General Visitation Information
Time of Visits
- 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
- Saturday, Sunday & State Holidays
Introduction and Summary:
It is the policy of the Georgia Department of Corrections (Department) to provide visitation programs for offenders that are conducive to the establishment and maintenance of positive relationships with family and significant others. Visitation is a privilege for offenders and should not be considered a right. Visits are to be scheduled and supervised, in strict accordance with the following procedures, which are designed to contribute to good public relations and provide a comfortable and secure visitation environment.
Immediate Family: For purposes of this SOP, a member of an offenders family that falls into one of the following relationships - parents, siblings, spouse, grandparents, grandchildren, or children
Extended Family: For purposes of this SOP, a person related to an offender beyond an immediate family member. An extended family member would be a step-parent, step-sibling, step-child, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, uncle, aunt, cousin, half-brother or half-sister, nephew, or niece.
Significant Relationship Visitor: A person having a meaningful relationship with the offender to provide support and encouragement in a rehabilitative capacity. This would include friends, employers, pastors, and other relationships that have the potential for rehabilitative support. An offender visitation list shall be limited to only two (2) visitors in this category at any given time. The term Significant Relationship does NOT imply automatic approval for visitation because of romantic involvement. Rehabilitative potential must still be established.
Next of Kin:
For purposes of this SOP, the person designated by the offender to receive their remains or the person designated to make emergency medical decisions in the event the offender is unable to make medical decisions. In the event, the offender fails to so designate, the person reasonably designated by Department staff.
The person designated, by the offender, to receive the offenders personal property and funds which are left under the custody and control of the Department in the event of the offenders death.
Sexual Offense: As used in the Code section, the term sexual offense means a violation of Code Section 16-6-1, relating to the offense of rape; Code Section 16-6- 2, relating to the offenses of sodomy and aggravated sodomy; Code Section 16-6-5.1, relating to the offense of sexual assault against a person in custody; Code Section 16- 6-22, relating to the offense of incest; or Code Section 16-6-22.2, relating to the offense of aggravated sexual battery, when the victim was under 18 years of age at the time of the commission of any such offense; or violation of Code Section 16-6-3, relating to the offense of statutory rape; Code Section 16-6-4, relating to the offense of child molestation and aggravated child molestation; or Code section 16-6-5, relating to the offense of enticing a child for indecent purposes, when the victim was under 16 years of age at the time of the commission of any such offense.
For purposes of this SOP, the word offender is meant as a generic term to encompass all offenders and probationers incarcerated at facilities or centers designated in the Applicability Section of this SOP.
For purposes of this SOP, any item or article that poses serious threat to the security of the facility. Examples of contraband include guns, knives, tools, chemicals, controlled substances, narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cellular telephones. This is not an all-inclusive list and other items may be deemed contraband.
Statement of Policy and Applicable Procedures:
A. Diagnostic Offenders Visitation:
Offenders shall not be allowed visitation during the diagnostic process. They shall provide next of kin emergency contact information only. If the diagnostic process is not complete after 60 days a list of the offenders immediate family shall be completed and reviewed for visitation approval. This list shall be used for visitation at the diagnostic facility until the offender is placed in a permanent assignment.
1. The initial approved visitation list shall be obtained, verified and approved at the first permanent placement facility consistent with the method provided for in the policy. This task shall not be a part of the diagnostic process.
B. Visitation Area:
The facility shall maintain a visitation area where offenders may have contact visits with their authorized visitors. Restroom facilities shall be provided for visitors in or adjacent to the visitation area. Each facility shall designate an area to allow mothers to breast-feed children.
Video recording of the visitation area is permitted as an added measure to ensure the safety, security and integrity of security operations during visitation periods. The video recordings for visitation should be reviewed by the Deputy Warden of Security or Assistant Superintendent or Chief of Security by the end of the first business day following the visitation period. The Warden or Superintendent shall be notified immediately if anything unusual or outside the parameters of this standard operating procedure or any other applicable standard operating procedures has occurred. If an investigation results from violations observed on the video recordings, then the video recording shall not be reused until complete resolution of the investigation. Any videotapes that have been reviewed and do not reveal any unusual circumstances or security value may be reused after a period of sixty days.
C. Visitation Schedule:
- A minimum of six (6) hours shall be allotted each day for visitation periods on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
- a. State facilities shall observe days proclaimed by the Governor of Georgia as legal state holidays.
b. County institutions shall observe legal holidays that are recognized by their local governing authority. c. Private Prisons shall observe days proclaimed by the Governor of Georgia as legal state holidays.
- A Warden or Superintendent may request that the Field Operations Manager or their designee authorize modifications of the visitation days or hours for their facility if justified by special circumstances (i.e. small offender population, low or high usage of privileges, infirm offenders, etc.). If an exception is approved in writing, the Warden or Superintendent shall make sure that all offenders are informed and that the offenders advise their potential visitors.
