Video and In-Person Visitation Frequently Asked Questions

Reopening In-Person Visiting Program FAQ

Overview

CDCR began reopening for in-person and hybrid in-person/video visiting on April 10, 2021, with continued COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place to protect staff, incarcerated people, and visitors.

CDCR is expanding its in-person visiting at 35 institutions as part of its Roadmap to Reopening. You can find a copy of the Roadmap at https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/reopening/roadmap-to-reopening-of-in-person-visiting-and-video-visits/.

The department’s 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 in-person visiting at each institution which can be found at https://visitorreservations.cdcr.ca.gov/VisitingStatus.aspx .

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.

Beginning April 10, 2021, CDCR began reopening institutions for limited, in-person visiting.

CDCR is expanding its in-person visiting at each institution using the phased and tailored approach outlined in the Roadmap to Reopening. Any institutions in Phase II or Phase III of the roadmap will be permitted to conduct in-person visiting.

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

Fully vaccinated visitors may present their 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.

Unvaccinated visitors must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit, or undergo a point-of-care (rapid) COVID-19 test prior to admission into the institution. Visitors may provide proof of their test result by showing institution staff a paper copy or digital copy on their phone (phones may not be brought inside the prison). Test results will remain with the visitor and will not be collected or documented by staff.

Tests performed off-site must be either a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests or a rapid Point-of-Care test. Antibody tests will not be accepted. Based on testing availability and the time necessary to process test results on-grounds, CDCR strongly urges visitors to obtain a viral COVID-19 test prior to their visit. The supply of rapid tests is limited and a test is not guaranteed. Visitors will not be allowed into the institution without proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Find testing locations near you through the California Department of Public Health website.

No. Fully vaccinated visitors may present their 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.

In-person visits will be scheduled by email with each prison’s visiting staff until further notice, using the same system that loved ones used to schedule video visits before the implementation of the Visiting Scheduling Automation (VSA). Visitors should do the following:

  • Visit CDCR’s Visiting Status Update webpage to check on the visiting status of the facility they want to visit.
  • Email appointment requests will be taken weekly beginning one week before the intended visit. Reservations will open on Saturday  at 8 a.m. and will be accepted based on availability through the following Monday at 8 a.m for visits the following weekend.

For example: The email reservation scheduling window for an in-person visit to take place the weekend of May 22-23 begins 8 a.m., Friday May 15 and continues through Monday, 8 a.m. May 17.

  • Visitors will not be able to select a time using the email system. A confirmation email will be sent notifying the visitor of the scheduled time. Be sure to check your junk/spam folder for these confirmations, especially if it’s your first time making a reservation by email.

Please note that emails received outside the timeframe allowed will not be rolled over to the following weekend for review. Not all reservations may be accepted because of reduced capacity due to physical distancing and  sanitizing between visits. Appointments are first-come, first-served; however, visitors will not be able to schedule multiple visits on the same day. If approved for a visit, the visitor will receive a confirmation email by close-of-business the Wednesday prior to the visiting day. If no confirmation email is received by that time, that means the visit was not approved. Visiting staff will monitor scheduling to ensure equity in the scheduling process (i.e., rescheduling if some visitors are able to secure multiple visits while others have not been able to schedule one.)

Between 8 a.m. Saturday through 8 a.m Monday the week before your anticipated visit, please submit your request to the e-mail address for the institution you wish to visit below.

In the email, visitors must provide the following information in their visitation appointment request:

  • Inmate Name
  • Inmate CDCR Number
  • Approved Visitor(s) Full Name(s)
  • Date of Birth
  • Valid Identification Type and Number
  • Relationship to the Inmate
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number

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 inmate you would like to visit.

Only CDCR staff can correct this account problem. Please do not contact GTL’s Support Desk. We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

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 up to two minors over the age of two once the institution they wish to visit has reached Phase III of the Roadmap to Reopening.

