How to Get Approved to Visit an Incarcerated Person
Step 1: Receive Signed Visitor Questionnaire
You must apply for approval to visit by completing a Visitor Questionnaire (CDCR Form 106). You obtain the Visitor Questionnaire by having the prisoner you wish to visit send the form to you. The incarcerated person must sign the questionnaire before sending it to the prospective visitor; the signature confirms the prisoner’s agreement to have the applicant added to his/her visiting list.
Step 2: Complete the Visitor Questionnaire
It is important to fill out the questionnaire completely. The questionnaire calls for the applicant to list all criminal convictions and all arrests, even if the arrest never led to charges or conviction. CDCR will conduct a background check for arrests and convictions when processing the application and will deny approval to visit if the check indicates an arrest or conviction not listed on the questionnaire, so you should be thorough when completing the questionnaire. It is important to note that any contact with law enforcement may result in a record of the contact in the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System, and may require clarification by the applicant. If you are unable to remember all the specifics about an arrest or conviction, be as specific as you can in providing the approximate date and the cause of the arrest.
Step 3: Mail the Visitor Questionnaire
Mail the completed questionnaire to the Visiting Sergeant and/or Lieutenant where the prisoner you want to visit is housed. Mailing addresses can be found on each institution’s page and the list of Adult Institutions. Most prisons have different addresses for mail being sent to a prisoner and mail being sent to prison staff; be sure to get the address used for sending mail to prison staff, as the completed application should be sent to the attention of “Visiting” at the prison. Processing times for visiting questionnaires vary by institution based upon the volume of forms received and the number of staff approved to perform the review process.
Step 4: Receive Notice of Approval or Disapproval
If you are approved to visit, the incarcerated person is notified and they must notify you. Once approved, you are listed in the computer as being an approved visitor for the incarcerated person; you do not need to bring any proof of approval with you to the prison.
If you are disapproved, you will receive a letter from the prison setting forth the reason for disapproval; the prisoner will also receive notice of the disapproval but will not be given the reason. If you are denied approval to visit, you may reapply, you may appeal the denial and/or the prisoner may appeal the denial. If the reason for the denial is based on inaccurate or incomplete information on the Visitor Questionnaire, you may resubmit an accurate and complete questionnaire. Sometimes the reason for denial is that the prison requires additional information (for example, evidence that the applicant is no longer on probation); in those cases, you should resubmit the questionnaire and provide the additional information.
Appealing a Notice of Disapproval
If you do not agree with the reason given for the disapproval, you may appeal by writing to the Warden at the prison. He/she is required to respond to your appeal within 15 working days of receiving the appeal.
If dissatisfied with the institution’s response or action, you may refer your appeal, with a copy of the institution’s decision, to the Director of the Division of Adult Institutions or his/her designee at: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Adult Institutions, P. O. Box 942883, Sacramento, California, 94283-0001, Attention: Director, Room 351-N
A written response to appeals addressed to the Director shall be provided within 20 working days from the date of receipt. The prisoner may independently appeal the denial of approval by utilizing the normal prisoner appeal process within the prison.
Emergency or Hardship Visits
Sometimes emergency or hardship visits are allowed before a person has been approved to visit. Such visits are at the discretion of prison staff (usually the Visiting Sergeant or Lieutenant) and are usually to accommodate an unexpected visitor traveling from a distance in excess of 250 miles. You should not rely on receiving approval to visit without going through the normal visiting application process. Whenever possible, you should plan ahead for visits and have each adult who might want to visit submit applications before they embark on a trip that will include a visit to a prisoner.