- Normally, there shall be no restrictions placed on the length of visits during the facilitys established visitation periods. However:
a. In order to have the offender in the visitation area during the mid-day Count, visitors must arrive at the facility one (1) hour prior to the time that is designated by the Warden or Superintendent as the mid-day count. The mid-day count time shall be posted in all living areas and in the visitation area. All offenders shall be advised of this condition in writing as well as advised when the facility orientation is conducted for new offenders.
b. The shift supervisor has the authority to adjust the length of visitation times allotted to individual offenders, or to terminate visits, during times of overcrowding.
c. The shift supervisor may also terminate individual visits because of improper conduct or failure to abide by procedures. An Incident Report shall be completed documenting the reason(s) for the termination of the visit.
d. If an offender has more than one visitor on a given day, individual visitors may be limited to a time of less than four (4) hours.
e. If overcrowding requires the termination of visits, offenders who began their visits first shall normally be the first to have their visits terminated. However, such factors as relationships, frequency of visits, distance traveled, etc. shall be taken into consideration.
- Each offender may receive the same visitor(s) during all visitation periods, providing there is sufficient time and space. However, if time and space do not allow adequate visitation for all offenders, individual visitors may be restricted to only one visitation period per weekend or weekend and holiday combination.
- Visitation of offenders under medical care shall be governed by good medical practices and procedures.
- Protective Custody, Administrative Segregation, and Tier I offenders shall in general have the same rights to visitation as general population offenders unless this is not feasible. Non-feasibility must be documented. An example would include offenders with documented assaultive and destructive behavior.
- Offenders who have documented protective custody needs may be required to visit at times when other potentially threatening offenders are not in the visitation area. The Warden or Superintendent may take into consideration the offenders institutional conduct when making the decision to approve or disapprove that visit.
- Offenders in Disciplinary Isolation shall receive no visitation in accordance with SOP (209.03) IIB02-0004.
- Offenders in Tier II or Tier III shall receive visitation in accordance with appropriate SOPs.
D. Authorized Visitors:
Note: In order to help ensure the safe and secure operation of all Departmental facilities, the Appointing Authority shall require a prospective visitor to sign Attachment 4 (GCIC/NCIC Consent form for Visitors of GDC Facilities), authorizing the release of driver and criminal history information to the Georgia Department of Corrections. This information may be obtained annually thereafter. This information may serve to assist in determining the approval or disapproval of a prospective visitor to a Department facility. Additionally, prospective visitors shall have to complete Attachment 2 (Application for Visitation Privilege). Any change in information provided on this form MUST be updated as it occurs. Failure to sign Attachment 4, and update changes as they occur may result in the denial or revocation of visitation privilege.
- All Visitors must complete and submit Attachment 2 (Application for Visitation Privilege). Facility staff shall review and approve or disapprove these applications. If a visitation request is disapproved by the Warden or Superintendent or their designee, then the disapproval reason must be written on the Application for Visitation Privilege and entered into the Contacts, and Case Notes sections of the Departments offender data management system.
- Each visitor shall update any change in their personal information as soon as the change occurs. Failure to update information may result in revocation of visitation privileges. If visitation privileges are revoked, the reason and length of the revocation must be clearly written on the visitation list and shall also be entered as a note under the Contacts, and Case Notes sections in the Departments offender data management system.
- Each visitor may be subject to ongoing Rapid ID scans, prior to entry at each visitation.
- Each visitor may be subject to annual Background Checks or Criminal History Checks.
- Each visitor shall be subject to having their photo made and maintained in the Contacts section of the Departments offender data management data system.
- Each offender shall complete a visitation list, Attachment 5. The number of visitors on an offenders approved visitation list is limited to twelve (12). Five (5) of the visitors listed shall also be selected for financials by the offender. The offender can send funds to and receive funds from those selected for financials. Visitors selected for financials shall be approved following the guidelines in S.O.P. 406.19, Offender Financial Transactions and Business Activities. The appropriate Departmental staff member shall enter all necessary information into the Contacts section of the Departments offender data management system. All of the data fields MUST be completed, and when a visitor is approved for visitation, then the appropriate box in the Contacts section must be checked. When an offender is transferred to another facility, his previously approved visitation list shall be honored unless extenuating circumstances come to light that would threaten the security and orderly operation of the receiving facility.
- If the determination is made to remove a visitor from the visitation list, the Warden or Superintendent or their designee shall immediately contact the visitor and notify them of the decision and the reason for their removal from the offenders approved visitation list. The disapproval reason shall be clearly documented on the offenders visitation request form; as well as in the Contacts, and Case Notes sections of the Departments offender data management system. Offenders having large families shall be considered on an individual basis. Persons who are not immediate family members and yet would like to be on the approved visitation list should make this known to the offender, who may make the request to the Warden or Superintendent. All visitors are subject to approval or disapproval by the Warden or Superintendent of the facility or their designee.
