitors should be very careful in parking outside the gates; and when driving on grounds be courteous and respectful of others as well as obeying all traffic laws. Visitors found to be in violation of traffic laws may be subject to warnings, termination, or suspension of visits.
B. Car Searches Most prisons do not have staff at the gate, so visitors are free to drive onto grounds and to the visitor parking lot at the allowed time. Only a few prisons have staff at the gate. At those prisons, staff distributes visiting passes to be filled out by visitors for processing. Staff may conduct a visual inspection of the vehicle, including the trunk, and may also utilize “drug dogs” (Narcotic Detection K-9’s) to assist them by sniffing for drugs around the outside of the car. All visitors should understand that it is a felony to bring any weapons or any illegal drugs onto prison grounds, and will typically result in loss of visits and prosecution. A visual inspection of the interior of your car from outside of the car is allowed anytime you drive onto or off of prison grounds or when you are parked on prison grounds. Additionally, a visual inspection of your trunk is allowed when driving onto or off of grounds. Any further inspection of the interior of your vehicle requires your consent, a search warrant, or reasonable suspicion of a visitor attempting to introduce or remove contraband or unauthorized items.
C. Parking All prisons have parking available for visitors, in a parking lot separate from the parking lot for staff. Visitors should take care to park in the appropriate places. Most prisons have adequate parking for all visitors, but the parking may require a fairly long walk to the processing center or the boarding of a prison van or bus to be driven to the processing center. Parking for disabled visitors is provided in speciallymarked places. All visitors should be careful for themselves and their children in walking through the parking lot, as often there is substantial moving traffic. Visitors should walk from their cars to the line, as running on prison grounds is not allowed and may be perceived as an emergency.
D. Waiting There will be a wait from the time you arrive at a prison to the time you are processed to visit. Typical wait times for processing are not excessive. However, on occasion may be as long as two hours, depending on the number of visitors, the time of day, and conditions of processing (including the size of the processing center, the number of staff, and the speed of processing). The wait times are usually longer first thing in the morning, when many visitors arrive all at the same time. The conditions under which visitors must wait depend on the particular prison, but visitors should be cautioned that the wait may be without shelter (even in the rain, snow, or strong heat), may be without bathrooms, and may be in an area with traffic hazards or restricted movement (including not allowing children to move around). As noted previously, there are Visitor Centers at most of the prisons, and those Centers provide bathrooms, shelter, and activities for children. At a few prisons, visitors are given numbered passes either when they drive onto grounds or once they are parked and get in line. If you have a numbered pass, that will secure your place in line while you go to the Visitor Center; however, since most prisons do not hand out numbered passes, going to the Visitor Center will require the visitor to go to the end of the line when he/she returns to the line. Some prisons require scheduled appointments for visitors during the first two to four hours of visiting. At these prisons, visitors without appointments will be processed on a first-come, first-in-line, first served basis; but not until all visitors with appointments have been processed. Appointments can be made either by e-mail and/or telephone, but only during specified hours. The 800 Visitors’ Information number and the CDCR website will have information regarding whether the prison you are visiting requires appointments and how to make an appointment.
Processing of Visitors
A. Processing Times - The processing of visitors and the movement of the line begins at the time posted for visiting to begin. Processing continues until an hour before the time posted for visiting to end. Processing of visitors may be suspended at times due to staffing issues or a temporary emergency. Delays in visitor processing cannot be predicted, and last only as long as necessary to manage the issue(s) causing the delay.
B. Passes and Computer Checks - Every adult visitor must fill out a pass each time he/she visits. The pass calls for the prisoner’s name and CDCR number, the relationship of the visitor to the prisoner (spouse, mother, friend, etc.), the visitor’s name and address, and the visitor’s signature. If the adult visitor is bringing in minor children, he/she lists the names of the children on the pass. The completed pass is submitted to staff. Using a computer, staff checks the prisoner’s file to make sure the visitor is an approved visitor and that the prisoner is eligible to visit on that day. Staff marks the pass with the prisoner’s housing and notes whether the visit is contact or non-contact. The pass, along with the visitor’s identification, is the visitor’s “key” to get into and out of the prison. Although the pass and identification may be held by staff once the visitor gets to the visiting room, it will be returned to the visitor upon leaving the visiting room.
