Processing of Visitors

Processing Times

The processing of visitors and the movement of the line begins at the time posted for visiting to begin. Processing continues until an hour before the time posted for visiting to end.

Processing of visitors may be suspended at times due to staffing issues or a temporary emergency. Delays in visitor processing cannot be predicted, and last only as long as necessary to manage the issue(s) causing the delay.

Passes and Computer Checks

Every adult visitor must fill out a pass each time he/she visits. The pass calls for the prisoner’s name and CDCR number, the relationship of the visitor to the prisoner (spouse, mother, friend, etc.), the visitor’s name and address, and the visitor’s signature. If the adult visitor is bringing in minor children, he/she lists the names of the children on the pass.

The completed pass is submitted to staff. Using a computer, staff checks the prisoner’s file to make sure the visitor is an approved visitor and that the prisoner is eligible to visit on that day. Staff marks the pass with the prisoner’s housing and notes whether the visit is contact or non-contact.

The pass, along with the visitor’s identification, is the visitor’s “key” to get into and out of the prison. Although the pass and identification may be held by staff once the visitor gets to the visiting room, it will be returned to the visitor upon leaving the visiting room.

Searches of Visitors

It is a felony for anyone to attempt to bring into the prison any drugs or weapons. It is against prison rules, and sometimes is a criminal offense for which one can be prosecuted, for anyone to attempt to bring in any item not allowed by the prison. Visitors are required to follow all rules, regulations, and laws while on institution grounds. To ensure that prohibited items are not allowed into the prison, all visitors and their possessions are searched before the visitor is allowed to visit.

Visitors must remove all outer clothing (jackets, sweaters, etc.), shoes, and any jewelry that will set off the metal detector. Those items are placed along with other allowable items (money, comb, baby items, etc.) on either a conveyor belt for an x-ray search or on a counter for a manual search by staff. The visitor, including all minors, must clear a metal detector. If a visitor has an implant or a prosthesis that prevents him/her from clearing a metal detector or if he/she cannot go through a metal detector (because, for example, he/she cannot get out of his/her wheelchair), staff will use a hand-held metal-detector on the visitor as long as the visitor has presented a letter from a medical doctor verifying the location of the implant or prosthesis.

Visitors who, for religious reasons, cannot remove all outer clothing (such as scarves, burkas, yarmulke, etc.) will be taken to a private room where they can remove the item and staff of the same gender will use a wand to search.

Visitors with devices to assist their mobility (wheelchairs, canes, etc.) may be required to exchange their device for a prison-issued device and exchange back as they leave the prison.

Children are subject to the same searches. A child too young to walk through a metal detector alone may be carried through the metal detector by the adult visitor escorting the child in.

Any search beyond the searching of belongings and the clearing of the metal detector is allowed only if there is cause to believe the visitor is attempting to bring a prohibited item into the prison. If such cause exists, the visitor must be advised, in writing, of the reason for the search and the name of the prison official ordering the search. The visitor has a right to refuse the search, but the refusal will result in the visitor not being allowed to visit for the day; and may result in future visits being conditioned upon a search greater than the usual search of belongings, and clearing a metal detector, for as long as staff has cause to believe the visitor is attempting to bring in a prohibited item.

Visitors may not be searched without their consent unless there is a warrant that requires such a search or unless the visitor is being detained for arrest for unlawful actions that present an immediate and significant threat to prison security. Actions which do not present an immediate and significant threat to prison security but are nonetheless unlawful, may result in the visitor being detained or escorted off prison grounds and prison officials referring the matter to local law enforcement, but may not result in a request of the visitor to submit to search by prison staff.

After clearing the metal detector, staff will stamp the back of one of the visitor’s hands with an ultraviolet ink stamp. At most prisons, visitors are required to put their hands under an ultraviolet light and show the stamp as they exit the visiting room and/or prison.

Getting to the Visiting Room

Most prisons have more than one visiting room. Staff will write which visiting room the visitor is to go to on the pass. At most prisons, visitors walk from the processing center to the visiting room; but at some prisons, visitors must wait for a prison bus or van to take them from the processing center to the visiting room.