- All visitors, regardless of age, shall be approved and listed on the offenders visitation list. The only exception shall be if a special visit is approved in advance by the Warden or Superintendent or their designee.
- Categories of visitors may include the following: a. Members of an offenders immediate family, (parents, siblings, spouse, grandparents, grandchildren, or children) and members of an offenders extended family (step-parent, step-sibling, step-child, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, uncle, aunt, cousin, half-brother or half-sister, nephew, or niece,) upon request and after verification, may be placed on the offenders approved visitation list.
b. Significant Relationship Visitors may also be included on the approved visitation list. These visitors may be defined as:
1) Pre-incarceration relationships, which formed prior to the offender being incarcerated;
2) Post-incarceration relationships, which formed after incarceration began. Note: These relationships may include friends and employers or other relationships which have the potential for rehabilitative capabilities. The term Significant Relationship does NOT imply automatic approval for visitation because of romantic involvement. Rehabilitative potential must still be established.
- Former offenders (probationers and parolees, and those who served the maximum sentence) require the approval of the Warden or Superintendent prior to being placed on the approved visitation list. Prior offenders must have clear GCIC and NCIC reports for one (1) year since release from prison or since being placed on probation or parole. If an individual is disapproved, then the reason must be clearly written on the visitation list and shall also be entered as a note under the Contacts, and Case Notes sections in the Departments offender data management system.
- After a persons name has been placed on the approved visitation list, prior approval is not necessary on regular visitation days. Visitors under the age of sixteen (16) must be accompanied by an adult also on the visitation list.
- One offenders visitors shall not be allowed to visit with another offender or the visitors of another offender.
- Any offender with a current or prior conviction for any sexual offense as defined in the Definition Section of the SOP, shall not be allowed visitation with any person under the age of 18 years old, unless such person is an immediate family member (parents, siblings, spouse, child, grandparent, grandchild) of the offender and such person is not the victim of a sexual offense for which the offender was convicted. If visitation with a minor is restricted by court order, permission for special visitation with the minor may be granted only by the court issuing such order.
- Counselors shall review all offender institutional files to ensure compliance with section J. Special Visitation Requirements of this SOP and make necessary corrections to the identified offender(s) visitation list(s). The review shall be documented in the Case Notes section in the Departments offender data management system.
E. Visitation List Change:
- An offender may request to add or delete a name on their visitation list by contacting their counselor and providing the necessary information. If the offender is requesting to add a visitor(s), the visitor(s) must complete all necessary paperwork prior to approval. The counselor shall forward this request from the offender, and applicable paperwork from the visitor(s) being added, to the Warden or Superintendent or their designee who shall be the authorizing agent for such changes. Visitation lists may only be changed when the offender arrives at their first permanent facility or during the months of May and November. The selection for financials section may be changed at the same time. An offender may not change their visitation list or the financials selection in less than six (6) months time. The results of these requested revisions shall be completed and forwarded back to the offender within fourteen (14) working days from the date of the request. Address and personal information changes for visitors shall not be subject to the six (6) month review criteria and shall be done when the visitor supplies that information.
- During the six (6) month review, the Counselor shall verify that the Designated Beneficiary and Next of Kin are listed in the comments field of the Contacts section in the Departments offender data management system. The Counselor shall also make any necessary changes to the Designated Beneficiary and Next of Kin. The words Beneficiary and Next of Kin shall be completely spelled out in the comments field and shall not be abbreviated. The offender may request to change these designations at any time. Once all approvals and signatures have been obtained, the handwritten visitation list that is submitted by the offender shall be forwarded to the facility file room and maintained in the offenders institutional facility file. There is no need for computer generated visitation list copies to be placed in the file.
F. Notification of Loss of Visitation Privilege:
- The loss of visitation privileges shall be entered in the Comment field of the Contacts section and as a Case Note in the offenders electronic file using the Departments offender data management system.
- The facility shall notify any authorized visitor and the offender when the authorized visitors name has been removed from an offenders authorized visitation list and give the reason for removal.
a. The Warden or Superintendent or their designee shall be responsible for notifying the visitor, in writing, of their removal from the authorized visitation list. The notification shall include the reason for and length of the removal.
b. A copy of the visitor notification shall be:
1) Forwarded to the offender; and
2) Placed in the offenders facility institutional file.