C. Searches of Visitors - It is a felony for anyone to attempt to bring into the prison any drugs or weapons. It is against prison rules, and sometimes is a criminal offense for which one can be prosecuted, for anyone to attempt to bring in any item not allowed by the prison. Visitors are required to follow all rules, regulations, and laws while on institution grounds. To ensure that prohibited items are not allowed into the prison, all visitors and their possessions are searched before the visitor is allowed to visit. Visitors must remove all outer clothing (jackets, sweaters, etc.), shoes, and any jewelry that will set off the metal detector. Those items are placed along with other allowable items (money, comb, baby items, etc.) on either a conveyor belt for an x-ray search or on a counter for a manual search by staff. The visitor, including all minors, must clear a metal detector. If a visitor has an implant or a prosthesis that prevents him/her from clearing a metal detector or if he/she cannot go through a metal detector (because, for example, he/she cannot get out of his/her wheelchair), staff will use a hand-held metal-detector on the visitor as long as the visitor has presented a letter from a medical doctor verifying the location of the implant or prosthesis.
Visitors who, for religious reasons, cannot remove all outer clothing (such as scarves, burkas, yamakas, etc.) will be taken to a private room where they can remove the item and staff of the same gender will use a wand to search. Visitors with devices to assist their mobility (wheelchairs, canes, etc.) may be required to exchange their device for a prison-issued device and exchange back as they leave the prison. Children are subject to the same searches. A child too young to walk through a metal detector alone may be carried through the metal detector by the adult visitor escorting the child in.
Any search beyond the searching of belongings and the clearing of the metal detector is allowed only if there is cause to believe the visitor is attempting to bring a prohibited item into the prison. If such cause exists, the visitor must be advised, in writing, of the reason for the search and the name of the prison official ordering the search. The visitor has a right to refuse the search, but the refusal will result in the visitor not being allowed to visit for the day; and may result in future visits being conditioned upon a search greater than the usual search of belongings, and clearing a metal detector, for as long as staff has cause to believe the visitor is attempting to bring in a prohibited item.
Visitors may not be searched without their consent unless there is a warrant that requires such a search or unless the visitor is being detained for arrest for unlawful actions that present an immediate and significant threat to prison security. Actions which do not present an immediate and significant threat to prison security but are nonetheless unlawful, may result in the visitor being detained or escorted off prison grounds and prison officials referring the matter to local law enforcement, but may not result in a request of the visitor to submit to search by prison staff.
After clearing the metal detector, staff will stamp the back of one of the visitor’s hands with an ultraviolet ink stamp. At most prisons, visitors are required to put their hands under an ultraviolet light and show the stamp as they exit the visiting room and/or prison
D. Getting to the Visiting Room Most prisons have more than one visiting room. Staff will write which visiting room the visitor is to go to on the pass. At most prisons, visitors walk from the processing center to the visiting room; but at some prisons, visitors must wait for a prison bus or van to take them from the processing center to the visiting room.
In the Visiting Room
A. Turning in Pass and Awaiting Prisoner’s Arrival Upon arrival to the visiting room, the visitor turns in the pass to staff. At some prisons, the visitor also surrenders his/her identification to staff; at other prisons, the visitor must show his/her identification but otherwise holds onto it during the visit. Staff then uses the information on the pass to call the housing unit and advise the prisoner that he/she has a visit and should come to the visiting room. Usually it should not take more than twenty minutes for a prisoner to get to the visiting room after staff has called. That period can be longer due to factors such as the need for an escort, the readiness of the prisoner for his/her visit, or unforeseen lockdowns, incidents on the yard, or quarantines. If a visitor has been waiting more than 30 minutes, he/she should ask staff about the delay. Staff will typically know whether the delay is a prison-related issue and advise the visitor; if it is not, the visitor should ask staff to call again for the prisoner. (When visiting room staff calls the housing unit for the prisoner, it becomes the responsibility of housing unit staff to advise the prisoner. Sometimes housing unit staff are diverted by other responsibilities and forget to advise the prisoner, so it is important to inquire if you have been waiting for more than 30 minutes.) Prisons count their prisoner population at certain times during the day. Movement of prisoners is frozen during those periods, and no prisoner will be released to the visiting room. The only count that is likely to interfere with visiting during the weekend hours is the Close Custody Count which prevents prisoners from going to the visiting from about 11:15 a.m. until the count is cleared around 12:45 p.m. The prisoner you are going to see will be able to tell you whether he/she is close custody and what time the “close custody” count is on Saturday and Sunday. If you arrive in the visiting room during a count period, you will be required to wait for the prisoner’s arrival until count has cleared (meaning that the prison has accounted for all the prisoners being counted), a period that can last more than an hour.
