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In‑Person Visiting Frequently Asked Questions

Reopening In-Person Visiting Program FAQ

CDCR offers both in-person and video visiting at 34 institutions with continued COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place to protect staff, incarcerated people, and visitors.

Visiting status is determined by the department’s Roadmap to Reopening. The plan is a phased and tailored approach anchored in guidelines and guidance from public health and health care experts. Wardens and healthcare CEOs at each institution will determine the visiting status for each facility within the institution, based on the number of active cases, the time in between active and resolved cases, and other factors based on health and safety.

Check the Facility Visiting Status page regularly for updates on the status of visiting at each institution.

The department deeply values visiting, and will work hard to ensure people are able to see their loved ones as long as it is safe to do so.

CDCR will offer in-person visiting at each institution using the phased and tailored approach outlined in the Roadmap to Reopening. Any institutions in the “Open Phase” of the roadmap will be permitted to conduct in-person visiting.

Family visiting will resume in the “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening.

Friends and family should regularly check the Facility Visiting Status page for updates on the status of in-person visiting at each institution.

All CDCR institutions in “Open Phase”, as outlined in the department’s Roadmap to Reopening, are scheduling extended overnight family visits. Visitors and their incarcerated loved one is permitted to spend approximately 46 consecutive hours in the family visiting units.

For Family Visiting, proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of the visit are required and all visitors must screen negative for COVID symptoms on the day of visit.

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 visits occur in private, apartment-like facilities on prison grounds and last approximately 46 consecutive 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.

For regular in-person visiting, COVID testing requirements will no longer be required regardless of vaccination status. However, each visitor must self-screen negative for symptoms the day of visit. This does not apply to family visiting.

For Family Visiting: Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of the visit are required and all visitors must screen negative for COVID symptoms on the day of visit.

View details in the September 19, 2022 memo “Update to Visiting Regulations“.

No. Pre-visitation COVID testing and vaccination verification requirements will no longer be required for regular, in-person visiting. However, each visitor must self-screen negative for symptoms the day of visit.

For Family Visiting: Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of the visit are required and all visitors must screen negative for COVID symptoms on the day of visit.

If staff observes visitors displaying symptoms consistent with contagious disease, the visit may be terminated.

All incarcerated people residing in a facility in “OPEN” phase of the Roadmap to Reopening are now eligible for in-person visitation, regardless of vaccination status.

Incarcerated people in isolation are not eligible for in-person visiting.

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.

Visitors will need to schedule visits at the time designated for the institution in which their loved one is housed. Start times will be separated by region: Northern, Central and Southern.

Northern Region

The VSA request period will open from 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. for the following institutions in the Northern region:

  • California Correctional Center
  • Central California Women’s Facility
  • California Health Care Facility
  • California Medical Facility
  • California State Prison – Sacramento
  • California State Prison – Solano
  • Folsom State Prison
  • High Desert State Prison
  • Mule Creek State Prison
  • Pelican Bay State Prison
  • Sierra Conservation Center
  • San Quentin State Prison
  • Valley State Prison

Central Region

The VSA request period will open from 6:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. for the following institutions in the Central region:

  • Avenal State Prison
  • California Correctional Institution
  • California Men’s Colony
  • California State Prison – Corcoran
  • Correctional Training Facility
  • Kern Valley State Prison
  • North Kern State Prison
  • Pleasant Valley State Prison
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison – Corcoran
  • Salinas Valley State Prison
  • Wasco State Prison

Southern Region

The VSA request period will open from 7 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. for the following institutions in the Central region:

  • California City Correctional Facility
  • Calipatria State Prison
  • Centinela State Prison
  • California Institution for Men
  • California Institution for Women
  • California Rehabilitation Center
  • California State Prison – Los Angeles County
  • Chuckawalla Valley State Prison
  • Ironwood State Prison
  • Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

The request period begins eight days prior to the visitation day and closes five days prior to the visitation day. See table below for examples:

Day of VisitRequest Window OpensRequest Window Closes
Friday, December 17Northern: 6 a.m.
Central: 6:30 a.m.
Southern: 7 a.m.
Thursday, December 9
11:59 PM
Sunday, December 12
Saturday, December 18Northern: 6 a.m.
Central: 6:30 a.m.
Southern: 7 a.m.
Friday, December 10
11:59 PM
Monday, December 13
Sunday, December 19Northern: 6 a.m.
Central: 6:30 a.m.
Southern: 7 a.m.
Saturday, December 11
11:59 PM
Tuesday, December 14

Scheduling for in-person visits at California Health Care Facility-Stockton (CHCF) may be made beginning Saturday at 8am through Monday at 8am on the week of the proposed visit by emailing the institution directly at CHCFVideoVisiting@cdcr.ca.gov. In-person visits are held on Fridays and Saturdays at CHCF.