- When an offender has lost visitation privileges for any reason, a person on their authorized visitation list, may be notified by the offender on a form letter provided by the facility so that potential visitors may avoid the inconvenience and frustrations associated with an unproductive trip. a. Such form letters shall be provided to the offender at the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing. b. Postage on this form letter shall be provided by the offender unless he or she is indigent. c. If the United States Mail would not reach the family in time to prevent an unnecessary trip, the offender may request that notification occur by collect call. Postal notice shall also be given.
G. Visitor Identification:
- Visitors are required to present positive identification prior to their admission for visiting.
- A valid drivers license with a picture, or identification card with a picture issued by the Department of Drivers Services or equivalent agency in another State. Other acceptable picture identification may also be accepted, this includes, but is not limited to, a Department of Defense issued identification card, or a valid passport. Valid photographic identification shall be required of all visitors age sixteen (16) and over.
- Visitors identification shall be maintained in a secure area outside the actual visitation area and shall be returned to the visitor at the conclusion of the visit.
- For the purpose of visitation, the term attorney includes an offenders attorney of record or any other attorney licensed to practice in State or United States Courts, Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Courts with whom the offender has or is attempting to establish an attorney-client relationship. (GDC Rule 125- 3-4-.07 and SOP (227.03) IIA14-0001)
a. An attorney must produce an active State Bar Card and a drivers license or an acceptable photograph identification card.
b. Attorneys shall be permitted to visit their clients at the facility during prescribed visiting periods with prior approval.
c. In addition, reasonable flexibility shall be exercised in permitting attorneys, by prior appointment, to visit with their clients during normal business hours.
d. Offenders shall be instructed to advise their attorneys that appointments are required to visit except in bona fide emergencies.
e. Appointments must be made through the Wardens or Superintendents Office twenty-four (24) hours in advance.
f. Surveillance and general supervision during the visit shall be maintained by correctional staff. The correctional staff member shall be positioned so as to permit the attorney and client to converse privately and maintain the privileged nature of their relationship. g. No special provisions shall be made for attorneys during normal visiting hours.
- By prior arrangements with the Warden or Superintendent or their designee, the offender may be visited by a paralegal, investigator or law assistant employed by an attorney.
a. Before allowing such a visit, the Warden or Superintendent or their designee shall require the attorney to contact the Warden or Superintendent or their designee and identify the person desired to be sent in the attorneys stead.
b. At each visit the Warden or Superintendent, or their designee, shall require the presentation of a letter, dated no later than one week prior to presentation, signed by the attorney, and identifying the holder and the offender to be visited. This letter should be placed in the offenders file.
c. The Warden or Superintendent or their designee may refuse permission for these visits for cause. Cause may include misrepresentation made by the attorney, paralegal or investigator concerning the visits, as well as, the existence of facts, which give the Warden or Superintendent or their designee reason to believe the visit would pose a threat to facility security.
I. Other Visitors and Facility Tours:
- The Warden or Superintendent or designee, at their discretion and in consideration of the purpose and the effects of the visit on the facility, may authorize individuals or groups such as representatives of civic groups, church committees, students or rehabilitative groups to visit the facility. Prior to any such visit, the Warden or Superintendent or their designee shall establish procedures necessary to govern the visit, safeguard the visitors, and provide for security of the facility. Tour group members must be at least twelve (12) years of age unless prior approval has been obtained from the Field Operations Manager or higher authority.
- At the Commissioners or designees discretion, and in consideration of the purpose and effects on the facility, may authorize the media to visit the facility. Prior to any such visit the Warden or Superintendent or designee shall establish the procedures necessary to govern the visit, safeguard the visitors, and provide for security of the facility.
J. Special Visitation Requirements:
- Special visits may be approved on an individual basis by the Warden or Superintendent or their designee. Under normal circumstances special visits require a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours advance notice but the Warden or Superintendent may deviate from this requirement due to the urgency or time sensitive nature of the special visit request.
- Other considerations for special visits may include, but are not limited to, when a family member lives far away, family members in the military on personal leave, a person who brings a family member because the family member is unable to drive, significant other, child advocacy groups bringing children, clergy, change in family that relatives want to inform the offender of, i.e. death, birth, marriage, extreme illness.
- Special visits may be utilized for an offenders immediate family that has recently been discharged from prison or is on probation or parole.
- Special visits shall be limited to no more than two (2) visitors at any one time. Special visits shall be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Warden or Superintendent or their designee. If the special visit is disapproved, a detailed explanation must be written on the request form stating the reason for disapproval and shall be clearly documented in the Contacts, and Case Notes sections of the Departments offender data management system.
- Special Visits for Sleepers at Catchment Site Hospitals shall be considered and scheduled on a case-by-case basis by the Warden or their designee at the Catchment Site. This visit is to be only for immediate family members indicated on the visitation list and only after the attending physician has determined that the offender is in the last hours or days of life and recommends that the offender receive the visit. Family members will communicate with the Catchment Facility Warden or designee to finalize a plan and schedule for the visited.
