Visitation Information

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR VISITING 

Updated September 3, 2021

Check Visiting Status

Friends and family: If you are planning a visit, be sure to check the Facility Visiting Status page for the latest visiting protocols, days, and times for a specific institution. Institution visiting schedules vary based on operational need and being able to offer as many visiting slots as possible.  

Scheduling Friday Visits Using VSA

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 9, approved visitors will be able to schedule Friday visits occurring the following week using CDCR’s Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA). The request window for Friday visits will open Thursdays at 6 a.m. and close on Sundays at 11:59 p.m.

For example, a visit on Friday, Sept. 17 can be scheduled Thursday, Sept. 9 through Sept. 12.

Please note: This excludes California Health Care Facility – Stockton, who will maintain their current email request process.

In-Person Visits at Conservation (Fire) Camps

In-person visiting is now available at conservation (fire) camps on Saturdays and Sundays. Camps in Phase 3 of the Roadmap to Reopening will offer in-person visiting sessions of any length between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to no more than three approved visitors over the age of 2 per incarcerated person.

Scheduling for in-person fire camp visits may be made Monday through Friday on the week of the proposed visit by calling or emailing the camp directly. Weekend video visiting will continue to be offered. For further information on camp visiting, see below.

Please note: Because fire crew member(s) can be activated on short notice, visitors should call and/or email the camp directly for updates before traveling.

For technical assistance with VSA, contact the Visiting Sergeant or Lieutenant of the institution you wish to visit. Please DO NOT contact GTL for technical assistance.

Please check the Facility Visiting Status page frequently for updates on the status of in-person visiting at each institution.

CDCR recognizes visiting is an important way to maintain family and community ties. At the same time, our first priority is the health and safety of those who live in and work in our facilities. After suspending in-person visiting statewide in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic health emergency, the department worked closely with our health care partners to begin reopening institutions for limited in-person visitation beginning April 10, 2021. The department has taken unprecedented steps to prepare and immediately respond to COVID-19, and active cases are the lowest they’ve been since early April 2020.  

On May 6, CDCR announced details of an expanded three-phased approach to reopening visiting that will allow facilities to increase the duration of each visit, and the number of visitors allowed to each incarcerated person, including children age two and older, when it is safe to do so.

In-Person Visiting

CDCR has expanded in-person visiting as part of its Roadmap to Reopening. The department’s plan is a phased and tailored approach anchored in guidelines and guidance from health care professionals. Wardens and health care CEOs determine the phase for each facility within the institution. The phase is based on the number of active cases, the time in between active and resolved cases, and other health and safety factors. The COVID-19 Tracker has been updated to include the phase for each institution, current COVID-19 testing data, confirmed and resolved cases, as well as vaccination rates.

The visitation phases are:

  • Phase 1 – Reporting three or more COVID-19 cases in a 14-day period
    • No in-person visiting
    • One-hour video visits
  • Phase 2 – No new outbreak for 14 days
    • Fully vaccinated visitors will not be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test if they can provide their valid vaccination card indicating they are two weeks past the final injection of their vaccination series
    • Two hour in-person visits
      • One adult visitor for each incarcerated person
      • One-hour video visits
  • Phase 3 – No new outbreak for 28 days 
    • Two hour in-person visits
      • Three visitors allowed for each incarcerated person – of these, two may be children age two or older
  • Child play areas will be available and sanitation protocols followed
  • Vending machine food will be allowed
  • Bottled water will be provided if vending machines are not available
  • One hour video visits

Visiting hours vary, but most facilities will schedule video and in-person visits between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays and between noon and 7 p.m. on Fridays. Visiting slots will be limited based on space availability in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

Visiting days, times, and availability vary from institution to institution. Friends and family should continue to check the Facility Visiting Status page regularly for details on the status of in-person visiting at the institution they wish to visit.