All visitors, including minors over the age of two, are subject to the same testing/vaccination requirements as adult visitors based on public health guidance. 

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

  • Fully Vaccinated visitors: May present their 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.
  • Unvaccinated visitors: Must provide proof of a negative viral COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit, or undergo a point-of-care (rapid) COVID-19 test prior to admission into the institution.
    • Tests performed off-site must be either a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests or a Rapid Point of Care test. Antibody tests will not be accepted.
    • Based on testing availability and the time necessary to process test results on-grounds, CDCR strongly urges visitors to obtain a viral COVID-19 test prior to their visit. Find testing locations near you at https://covid19.ca.gov/get-tested/.
  • Receive verbal symptom screening and touchless temperature at the entrance of the prison.
  • Wear procedure (surgical) mask at all times during the visit.

Additionally, visitors will be:

  • Provided procedure mask at the entrance.
  • Provided hand sanitizer during the visit.
  • Properly spaced apart from others, including the person they are visiting, by at least six feet.

Persons scheduled for an in-person visit should plan to arrive at least one hour prior to their scheduled visit time. Please be mindful that if the visitor does not bring a negative COVID-19 test and needs to receive a rapid COVID-19 test, the time may be impacted. In order to accommodate every visitor, visits may not be extended or rescheduled due to testing or transportation delays.

If visitors travel to the institution in the same vehicle, and anyone tests positive for COVID-19, every individual who travelled in that vehicle will be unable to visit.

We urge visitors to arrive to the institution with a negative COVID-19 test completed in advance to avoid such circumstances.

All visitors, including vaccinated individuals, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit, or undergo a point-of-care (rapid) COVID-19 test prior to admission into the institution. Tests performed off-site must be either a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests or a rapid Point-of-Care test. Antibody tests will not be accepted. The supply of on-site rapid tests is limited and not guaranteed. Visitors will not be allowed into the institution without proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Find testing locations near you through the California Department of Public Health website

The duration of an in-person visit is based on which phase the facility within an institution, as outlined in the Roadmap to Reopening. Each incarcerated person will be eligible for one, two-hour in-person visit per day if their institution status falls into Phase II or Phase III of the Roadmap. All visiting will be determined based on availability and health and safety considerations.

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, CDCR staff will provide all visitors with a procedure mask. Staff will require all visitors to temporarily remove their mask for identification and for inspection purposes during processing. Visitors may discard their masks in institutional trash once they receive a procedure mask from staff, or they may store their cloth masks in lockers if available at the institution.

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 procedure mask will not be allowed entry.

Outdoor visitation is preferred and will be offered unless precluded by weather, poor air quality, security, or other concerns. COVID-19 protocols, including masks, six feet of physical distancing, and cleaning between visits will be followed regardless of whether the visit takes place indoors or outdoors.

Visitors may briefly embrace their loved one while masked upon greeting and again upon exiting the visiting room. We understand loved ones are eager to reunite, but at this time, physical contact must be limited to avoid spread of COVID-19.

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; however, the Visitors Information line, (800) 374-8474, will advise whether there is a medical quarantine and which parts of the institution are affected.

No. Only confirmed in-person visits will be allowed. No walk-in visits will be accommodated at this time. 

Vending machine items will be available when an institution reaches Phase III 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.

Due to limited capacity, CDCR is not currently offering in-person weddings at this time. Institutions have been instructed to accommodate video weddings, however, video marriages are conducted at the discretion of the local County Clerk and cannot be performed without approval from the County Clerk’s Office.

In order to maintain physical distancing requirements, a visitor may visit only one incarcerated person at a time.

Due to physical distancing requirements, the photo ducat program will not be available at this time.

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 60-minute timeline will begin and end at the scheduled appointment times.

Due to physical distancing efforts, the Friends Outside/Visiting Center will not be providing childcare. Additionally, Friends Outside/Visiting Center will only be available to store personal items if the visitor does not have their own personal vehicle.