K. Reporting for Visits:
- Offenders: a. Offenders are required to wear their full Department issued uniform. The uniform is to be neat and clean in appearance in accordance with Department procedures. T-shirts may be worn under the dress shirt, but t-shirts may not be worn in the visitation area without the dress shirt. Offenders shall keep on all items of clothing including shirts and shoes during the visitation period. Offenders shall be permitted to wear soft shoes provided that they have a valid soft shoe profile.
b. Offenders must have their Department issued I.D. card in their possession and report to the Visitation Room Officer after their visit has been announced. Offenders shall be positively identified and are subject to a personal search of their body and personal effects when entering and leaving the visitation area. The Visitation Room Officer shall make an entry on the "Offender Visitation Room Log," (Attachment 3) when the offender enters. The Visitation Room Officer shall take the offenders I.D. card upon entry into the visitation area, and return it upon the offenders departure from the visitation area.
c. Offenders shall be clean and neat in appearance, and have their hair neatly styled or trimmed.
d. Male offenders shall be clean shaven according to Department procedures. Shaving cards must be produced if a medical reason is given for not shaving.
e. Offenders shall be allowed to wear a religious medal on a necklace and a ring into the visitation area. Necklaces with no religious pendant are contraband per SOP (206.01) IIB06-0001, "Offender Property Standards." No watches shall be permitted to enter or leave the visitation area on the person of an offender.
f. Offenders may not take or wear their coat or jacket into the visitation area.
g. Offenders shall remain properly dressed in their Department issued uniform throughout visitation.
h. The officer admitting the offenders into the visitation area shall make the appropriate notation on the Offender Visitation Room Log as to what the offenders have on when they arrive and shall check to ensure that the offenders are not taking anything out of the visitation area when they leave.
a. All visitors shall be required to sign in and out on an Offender Visitation Register (Attachment 1). Any small child incapable of signing in shall be signed in by the adult visitor who is responsible for the child. The register shall be dated and countersigned by the correctional officer in charge and subsequently shall be maintained on file at the facility.
b. Each page of the Offender Visitation Register shall reflect the statement contained in GDC Rule 125-3-4-.06-(3). In addition, the statement contained in this rule shall be posted on a sign in a visible area at the entrance of the facility for all visitors to read.
c. Visitors can only bring the following items into any facility:
1) An appropriate form of picture identification;
2) A maximum of forty dollars (40.00) in coins to be used for the vending machines; and 3) A set of car keys.
d. No food or drink shall be brought into the facility from the outside.
e. Funds for offenders from visitors shall be accepted only through the Consolidated Banking Unit, and may not be brought into a facility.
- Offenders and visitors shall be logged out as they depart the visitation area.
L. Supervision of Visitation:
- Visitation Room Officers shall supervise visits to make sure strict compliance with all applicable procedures is followed. This supervision shall include monitoring with a camcorder, closed circuit television system or other video monitoring system.
- Specific areas of the facility are designated for visitation. Offenders and their visitors are required to remain in the area to which they are assigned. Any violation of these parameters may result in the immediate termination of the visit.
- During visitation, the Visitation Room Officer shall maintain an accurate accountability of all offenders and visitors present. Offenders shall be accounted for prior to their visitors departure.
M. Conduct and Responsibility of Offenders and Visitors:
- Visitation is a privilege for offenders and should not be considered a right. Offenders or visitors that provide misleading information to the facility or act out in any way are subject to suspension and or removal of visitation privileges.
- Offenders may greet their visitor(s) after identification and clearance has been made by the Visitation Room Officer. Offenders and their visitor(s) shall take a seat and shall remain seated except to go to the restroom. Visitors may get up to get something from the vending machines or to speak to the officers. No visiting from table to table or corner to corner shall be permitted. Once the visit begins, visitors or offenders may not leave the visitation area unless they desire to terminate the visit.
- Personal contact such as hand shaking, embracing or kissing is permitted only at the beginning and conclusion of the visit. Excessive, frequent or prolonged embracing, hand holding, kissing or other inappropriate behavior is strictly prohibited. If these behaviors are exhibited by an offender or visitor and if after being warned, the offender or visitor(s) refuses to comply with the procedure, the visit shall automatically be terminated and the offender shall receive a disciplinary charge commensurate with the offense. Incidents that result in such actions shall be documented in the Departments offender data system. The information pertaining to the offender and visitors actions shall be written in a Case Note. Additionally, the actions of the visitor shall be entered in the Comments field in the Contact sections. Repeated offenses may result in the visitors name being removed from the offenders approved visitation list.
- All visitors shall sit in an upright position with their shoes on. There shall be no lying down across chairs; no leaning or lying across offenders or visitors; no sitting between one anothers legs; nor placing ones feet in the lap of another individual. Also, any other behavior that can be considered to be intimate physical contact shall be prohibited.