For example, a prospective visitor may email for an in-person visiting reservation starting Sat., Oct. 23 through Mon., Oct. 25 for a visit to take place on Fri. Oct. 29 or Sat. Oct. 30.

Video visits take place on Sunday’s at CHCF, and must be made using the Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA).

When trying to claim your account, you may get the following error:

“Cannot claim account as the names and date you entered matched more than one record.”

You are getting this error message because you have more than one CDCR Visitor ID in CDCR’s system.  CDCR will need to correct this before you can claim your account.

After getting this error message, please call the institution’s visiting staff and let them know that you are receiving an error message and unable to claim an account. Please be prepared to share the following information with visiting staff:

  • The first and last name of visitor
  • Visitor ID (if known)
  • First and last name of inmate you wish to visit
  • CDCR number of the incarcerated person you would like to visit

Only CDCR staff can correct this account problem. Please do not contact GTL’s Support Desk.

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.

Each incarcerated person will be allowed an in-person visit from minors (the age of 18 and under) once the institution they wish to visit has reached “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening.

Children under the age of two are now permitted to visit – they are not required to wear a face mask, but must screen negative for COVID symptoms the day of visit.

As part of the department’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, visitors must:

  • Self-screen negative for COVID-19 symptoms the day of visit.
  • Wear a mask when required.

CDCR has updated masking requirements for all in-person visitors. The following guidance is effective immediately:

  • For indoor, in-person visits where the entire facility is in the OPEN Phase of the Roadmap to Reopening AND Center for Disease Control (CDC) county transmissibility rates are low: Procedure mask optional but encouraged, regardless of vaccination status.
  • For indoor, in-person visits where one or more housing units is in the OUTBREAK Phase of the Roadmap to Reopening AND/OR CDC County Transmissibility is MEDIUM OR HIGH: Procedure mask will be required for all visitors above the age of two, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Masks are optional while outdoors.

CDCR’s Roadmap to Reopening: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/reopening/

Persons scheduled for an in-person visit should plan to arrive at least one hour prior to their scheduled visit time.

The duration of an in-person visit varies on the individual needs of the institution, including availability and demand. In-person visits are offered at a minimum of two hours. Please see the Facility Visiting Status page for information specific to the institution you wish to visit.

All visiting will be determined based on health and safety considerations as outlined in the Roadmap to Reopening.

No. Personal gloves, hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer wipes are not permitted inside the institution during visiting. Visitors may wear their own mask prior to entering the grounds of the institution; however, when a mask is required or desired for a visit, CDCR staff will provide one.

CDCR has updated masking requirements for all in-person visitors. The following guidance is effective immediately:

  • For indoor, in-person visits where the entire facility is in the OPEN Phase of the Roadmap to Reopening AND Center for Disease Control (CDC) county transmissibility rates are low: Procedure mask optional but encouraged, regardless of vaccination status.
  • For indoor, in-person visits where one or more housing units is in the OUTBREAK Phase of the Roadmap to Reopening AND/OR CDC County Transmissibility is MEDIUM OR HIGH: Procedure mask will be required for all visitors above the age of two, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Masks are optional while outdoors.

CDCR’s Roadmap to Reopening: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/reopening/

CDCR cannot make exceptions for visitors in order to protect the health and safety of all those working and living within the facility. Those unable to wear a mask when required will not be allowed entry.

Children under the age of two are not required to wear a face mask, but must screen negative for COVID symptoms the day of visit.

CDCR has updated masking requirements for all in-person visitors. The following guidance is effective immediately:

  • For indoor, in-person visits where the entire facility is in the OPEN Phase of the Roadmap to Reopening AND Center for Disease Control (CDC) county transmissibility rates are low: Procedure mask optional but encouraged, regardless of vaccination status.
  • For indoor, in-person visits where one or more housing units is in the OUTBREAK Phase of the Roadmap to Reopening AND/OR CDC County Transmissibility is MEDIUM OR HIGH: Procedure mask will be required for all visitors above the age of two, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Masks are optional while outdoors.

CDCR’s Roadmap to Reopening: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/reopening/

CDCR is expanding allowable physical contact during visiting. Effective immediately:

• At the beginning and end of each visit, incarcerated persons and their visitor(s) may briefly embrace and kiss.

• Incarcerated persons and their visitors may hold hands during the visit.

• An incarcerated person may hold minor children accompanying visitor.