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.

Not at this time. Video visiting will continue as normal.

CDCR made video visitation available at all institutions starting in late 2020. With the reopening of in-person visiting, many institutions will offer both video and in-person visitation, where feasible. See the Video Visitation webpage for more details on how to schedule a video visit at available institutions.

There will be no limits per month on the number of visits a person can schedule. Visits will be determined based on space capacity.

Due to the fluid situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting may be subject to suspension without advance notice. Visitors should check the Video Visitation webpage, and click on the “Visiting Facility Status” tab prior to their scheduled visit for updates and information.

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.

Video Visiting FAQ

Overview

The Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA) is now available at all 35 prisons. The VSA system allows approved visitors to easily schedule their own video visits and receive instant confirmation of their request.

33 institutions and most conservation camps now offer video visits. Please see our Visitation Information page and Visiting Facility Status for important updates.

Current approved visitors with access to a device with internet and a camera connection (i.e., smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer) will be able to participate in video visitation.

The Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA) is now available at 33 prisons. Please see the visitation information page for updates.

Requests for a video visit can be made using VSA beginning eight days prior to the date of the visit. Approved visitors have five days to schedule a video visit using VSA for a visit on the following weekend.

For example, the scheduling window for a video visit to take place on Sat., March 20 is from 12 a.m. March 12 through 11:59 p.m. March 16. For a visit on Sun. March 21, the scheduling window is 12 a.m. March 13 through 11:59 p.m. March 17.

Approved visitors must first claim an account to use the VSA to schedule a video visit. A step-by-step guide and video are available on CDCR’s website.

Approved visitors must send an email directly to the facility where your loved one is located within the timeframe dedicated at your camp. Visits are on Saturdays, Sundays and recognized holidays: New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Specific day and time requests cannot be accommodated due to the limited amount of appointments available. You will be assigned a day and time that cannot be changed. Please be sure that you are available during the designated times to ensure you can make your assigned appointment time.

Due to many Conservation Camps being located in remote areas, as well as the emergency response nature of the Conservation Camp Program, please be aware that a video visit may need to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances. If a video visit is canceled due to reasons such as deployment to an emergency or connectivity issues, CDCR staff will do our best to notify you prior to the scheduled visit that it is canceled.

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

Visitors MUST include the following information when emailing a request for a video visit: 

  • Inmate’s Full Name
    • Inmate CDCR Number
    • Assigned housing is preferred if available
    • Approved Visitor(s) Full Name(s)
    • Date of Birth
    • Valid Identification Type and Number
    • Relationship to the Inmate
    • Email Address
    • Phone Number

Approved visitors must go to the Visitation Scheduling website using the following link to open the Visitation Scheduling Application: https://cdcr.gtlvisitme.com/app.  First-time users must establish an account by selecting the Claim Account button. Accounts can only be claimed using a desktop computer at this time. You will then be asked to provide your first name, last name, and date of birth to validate that you are an approved visitor. 

You cannot create an account and use the application unless you have already gone through the CDCR visitor approval process.  Once you have entered the information requested, select Next.  You will then be asked to enter in a valid email address that will also serve as your username. After entering in your email, select Next. The next screen will ask you to verify the information you entered and verify you are not a Robot.  Once this is completed, select the Finish button to complete the process.  You will receive an email with your account information and temporary password.  After you receive your temporary password, go back to the website and enter in your email address that was used to set up your account and the temporary password.  Select Log on button and it will ask you to create a new password. It is very important that you remember your password.  Select the Update button after entering in your new password and confirming it. This will take you to your Home page on the Visitation Scheduling Application.  You will only have to do this process once.  After your account is successfully established, you will just simply go to the website and login as an existing user. You are now ready to schedule a video visit.

View the Visitation Scheduling Training Video.