- No jackets, coats, etc. shall be permitted to be draped across the laps of offenders or visitors. Such items must be worn in a normal manner or folded neatly and put away during the visit.
- Visitors shall be responsible for keeping children under their control and within the bounds of the visitation area. All minors shall be kept under the immediate control and supervision of the adult who brought them to the facility.
- Conspicuous inebriation or drinking of alcoholic beverages prior to visitation shall not be permitted nor shall the introduction of alcoholic beverages be allowed within the facilitys guard lines. Detection of any use of alcoholic beverages shall result in disapproval of the visit or termination of any visit in progress without warning. Notation of such behavior by a visitor(s) shall be noted in the Comments field in the Contacts, and Case Notes sections of the Departments offender data management system.
- The use of narcotics or possession of same is strictly prohibited. Detection of narcotics, or the use of narcotics, shall result in disapproval of the visit or termination of any visit in progress without warning. Notation of such behavior by a visitor(s) shall be noted in the Comments field in the Contacts, and Case Notes sections of the Departments offender data management system.
- The introduction, or attempted introduction, of any form of contraband into the visitation area or within the facilitys guard line shall result in appropriate action being taken by the Front Entry Officer, Visitation Room Officer or administrative staff.
- Any violation of these procedures may result in immediate termination of the visit. Offenders are responsible for advising visitors of all current visitation policies. Notation of such behavior by a visitor(s) shall be noted in the Comments field in the Contacts and in Case Notes sections of the Departments offender data management system.
N. Visitor Clothing:
- Visitors are required to wear appropriate attire. Shoes are required of all visitors, including children, at all times. Male visitors shall be required to wear shirts and full-length trousers. If a visitor is wearing clothing not considered appropriate by the Front Entry or Visitation Room staff, they shall immediately notify the Shift Supervisor or Assistant Shift Supervisor. The Shift Supervisor or Assistant Shift Supervisor shall have the authority to do the following: a. Require the prospective visitor to change into appropriate attire; b. Ask the visitor to wear a cover-up such as a sweater, jacket, or other type of concealing garment during the visit; or c. Terminate the visit entirely, especially if the visitor refuses to cooperate with staff in this matter. (In the event the visit is terminated, the Shift Supervisor or Assistant Shift Supervisor shall notify the institutional Duty Officer). Notation of such behavior by a visitor(s) shall be noted in the Comments field in the Contacts section and in Case Notes section of the Departments offender data management system.
- Inappropriate clothing shall include, but is not limited to:
a. Dresses with thin straps which expose shoulders or chest area in any manner;
b. Dresses, skirts or other similar garments that are more than two (2) inches above the knees;
c. Tops, such as tank tops or any other top which exposes shoulders or chest area in any manner;
d. Tube tops or halter tops of any type;
e. Any type of clothing which reveals the stomach or midriff area;
f. Any type of clothing that is made of sheer, net, mesh or transparent (see through) material;
g. Shorts of any kind or any kind of slacks that are above the knee (children twelve (12) years old and under may wear shorts);
h. Leggings, jeggings, or any other skin tight pants shall never be worn.
i. Females are required to wear foundation type garments such as bras, panties, and slip;
j. Any other type of clothing that is suggestive or revealing in any way shall be prohibited;
- Offenders may not allow any visitor to wear any of the offenders clothing at any time. Offenders may not wear any of the visitors clothing while in the visitation area or any of the visitors jewelry or have in their possession anything owned by the visitor(s). This procedure shall be strictly adhered to and shall be enforced by the Visitation Room staff.
O. Parenting Program:
Children brought into the facility by a caretaker or guardian to visit an offender (parent) as part of a parenting program (if available), shall remain with the caretaker or guardian until the offender (parent) arrives in the visitation room. At this point the offender (parent) shall assume responsibility for his or her children.
- All visitors vehicles shall be parked in the facilitys designated visitor parking lot. All windows must be closed and doors locked. Visitors shall not park in any of the restricted areas, which have been marked.
- No persons, including those who may have given the visitor a ride or those who may have been denied visitation shall be allowed to wait in vehicles parked in the parking lot or on State property for any reason.
- No animals shall be left in vehicles parked in the parking lot or on State property for any reason.
Visitors may be barred from the facility during facility disturbances or emergency situations.