B. Seating All prison visiting rooms have chairs set up for prisoners and their visitors to use while visiting. Most prison visiting rooms also have small tables, usually about 24 inches square and no more than 18 inches high. (A limited number of larger, taller tables are available for disabled prisoners or disabled visitors.) At some prisons, staff assigns the visitors to a specific table and/or chairs; at other prisons, the visitors are allowed to choose where they wish to sit.
Prisoners and visitors are subject to continuous surveillance. Most prison visiting rooms have surveillance cameras. All visiting rooms are staffed by several correctional officers. There is usually a podium or control booth where at least one officer will sit; others will walk throughout the room. Prisoners are usually required to sit facing the podium or control booth. Visitors are usually allowed to sit facing any direction, but some prisons may have restrictions for visitor seating as well.
Many visiting rooms have adjoining patios that prisoners and their visitors may use. The patios may have some grass, some play equipment for small children, and some furniture (benches, chairs, tables). The patios may be available for use during all visiting hours or only at restricted times.
Some visiting rooms have an area set aside for small children. The area is usually relatively small (about the size of a typical bedroom) and has toys, games, and books for the children. Children must be supervised at all times while on prison grounds by the adult who has accompanied them to the prison, including whenever the children are in the play area. Failure to adequately supervise children can result in the termination of the visit, but it can also result in a lack of safety for the children, so visitors should be diligent about supervision and not allow other adults (prisoners or other visitors) to supervise their children. No adults (neither prisoners nor visitors) are allowed in the play area except when supervising their children.
C. Contact Between Prisoners and Visitors Prisoners and their visitors are allowed to briefly kiss and/or hug at the beginning and the end of visits. The only physical contact allowed between prisoners and their adult visitors at other times is holding hands. Prisoners may also hold minor children whom they are visiting.
Physical contact between a prisoner and visitor beyond that described previously, is considered “excessive” and can be cause for staff to terminate the visit and, in some cases, to either suspend the visiting privileges of the visitor for some period and/or to discipline the prisoner. Although most staff will use common sense and not overreact to transitory non-sexual touching (a prisoner physically guiding his/ her wife/husband away from an obstacle as they walk, a mother brushing dirt off a prisoner’s shirt), behaviors such as feeding each other, touching each other’s faces, adjusting each other’s clothing, and the like should be avoided.
D. Food, Photographs, and Games Visiting rooms have vending machines stocked with food and beverages for purchase by visitors and consumption by visitors and prisoners. A visitor may not bring any food or beverage from the outside into the prison and cannot take out any food or beverage bought at the prison when he/she leaves. Vending machines usually have sodas, water, sandwiches (including burgers), and burritos, popcorn, candy, pastries, and coffee. At some prisons, vending machines may also include fresh fruits and vegetables. The prices will vary for such items but usually are about a dollar for a can of soda or bag of popcorn and three to four dollars for a sandwich. The visiting room has microwave ovens for the heating of frozen items.
Although at most prisons the prisoners are allowed to go to the vending machines with their visitors in order to select the food items they want, no prison allows the prisoners to touch either the money or the vending machines. A prisoner who handles money is subject to having his/her visit terminated and may be disciplined.
Most prisons provide limited board and card games for prisoners and their visitors to play together. These may include Scrabble, Dominoes, Uno, Checkers, Chess, and other like games. Most prisons also have children books that prisoners can read to their minor visitors as well as religious materials from most major religions (the Bible, the Torah, the Koran). Prison visiting rooms have digital cameras available for photographs of prisoners and/or their visitors to be taken. There is a cost for the photographs, usually two dollars for each photograph. At some prisons, the visitor purchases a “ticket” for the photograph either from staff in the processing center or from a vending machine in the processing center or in the visiting room. At other prisons, the prisoner is required to purchase the photo ticket from the canteen. Either staff or a prisoner who works in the visiting room takes and prints the photograph and it is given to the prisoner during the course of the visit. Either the prisoner may keep the photo (taking it back with him/her after his/her visit) or the visitor may take the photo.