Under the new guidelines outlined in the Roadmap to Reopening, each incarcerated person will have the opportunity for a free one-hour video visit. If the facility status allows, some will also be eligible for a two hour in-person visit. There are no limits to the amount of visits a visitor may schedule; however, incarcerated persons are only allowed one visit per day, either in-person or video. All visiting will be determined based on availability and health and safety considerations.

To make your in-person visit go as smoothly as possible, CDCR encourages you to familiarize yourself with our Frequently Asked Questions.

All institutions will follow public health protocols while conducting visits, including the use of masks, physical distancing, and sanitation of each station following a visit. CDCR will continue to enforce visitation rules including appropriate attire.

Visitors are encouraged to reference our Frequently Asked Questions for how to schedule visits, and an overview of new protocols, including COVID-19 testing requirements.

For more on CDCR’s response to COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 information page .

Family Visiting

All CDCR institutions in Phase 3, as outlined in the department’s Roadmap to Reopening, are scheduling extended overnight family visits. Visits are for no longer than 48 hours and are usually conducted in a separate facility on institution grounds.

This program allows an eligible incarcerated person to visit with as many as five approved family members. Only immediate family members that are approved visitors, including domestic partners, are authorized for family visits. There are no age restrictions for prospective visitors. The number of visits allowed is determined by each institution.

To schedule a family visit, an incarcerated person must request to schedule a Family Visit with the Family Visiting Coordinator.  The Family Visiting Coordinator at the institution will provide the necessary paperwork for the incarcerated person to complete, as well as a packet for them to send to their approved visitors to complete. Once all paperwork is complete and a visit is scheduled, the Family Visiting Coordinator will assist in arranging meals and other details. Depending upon the institution, family visits may be offered on the weekend, during the week, or both. Incarcerated persons and their families must pay for meals; all other accommodations are provided at no cost.

Each institution compiles a waitlist for family visit requests, prior waitlists are no longer in effect. Availability of visits, and turnaround time between approval and visit, varies with each institution.

Family members over age 2 must show proof of a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test or a rapid Point-of-Care COVID-19 test obtained within three days prior to the visit or present a valid vaccination card noting they are at least two weeks past their final injection. Neither face coverings nor physical distancing will be required during the visit.

Following family visiting, incarcerated persons will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and have a rapid test within 72 to 96 hours. Unvaccinated incarcerated persons also will be placed in precautionary quarantine for 14 days and tested prior to release from quarantine. Incarcerated persons who decline testing after a visit will be placed in quarantine for 21 days, regardless of vaccination status.

Family visits occur in private, apartment-like facilities on prison grounds and last approximately 30 to 40 hours. The following individuals are excluded from family visits: Incarcerated persons on Death Row, any incarcerated person with convictions for sex offenses, anyone in the Reception Centers process, or anyone under disciplinary restrictions. Family visits are restricted to immediate family members (parents, children, siblings, legal spouses, registered domestic partners, or who have a bona fide and verified foster relationship) of the incarcerated person. Family visits are further restricted by availability. An eligible incarcerated person must put in an application for a family visit with their assigned correctional counselor at the prison. Further inquiries about family visiting should be directed by the incarcerated person to their counselor or by the family to the respective institution visiting staff.

In April 2020, CDCR authorized a one-time refund for supplies purchased for family visits that were unable to be used due to the sudden cancellation of family visits. Once an institution resumes family visits, no refunds will be allowed for supplies pursuant to CCR Title 15, Section 3097(m). Family visiting funds that are unable to be used for any reason are to be saved for future visits, or reimbursed if the incarcerated person paroles or transfers. If supplies have already been purchased, the visitor may pick them up at the institution or request they be donated. Refunds for purchased supplies in 2020 should be brought to the attention of the Public Information Officer at the prison. If funds were provided, but supplies were not purchased, for a family visit in 2020, those funds may be used for a future family visit and will not be refunded unless the incarcerated person has since released or transferred.  