R. Denial of Visit:
The Front Entry and Visitation Room Officer(s) possess authority to deny visits. When in doubt, the Officer should request guidance from the shift supervisor or Duty Officer. Denial of visit may be the result of a visitor not being on the approved visitation list, inappropriate dress, detection of or the appearance of the use of alcohol or narcotics, or other situations that the Warden or Superintendent or their designee feel may endanger the security of the facility. Any visit that is denied must be documented on the Offender Visitation Register. Use at least two lines on the log: one for the offender and one for each visitor denied. State the name of the offender to be visited, the visitors name, action taken and the reason for denial of visit. Also, document questionable visits allowed by the Shift Supervisor. Forward a copy of the log to the Deputy Warden of Security whenever visits have been denied. In addition, notation of such behavior by a visitor(s) shall be noted in the Comments field in the Contacts, and Case Notes sections of the Departments offender data management system.
S. Rights of Georgia Department of Corrections:
Under the rules of the Board of Corrections, visitation is a privilege and not a right. Georgia Department of Corrections has the right to refuse visitation to anyone who is suspected of, is caught on the premises with contraband, attempts to or introduces contraband onto the premises of or into Georgia Department of Corrections facilities, or who has been repeatedly warned about a particular action. Moreover, the Department may suspend or revoke an offenders visitation privileges as a disciplinary sanction for violations of any institutional rules or procedures that have resulted in the offender receiving a Disciplinary Report. The Department also may temporarily suspend visitation privileges to meet special security needs of the facility.
This SOP shall be posted prominently and permanently in the Visitation Area.
GDC - Rules by Type - FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions: Visitation
In an effort to improve the experience for all visiting offenders under the supervision of the Georgia Department of Corrections, below please find a list answer to frequently asked questions regarding the visitation process:
1. Is visitation a right? No. While it is important for every offender to maintain connections with and the support of family and friends during incarceration, the safety and security of staff, offenders and visitors are critical. Therefore, visitation is a privilege afforded to offenders and should not be considered as a right.
2. My family member is currently going through the diagnostic process at a facility. Can I visit? No. Offenders will not be allowed to have visits while they are completing the diagnostic process. If the diagnostic process is not complete after 60 days, the offender will complete a visitation list containing the names of immediate family members. Once this list is completed, it will be reviewed for approval by the warden and/or designated facility staff. This list will be used for visitation at the diagnostic facility until the offender is transferred to a permanent assignment.
3. Who can visit? Members of an offender's immediate family, (for example, parents, brothers, sisters, spouse, grandparents, grandchildren, and children) may be requested by the offender for visitation approval. Individuals, who are not considered as “immediate” family members as described above (for example step-parents, stepsiblings, in-laws, uncle, aunt, cousin, half-brother/sister, nephew, niece or step-son/daughter, friends, employers, pastors, and other relationships that have the potential for rehabilitative support ), may be considered as a significant relationship visitor. For individuals wanting to visit as a significant relationship visitor, the offender must initiate such a request. The offender will need to complete the “Significant Relationship Visitor Application for Visitation Privilege” form, which is then sent to the Warden/Superintendent for review. Once approved or disapproved, the offender will be notified and in turn, the offender is responsible for notifying the person seeking to visit as a significant relationship visitor whether the person was approved or not approved to visit. Supporting documentation needed to verify relationships may be required by the facility.
4. How do I get approved for visitation? Offenders must request that you be added to their approved visitation list. Offenders may request to add or delete a name on their visitor list by contacting their counselor and complete all of the necessary information on the visitation list form. The counselor will forward this request to the Warden/Superintendent or designee, who is approves or disapproves changes to offenders’ visitation list. Visitor lists may only be changed when offenders arrive at their first permanent facility or during the months of May and November, but not any earlier than six months from the last change request. Approval or disapproval of a changed visitor list shall be completed and forwarded back offenders within fourteen (14) working days from the date of the requested. Please note that address changes for visitors shall not be subject to the six (6) month review criteria and all corrections shall be done when offenders provide this information.
5. If I am an ex-offender can I be approved for visitation? In order for offenders, ex-offenders, probationers, and parolees to visit, approval must be granted by the Warden/Superintendent prior to being placed on the approved visitor list. All former offenders must have clear Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) criminal history report for one year following their release from prison or since being placed on probation or parole. In addition, the procedures for being placed on an offender’s visitor list as outlined in Questions # 3 above apply in addition to clearing the GCIC check.
6. Can I visit once and not be on the approved visitation list? Each offender may request a “special visit.” Special visits are reviewed for approval on an individual basis by the Warden/Superintendent or designee. Under normal circumstances, special visits require a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours advance notice. Special visits will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the Warden or his/her designee, and will take into consideration the offender’s institutional conduct when making the decision to approve or disapprove such a request. Please note that the Warden/Superintendent may depart from this requirement due to the urgency and/or time sensitive nature of the special visit request.
Other examples of special visits may include:
• Offenders, who have documented protective custody needs, may be required to visit at times when other potentially threatening offenders are not in the visitation area.