E. Rules and Violations Per the Department Operations Manual, Section 54020.29.1 - Suspension or Exclusion of Visitors from the Visiting Program, it states, “Visitors violating a policy, regulation, or law are subject to denial, suspension, or revocation of a visit in progress or exclusion from the visiting program in accordance with California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Subsections 3176 - 3176.3.”
All visitors should also be aware that CDCR is prohibited from recognizing hostages for bargaining to affect an escape by inmates or for any other reason(s). In addition, the prison may be surrounded by an electric fence. To protect visitors, especially children, from being injured, visitors are cautioned to stay away from the perimeter fence line. It is a felony for a former inmate or parolee/probationer to be on the grounds of any prison for any reason without prior written approval from the Warden of that institution. Persons discharged from parole must provide proof of discharge along with the Warden’s written permission to visit.
You should behave as a reasonable person would behave in a public place (for example, staying fully clothed at all times, not verbally or physically fighting with others, not being defiant to staff.) Prisoners and visitors are subject to having their visits terminated and/or suspended for rule violations and prisoners may also be disciplined for violations. Serious rule violations (for example, bringing drugs or weapons to the prison or engaging in sexual contact in the visiting room) can result in terminations, suspensions, and discipline even without warning. Less serious rule violations will usually, although not always, result in warnings first and termination, suspension, or discipline only upon a repeat violation.
A visitor whose visit is terminated or whose future visits are suspended, must be given written notice of the violation, the reason for the termination or suspension, and the name of the person authorizing the action. The visitor may appeal the action by writing to the Warden; the Warden will respond within 15 days. If the visitor disagrees with the Warden’s response, he/she can appeal to the Director of Adult Institutions in Sacramento (address at the end of this handbook). Appeals to Sacramento are to be answered within 20 days of receipt by the Director’s Office, but may take longer due to the volume of appeals received and delays in the processing of mail. The action taken by the prison remains in effect while the appeal is pending.
A prisoner whose visits are terminated or suspended or who has been disciplined may appeal that process through the normal prisoner appeal process. Prisoners are given information about process when they first enter prison.
F. Overcrowding - Because there are limited visiting hours at prisons and the prisoner population is large, there are times when more visitors arrive to visit than the visiting room can accommodate. The prisons in very remote areas are less likely to experience this problem than those closer to more-populous areas. When the visiting room becomes overcrowded, staff will terminate some visits in order to allow waiting visitors to come in to visit. Usually, terminations will be of those prisoners and visitors who have been visiting the longest, at the time terminations become necessary, in order to make space for waiting visitors. All prisoners and visitors who have their visits terminated should receive a written termination report, indicating that the reason for the termination was overcrowding. If a visitor is not offered a termination report, he/she should ask for one.
In limited circumstances, a prisoner and/or his/her visitor may not have their visit terminated even if the visiting room becomes overcrowded. Generally, the exceptions apply to visitors who have traveled over 250 miles to get to the prison and haven’t visited in 30 or more days, to disabled visitors who must rely on specialized transportation to reach the prison, to visitors visiting due to a family emergency (such as death or serious illness), to visitors who have not visited in six or more months, and to prisoners who have married the day of the visit.
G. Leaving After a Visit - Prisoners subject to non-contact visits have time-limited visits, usually one to two hours; their visitors must leave at the end of the allotted time. Prisoners who receive contact visits are allowed to visit until either their visits are terminated or until the end of visiting. Visitors may leave a visit at any time or stay until the end of visiting. Whenever the prisoner and visitor leave, it is their responsibility to clean up the area in which they were visiting by returning any books or games and putting trash into its proper place. Prisoners and visitors who have had contact visits may again share a brief kiss and/or hug at the end of the visit.
All visitors must show (or collect) their identification and pick up their pass as they leave the visiting room. Visitors should check and make sure they have been handed the correct identification and pass by staff, as sometimes a mistake is made and is not caught until the visitor gets to the processing center requiring them to return to the visiting room to collect the correct items.
Prisoners who have had contact visits must undergo a search before they are allowed to return to their housing units. Some prisons require that the visitor remain in the visiting room until the prisoner has been searched and cleared. That process usually takes only a few minutes; but if the visitor is leaving at the end of visiting, there will be many prisoners to be searched at the same time and the wait (if the visitor is required to wait) can take much longer, up to 30 minutes. Once allowed to leave the visiting room, the visitor returns to the processing center (either by walking or by prison bus or van) and shows his/her identification and the stamp on his/her hand and surrenders his/her pass. He/she is then free to leave prison grounds.