IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR VISITING
Updated July 8, 2021
In-Person Scheduling Using Visitation Scheduling Application
Visitors must request in-person visits at institutions using CDCR’s Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA). CDCR will no longer accept visitation appointment requests through email, except for California Health Care Facility in Stockton. VSA allows approved visitors to easily schedule their own visits and receive instant confirmation of their request.
The VSA scheduling window begins Friday, July 9 at 6 a.m. for a visit on Saturday, July 17 and on Saturday, July 10 at 6 a.m. for a visit on Sunday, July 18.
Fire Camp Visitation and Scheduling
Please note this change to VSA scheduling does not apply to conservation (fire) camps, which will continue to schedule video visitations through email. CDCR is currently in the final stages of developing medical and safety protocols for in-person visitation at fire camps. Conditions at conservation camps are fluid, particularly during fire season, and CDCR is carefully crafting a plan to ensure the safety and security of all those who live, work and visit the camps – as well as the surrounding communities that they serve.
As a reminder, only individuals who have already been approved as a visitor, as outlined in CDCR’s visiting polices, may make an appointment at institutions or conservation camps. Please see information below on scheduling, testing, and other visitation details.
CDCR’s COVID-19 Tracker has been updated to include which phase each institution is in according to the Roadmap to Reopening: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/population-status-tracking/
Please check the Facility Visiting Status page frequently for updates on the status of in-person visiting at each institution: https://visitorreservations.cdcr.ca.gov/VisitingStatus.aspx
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.
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
- Two hour in-person visits
- 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. 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 .
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.
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:
- The visitor to be married
- The ceremony officiant (if not provided by the institution)
- 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.
In-person visitors who are unvaccinated MUST provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit, or undergo a rapid test prior to admission into the institution. ON-SITE TESTING IS LIMITED AND NOT GUARANTEED. Find a testing location near you at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/LocalHealthServicesAndOffices.aspx.
Effective May 8-9 fully vaccinated visitors may present their valid vaccination card indicating they are at least two weeks past the last injection in their vaccination series in lieu of a negative COVID test result. Visitors must present their vaccination card as proof.
These same rules apply to incarcerated people. In addition, incarcerated people are required to have a rapid response COVID-19 test 72-96 hours following their visit. Incarcerated people who decline the test will not be eligible for in-person visiting.
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 date of the visit. For example, in-person and video visits to take place on Saturday, July 10 can be requested beginning July 2 through July 6. Visits to take place on Sunday, July 11 can be requested beginning July 3 through July 7.
Connectivity issues will not allow CDCR to offer VSA to schedule fire camp video visits or in-person visits when they resume. CDCR is currently in the final stages of developing medical and safety protocols for in-person visitation at fire camps. Conditions at conservation camps are fluid, particularly during fire season, and CDCR is carefully crafting a plan to ensure the safety and security of all those who live, work and visit the camps – as well as the surrounding communities that they serve.
See our step-by-step guide for how to use VSA for more information.
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
CDCR has announced video visiting at 32 conservation camps, also known as fire camps. Friends and family may schedule visits 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.
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.