In-Person Marriage Ceremonies

Effective immediately, in-person marriage ceremonies may be scheduled and facilitated at adult institutions in Phase 3 of the Roadmap to Reopening. Each institution has its own protocols for marriages; please contact your institution for details. Ceremonies will be limited to three approved visitors:

  1. The visitor to be married
  2. The ceremony officiant (if not provided by the institution)
  3. One civilian witness

As part of ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, incarcerated guests will not be permitted at this time.

The process for requesting and completing a marriage packet has not changed. The incarcerated person must request the marriage packet from their counselor. Prior wedding waitlists will be honored. For more information, contact the institution in which your loved one is housed.

If an institution is not in Phase 3, adult applicants may continue to appear before a county clerk to obtain a marriage license via videoconference, rather than in person per Governor’s Executive Order #N-58-20 . While CDCR is in compliance with this order, the authority to issue marriage licenses and to validate marriage ceremonies continues to rest entirely with the individual counties.

All in-person visitors must show proof of a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test or a rapid Point-of-Care COVID-19 test obtained within three days prior to the visit or present a valid vaccination card noting they are at least two weeks past their final injection.

An in-person ceremony may be cancelled at any time due to health and safety reasons. When this status changes, a request may be submitted to the Marriage Coordinator to reschedule.

Vaccination/Testing Procedures

Effective August 7, in-person visitors who are unvaccinated MUST provide printed proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit. ON-SITE TESTING HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED.

Both the COVID-19 vaccine and various forms of testing are now widely available in our communities.

Visit the California Department of Public Health website to find a free testing location near you. Please note that self-administered home test results will NOT be accepted.

Visit VaccinateALL58.com for more information about getting vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated visitors must  present their valid vaccination card indicating they are at least two weeks past the final injection in their vaccination series in lieu of a negative COVID test result.

Incarcerated people must also be fully vaccinated, or have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their scheduled visit.

Scheduling In-Person and Video Visits at Institutions using Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA)

Approved visitors must use the Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA) to schedule in-person and video visits. VSA is easy to use and gives users instant confirmation of their request. Only those individuals who have already been approved as a visitor may make an appointment at institutions.

The VSA visit request period is open from 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. beginning eight days prior to the visitation day. The request window closes 5 days prior to the visitation day. See the table below for examples.

Day of VisitRequest Window OpensRequest Window Closes
Saturday, September 116:00 AM
Friday, September 3
11:59 PM
Monday, September 6
Sunday, September 126:00 AM
Saturday, September 4
11:59 PM
Tuesday, September 7

Connectivity issues will not allow CDCR to offer VSA to schedule fire camp video or in-person visits.

See our step-by-step guide for how to use VSA for more information. 

Scheduling In-Person Visits at Conservation (Fire) Camps Using Email and Telephone

Effective Sept. 4, in-person visitation will be offered at 32 conservation camps, also known as fire camps, on Saturdays and Sundays. As many as three people over the age of 2 may visit for any length of time between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., depending on which phase of the Roadmap to Reopening the camp is identified.

In-person visits may be scheduled from Monday through Friday for a visit that weekend by calling or emailing the fire camp directly.

For example, a prospective visitor may call or email for an in-person visiting reservation starting Aug. 30 for a visit on Sept. 4 or 5.

In-person visitors who are unvaccinated MUST provide printed proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit. On-site testing will not be available.

Fully vaccinated visitors must present their valid vaccination card indicating they are at least two weeks past the final injection in their vaccination series in lieu of a negative COVID-19 test result.

Additionally, all visitors and incarcerated persons will be asked to self-screen for symptoms prior to a visit. Those exhibiting symptoms will not be permitted to visit.

Fire camp email addresses and phone numbers:

Video Visiting

CDCR continues to offer real-time video visiting at 33 prisons and 32 conservation camps as a safe way for incarcerated people to see and speak with their loved ones. California State Prison – Corcoran and California State prison – Sacramento, are the only institutions not doing video visits at this time.

