Having a loved one serving a sentence in prison can be incredibly difficult, especially during times like the holiday season. Visiting your loved one can be very helpful to them during this time, and it has also proven to be an effective way to help individuals re-integrate into society once they have been released. No matter the time of year, prison visits in New York require some planning ahead of time. The biggest discouraging factor for prospective visitors is feeling overwhelmed at the visiting process and not knowing where to start, so this is your guide on how to prepare for prison visits in the New York State prison system.
- There is a privilege-based system for visitation implemented by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), meaning that visitors and inmates who violate the rules of visitation may lose their privileges.
- Inmates may also lose visiting privileges if they have received any disciplinary infractions.
- New York does not require a visitor’s application before you visit.
- Be sure to know visiting hours of the institution, and contact the inmate ahead of time to confirm that they agree with you visiting.
- All visitors will be searched and are required to pass through a metal detector to enter into visitation. Metal buttons, buckles, or underwire bras may be set off the metal detector, causing a more intrusive search to take place. If it cannot be determined what set off the metal detector upon visual inspection, you may be asked to submit to a strip search. That being said, you are allowed to decline at any time, but you will not be allowed to attend the current visit. If you have a pacemaker or other medical device, bring the necessary medical paperwork.
- When visiting with an infant or small child, you are permitted to bring one small diaper bag, three diapers, and one plastic baby bottle which you may fill with milk or formula. Diapers can be changed in a designated area of the visiting room; they cannot be changed at the visiting table.
In order to visit a correctional institution, you must provide valid photo identification, such as:
- Current U.S. driver’s license
- Valid U.S. employment ID card with photo with the most recent employment pay stub
- DMV non-driver license ID card
- U.S. Armed Services identification
- Valid passport from any country
- Permanent resident or resident alien card issued by the U.S. Department of Justice
- Consulate-issued or diplomatic identification
- NYS benefits identification card (Medicaid/food stamp photo ID)
- IDNYC card
If you are bringing a minor to your correctional institution visit, you should also bring the minor’s birth certificate for identification.
Dress code for prison visits in New York is strictly enforced for the order, safety, and security of everyone in the correctional facility. You will not be allowed to visit if your clothing violates the dress code. Just in case, bring extra clothes with you if something you’re wearing is deemed inappropriate so you can make a quick change.
Clothing Not Permitted:
- Clothing that exposes the cleavage, shoulders, cleavage, midriff, back, or thighs
- Sheer or see-through clothing
- Tight clothing such as leggings, spandex, or tank tops
- Bathing suits
- Open-toed shoes or slippers
- Military uniforms, doctor uniforms, and scrubs
- Hats and bandanas that cover your face
- Hemlines shorter than mid-thigh, including skirts, dresses, and shorts
- Clothing with offensive or obscene images or language, or which promote sex, drugs, or alcohol
- Excessive jewelry or metal hairpins that can make the metal detector go off
Religious items may be worn, but they are still subject to search. You should also leave as much as possible in your locked car; do not bring wallets, purses, cell phones, or other electronics. While some prisons have lockers in which you may store your items, the prison cannot guarantee that a locker will be available.
Rules of Conduct During Visitation
- Every visitor is required to read the rules and sign a statement that they understand what is expected during visitation.
- Staff members will order your visit to be terminated immediately if you are disruptive, loud, or argumentative.
- There may be no physical contact except for a brief hug and kiss at the start and end of a visit.
- You may not leave people or animals in your car while you visit.
- You are permitted to bring up to $20 in coins to purchase items from the vending machines.
- Upon arrival, you may not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are, you will not be allowed to visit.
- Children visiting must remain under your control at all times. Disruptive and uncontrollable children your result in your visit ending early.