• When a family member lives far away, i.e. out-of-state, a family member is in the military on personal leave, a family member is unable to drive and must be driven to the facility for visitation by a non-family member, significant other, child advocacy groups bringing children, clergy, change in family that relatives want to inform the offender of, i.e. death, birth, marriage, extreme illness, incentive award programs may be developed to earn special visits.
• Special visits may also be utilized for offenders’ immediate family that have recently been discharged from prison or that are on probation or parole. Special visits will be limited to no more than two (2) visitors at any one time.
7. What are the days and times of visitation? Normally, visitation occurs on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and the duration of each visiting period will be for a minimum of six (6) hours. Because some facilities have smaller visitation areas than others, it is necessary to split the visitation schedule (i.e. offenders with a last name beginning with any letter A-K visits 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and any offender with a last name beginning with any letter L-Z visits 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM).
Please note that all State facilities and Private Prisons will observe those days proclaimed by the Governor of Georgia as legal state holidays. In addition, County institutions will observe legal holidays that are recognized by their local governing authority. For further detail of the specific visitation hours at the facility to which an offender is assigned, one must contact that facility to obtain more detailed information.
8. Can I visit the whole day? Normally, there will be no restrictions placed on the length of visits during the facility's established visitation periods. However, certain situations that may affect the length of time for a visit. Below please find a general list of situations:
• in order to have the offender in the visitation area during the mid-day count, visitors must arrive at the facility one (1) hour prior to the time that is designated by the Warden as the mid-day count. The mid-day count time shall be posted in all living areas and in the visitation room.
• the shift supervisor has the authority to adjust the length of visitation times allotted to individual offenders, or to terminate visits, during times of overcrowding.
• the shift supervisor may also terminate individual visits because of improper conduct or failure to abide by regulations.
• if an offender has more than one visitor on a given day, individual visitors may be limited to a time of less than four (4) hours.
• if overcrowding requires the termination of visits, offenders who had their visits begun first will normally be the first to have their visits terminated. However, such factors as relationships, frequency of visits, distance traveled, etc. will be taken into consideration.
9. Where do I park when I arrive at the facility? All visitors' vehicles will be parked in the facility's designated visitor parking lot. All windows must be closed and doors locked. Visitors will not park in any of the restricted areas, which have been marked. No persons or pets will be left in vehicles parked in the parking lot on the facility’s grounds (considered State property) for any reason.
10. What is the dress code for visitation? Visitors are required to wear appropriate attire. Shoes are required at all times for visitors, including children if they are able to walk or stand. Male visitors will be required to wear shirts and full-length trousers. Females may wear trousers, or if a female visitor wears a dress, skirt or other similar garment, it may NOT be more than two (2) inches above the knees. Furthermore, all female visitors must wear foundation type garments such as bras, panties, and slip.
Inappropriate clothing shall include, but not be limited to:
• Dresses or tops with thin straps which expose shoulders or chest area in any manner;
• tube tops or halters of any type;
• any type of clothing which reveals the stomach or midriff area;
• any type of clothing that is made of sheer or transparent material;
• shorts of any kind or any kind of slacks that are above the knee (twelve 12) years old and under may wear shorts);
• Male visitors are not permitted to wear tank tops or short tops of any kind, nor see-through tops made of net or mesh webbing. Shorts are not permitted (children twelve 12 years old and under may wear shorts).
• Any other type of clothing that is suggestive or revealing in any way shall be prohibited.
11. What type of identification do I need to have in order to be allowed to visit at the facility? Visitors are required to present positive identification prior to their admission for visiting. A driver's license with picture, a picture identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety, or other acceptable photographic identification card will be required of all visitors age sixteen (16) and over. A temporary driver's license issued by the Department of Public Safety will be acceptable when accompanied by some other form of appropriate picture identification. Identification cards will be maintained in a secure area outside the actual visitation area and will be returned at the conclusion of the visit.
12. What items am I allowed to bring to visitation? Visitors can only bring into the facility items identified by the facility (i.e., identification card, car keys) No food or drink will be brought into the facility from the outside other than bottled formula or like store-bought products for babies. Visitors will be allowed to bring a maximum of twenty dollars ($20.00) in coins to be used for the vending machines. Funds from visitors for offenders will be accepted only through the mail. Musical instruments, radios, pets, cameras, or tape recorders will not be allowed in the visiting area.
13. Will I be searched? All visitors are subject to a preliminary search of their person by electronic surveillance instruments (metal detectors, etc.). All items brought into the facility by a visitor will be searched by officers assigned to the visitation area. If correctional staff determine that there is reasonable suspicion of violations of department policies on contraband a more thorough search must be conducted. If this occurs, the visit will not be permitted without the visitor consenting to such a search, and then only after the search is completed will the visit occur.
14. Can I visit another offender at the same facility? No. One offender's visitors will not be allowed to visit with another offender or his/her visitors.