Approved visitors should log into the video visit at least five minutes prior to the scheduled start time and have valid identification ready to present to staff (including minor(s) birth certificates).

Visitors should ensure they are in a location where they will be able to hear throughout the visit, as the incarcerated person’s mask must remain on through the duration of the video visit.

To maintain order and to ensure safety, rules established in California Code of Regulations, Title 15, Article 7, Visiting, still apply during all video visits with the exception of dress code color restrictions. This also includes that there is absolutely NO recording of video visits. Any visitors caught violating these restrictions could have their visiting privileges suspended.

Misconduct by any party during a visit will result in termination of the video visit, and may include disciplinary action. Review attire and other visiting guidelines prior to visiting.

All institutions will follow public health protocols while conducting video visitation, including physical distancing and sanitation of each station following a visit. Visit our website for additional information on CDCR’s COVID-19 response. Visitors will receive a confirmation email that includes the visit’s time, date, and a link to join a visiting session as well as instructions on how to begin a video visit. The dates and times cannot be changed if you cannot make the appointment. You may request a new visit during the next open visiting scheduling timeframe. You may also check out the Webex How-To resource for some helpful tips and a step-by-step guide on how to access the Webex video visit.

Scheduling Video Visits at Conservation Camps and the California Health Care Facility in Stockton with Email

Friends and family may schedule video visits at 32 fire camps starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday through 8 a.m. on Monday for visits the following weekend.

Please submit visitation requests for fire camps and the California Health Care Facility in Stockton via email, and include all necessary visitor information to the designated email of the location for which you’d like to request a visit.

As with all visitation at our institutions, visits may be canceled at any time for health and safety reasons. Please check the Visiting Facility Status for updates.

Holiday Video Visiting

A request to visit on an approved holiday may be submitted seven days prior, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Example: An approved visitor wanting to visit on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 (Christmas Day), would be allowed to request a video visit on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Recognized holidays are New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Using Webex Video System

Video visits will take place using Webex, which can be accessed for free on devices with internet and camera capabilities (i.e., smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer). Incarcerated people will use laptop computers in designated visiting areas. CDCR will only provide laptop computers to inmates; no equipment will be provided to visitors by CDCR. View more information on the video visitation technology.

Locate Inmate

Use the Inmate Locator to find an inmate and in what facility they are housed.

Check Visiting Status

You can find out the visiting status of a CDCR facility by checking the VPASS Visiting Status. You should always do this the day you plan to visit, because visitation can sometimes be unexpectedly cancelled.

Contacting an Incarcerated Person

Individuals are free to contact any state prison inmate by mail, and electronic mail is available at some institutions. See our website on how to contact an inmate.

You cannot directly call an inmate. However, most inmates have access to telephones and can initiate outgoing collect calls. Learn how to receive a call.

Sending Money and Packages

Sending money to an inmate is permitted. Learn how to send money. How to Send a Package to an Inmate.
You can send Inmate Quarterly Packages through authorized private vendors. Learn how to send packages.

You can send Religious Property Packages through authorized private vendors. Send Religious Property packages.

Inmate Family Councils

Statewide Inmate Family Council Local Inmate Family Councils (IFC’s) are a gathering of family and friends of the incarcerated who meet regularly with Wardens to support visiting since keeping strong family connections with loved ones is a powerful rehabilitative tool. These IFC’s promote visiting by clarifying rules and regulations as well as discussing health, education, vocational training, packages, books, and related issues. For more information on connecting with a local IFC, please visit the Statewide IFC website.

Throughout the roll-out of the video visitation program, CDCR will be collecting feedback, questions, and concerns on the process from the IFC’s so the department can work to create better solutions and processes for this new program.

Visitation Guidelines

Refer to the Department’s current policies and regulations in Title 15 and the Department Operations Manual if you want to know more.