If a visitor does not appear for their scheduled appointment, they may reschedule for another time if visiting appointments are available.

There are several reasons an incarcerated person may be unable to make it to their scheduled visit, including disciplinary issues, a positive COVID test, or a medical quarantine. Individuals on quarantine may not participate in video or in-person visiting. It is the responsibility of the incarcerated person to communicate to their loved ones if they are not able to visit. Please also check the Facility Visiting Status page frequently for the phase status of each institution and institution-specific contact information.

Walk-in visits are currently being allowed at most institutions.

All incarcerated people residing in a facility in “OPEN” phase of the Roadmap to Reopening are now eligible for walk-in visits, regardless of vaccination status.

Incarcerated people in isolation are not eligible for in-person visiting.

Please check the Facility Visiting Status page for institution-specific information and also continue to check the visiting website for updates.

Vending machine items will be available when an institution reaches “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening.

Until an institution reaches this phase, each visitor and incarcerated person will be offered a bottle of water while visiting. The bottles must be discarded prior to leaving the visiting room.

Yes. All tables, chairs, doorknobs, counters and other high-touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected in between visits.

In-person marriage ceremonies may be scheduled and facilitated at adult institutions in “Open Phase” 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

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 in “Outbreak Phase”, 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.

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.

A visitor may visit only one incarcerated person on the same yard at a time.

The Photo Ducat Program will resume at institutions in “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening.

During the process of taking photos, the following guidelines must be adhered to:

  • A maximum of four participants per photo will be permitted at one time (Incarcerated person, plus three visitors).
  • When masked, individuals may briefly remove face covering while being photographed.
  • Once photo is taken, all individuals must adhere to all existing COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

To accommodate the limited visiting schedule, all visits will begin at the scheduled appointment time, with no exceptions. CDCR’s comprehensive guidelines for visiting, including dress code, are available here

Yes, but using the restroom during visiting will not stop the visiting appointment time. The duration of the visit will begin and end at the scheduled appointment time.

Most Friends Outside visitor centers are offering services. Please see the Friends Outside website for additional information: http://www.friendsoutside.org/Programs-and-Services/Visitor-Centers

Transportation vehicles have reduced their capacity to at least 75 percent to allow for adequate physical distancing. Masks will be required during the entire transport. Visitors to facilities that require a shuttle should plan for an earlier arrival.

In-person visiting is now available at conservation (fire) camps on Saturdays and Sundays. Camps in “Open Phase” 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.

Many institutions will offer both video and in-person visitation, where feasible. See the Facility Visiting Status page for designated in-person and video visiting days for each institution.

There will be no limits per month on the number of visits a person can schedule. Visits will be determined based on availability, demand as well as health and safety.

Due to the fluid situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting may be subject to suspension without advance notice. Visitors should check the Visitation Information webpage, and Visiting Facility Status Page regularly for updates and information.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS), value the health and safety of all staff, incarcerated people, and visitors.

CDCR and CCHCS have a Heat Illness Prevention Plan set in place at each institution and are taking the following steps to ensure everyone participating in an in-person visit stays safe during an extreme heatwave: 

  • Visiting staff will ensure there is sufficient shade in areas where visitors wait for shuttles or processing. Water stations will be added where possible. 
  • Visiting staff will closely monitor the temperature of visiting areas, which are controlled by air conditioning, fans, and/or other portable cooling units. When necessary, institutions will utilize additional portable cooling units to bring the temperature to a suitable level.  
  • Staff will observe visitors and incarcerated people for signs of heat-related illnesses. Visitors and incarcerated people are advised to alert staff if they are feeling unwell. 
  • Those participating in a Family Visit will be monitored to ensure they have enough water and that family visiting units are at a safe temperature.   
  • Visitors are encouraged to stay hydrated throughout the day and drink water often, not just when thirsty. CDCR is ensuring all vending machines in visiting areas are fully stocked with cool beverages, especially water and Gatorade. 
  • During a heatwave, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing light, looser-fitting clothing. However, there will be no exceptions to CDCR’s existing proper attire policies. Most notably, the following attire will not be permitted: strapless, halter, bare midriff, sheer/transparent clothing, skirts, dresses, or shorts that expose more than two inches above the knee.  

Please note: Institution administrators may suspend visiting operations at any time based on safety, security, health and resources.  

View CDCR/CCHCS extreme heat safety plan here.  

Tips on how to stay safe during times of extreme heat: https://bit.ly/3RtosYF

If you have followed all the steps to make your appointment and still require assistance, please contact the Visiting Sergeant at the institution you would like to visit. You can find the Visiting Sergeant list here.