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Prison Information and Visiting Hours

Each prison has set up certain days and times, called "visiting hours," for family and friends to visit inmates.. Some have more space and other facilities available for visiting than others.

All institutions have visiting hours on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; and most have them at other times during the week. Individual prisons can set up evening hours.

The inmate you plan to visit should tell you what the hours are for that prison. If you have any question about a particular prison's hours, call that prison or use our online Facility Locator tool to find the visiting hours for the prison.

The Warden can decide to restrict the length of visits or the number of people who can visit at once, to avoid overcrowding in the visiting room. Sometimes the prison may have to limit visiting per inmate to one day on a weekend, because it is the most popular time to visit.

Prisons try to allow for families' special circumstances, such as the distance you have to travel or health problems. Staff can help with directions, including how to get there by public transportation when available; but there is no Government payment or reimbursement for transportation. Again, call the prison before you travel for a visit.

Who can visit Prison Inmates

To visit, you must be on the inmate's approved visiting list. The inmate gives a list of proposed visitors to staff, who investigate the proposed visitors before putting anyone to the list. The list includes:

  • Immediate family: mother, father, step-parent(s), foster parent(s), brothers and sisters, spouse, and children. (Common-law spouses are considered immediate family if the state recognizes common-law marriages.)
  • Other relatives: grandparents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, and cousins.
  • Friends and associates: usually, an inmate's visiting list should not include more than 10 friends and associates.

When an inmate arrives at an institution, he/she receives an institution handbook that has visiting procedures, including:

  • prison address/phone number, directions, and information about local transportation
  • days and hours of visitation
  • approved dress code
  • items authorized in the visiting room
  • special rules for children
  • items visitors may bring to give to the inmate
  • identification requirements for visitors
  • special visitor requirements

An initial visiting list is ordinarily established within a few days. It includes immediate family members approved to visit. Additional family members and friends may be added following investigation.

The inmate is responsible for giving each approved visitor the visiting guidelines and directions to the prison.

Sick inmates

If the inmate is in the prison's health services unit, the Medical Officer may decide not to allow a visit for health-related reasons. Sometimes inmates go to hospitals in the community. Usually only immediate family can visit, according to the hospital's policy. In either case, be sure to contact the prison before you visit.

Inmates in the special housing unit

Usually, you can visit an inmate in detention or segregation. The prison will set up special visiting procedures. Visiting may be restricted (or the visiting privilege might be revoked) if the inmate committed a prohibited act relating to visiting, or if visiting might threaten the order or security of the institution. Inmates can lose their visiting privileges, but only after a disciplinary hearing.

Visiting Room Procedure

General procedures

  • When you arrive at the institution, you must show a photo ID and sign a visitors' log. Your name will be checked against the inmate's visiting list.
  • Staff will show you guidelines for visiting the institution. You will have to sign a statement that you do not have anything in your possession that is a threat to the security of the institution.
  • Staff can search you or your property.
  • Staff are in the visiting room at all times to supervise each visit.

The Special note: the Visiting Regulations indicate: "The Warden may monitor a restroom within the visiting area when there is reasonable suspicion that a visitor or an inmate is engaged, or attempting or about to engage, in criminal or other prohibited behavior." Staff will not allow you to visit unless you cooperate with all requirements.

Usually there are visiting room dress code

Wear clothing that is appropriate for a large gathering of men, women, and young children. Wearing inappropriate clothing (such as provocative or revealing clothes) may result in your being denied visitation.

For example, you will not be admitted if you wear:

  • revealing shorts
  • sundresses
  • halter tops
  • bathing suits
  • see-through garments of any type
  • crop tops
  • low-cut blouses or dresses
  • leotards
  • spandex
  • miniskirts
  • backless tops
  • hats or caps
  • sleeveless garments
  • skirts two inches or more above the knee
  • dresses or skirts with a high-cut split in the back, front, or side
  • any clothing that looks like inmate clothing (such as khaki or green military-type clothing)

Differences between Federal, State, & Local Inmates

Only persons convicted of violating Federal laws (that is, laws of the United States) are sent to Federal prisons. Some individuals awaiting trial for violating Federal laws are also held in Federal prisons. While the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) does house a few state inmates, most inmates convicted of violating state or local laws are sent to state prisons or city or county jails.

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