To schedule a video visit you will need to go to the Visitation Scheduling Application at the following link https://cdcr.gtlvisitme.com/app.  Log into the application using your account username and password if you are an existing user.  If you are a new user, please refer to the FAQ “How do I get access to the Visitation Scheduling Application and what do I need to do to use the application to schedule a video visitation appointment?”  You can refer to the Visitor’s Quick Reference Guide on how to schedule a video visit on the CDCR Website [place the link here to the CDCR website).  The application will allow you to schedule a time slot that is available for your video visit.  Most visits will be available between 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday, so be sure that you are available during these times to make sure you can make your assigned appointment time.

Each video visit is one-hour long.

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.

The VSA system will allow approved visitors to easily schedule their own video visits and receive instant confirmation of their request. A subsequent email from Webex will follow, indicating the confirmed date and time of visit, as well as instructions on how to join the meeting from a computer or mobile device.

Visitors will receive an email confirming the appointment within 48-72 hours after the request is made.  Additionally, you will receive a link to a Cisco Webex meeting indicating scheduled date and time and instructions on how to join the meeting from a computer or a mobile device. Be sure to check your spam/junk folder if you don’t see this email.

No.  Visitors should ensure they include all required information when making a request to obtain the video visit.  Some reasons why you will not receive a visit include:

  • Requestor is not an approved visitor
  • All required information was not included in request

Make sure to check your junk/spam email folder to ensure you didn’t miss a confirmation email.

Approved visitors who do not receive a video visit will need to resubmit a request at the next eligibility date. 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. It is your loved one’s responsibility to inform approved visitors of their next eligibility date.

You may join from your internet browser. Please see the Webex step-by-step guide for installation and how to use the technology before a scheduled video visit.  If you cannot get or use the Webex software, you will not be able to participate in video visits. CDCR is unable to provide visitors with any computers/laptops/cell phones to conduct video visits.

Please see the Webex step-by-step guide to video visits available on our website. CDCR is unable to provide any further technical instruction to the public on the use of the technology. It is recommended that you ensure you have access to the software before your video visit.

No.  If a visitor does not appear for their scheduled appointment, it will still count as their monthly visit. The incarcerated individual they were scheduled to visit will still be able to receive a visit from an alternate visitor in that month. 

To accommodate the limited visiting schedule, all visits will begin at the scheduled appointment time, with no exceptions.

Yes, but using the restroom during a video visit will not stop the visiting appointment time.  The 60-minute timeline will begin and end at the scheduled appointment times.  Mobile devices when used by visitors may not accompany the visitor to the restroom during the video visit.  Misconduct by any party during a visit will result in termination of the video visit, and may include disciplinary action and/or visitor suspensions.

There is absolutely NO recording of video visits. Any visitors caught violating these restrictions could have their visiting privileges suspended.

If the video visit does not connect for any reason, that information shall be documented and forwarded to the scheduler(s) and the inmate will continue to be eligible to receive future video visits as early as the next weekend.

Yes, video visiting will take place on New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.  A request to visit on an approved holiday may be submitted a week prior to the holiday between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Example:  An approved visitor requesting 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.

  • If trying to connect on a laptop, ensure the laptop has camera capabilities.
  • Ensure your mute button is in the “off” position.
  • Ensure your device’s volume is turned up.

There is no maximum amount of approved visitors per request. All visitors are required to show identification before the video visit can begin. Keep in mind that verifying multiple visitors may decrease the amount of time spent seeing and speaking with your incarcerated loved one.  It is highly recommended to not exceed five approved visitors per video visit. To accommodate the limited visiting schedule, all visits will begin at the scheduled appointment time, with no exceptions. 

After you have followed the steps at https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/visitors/how-to-use-webex-to-join-a-video-visit/ , and still require assistance with setting up a device and/or assistance in scheduling an appointment for a video visit, please contact the Visiting Sergeant at the institution in which you would like to schedule a video visit.  You can find the Visiting Sergeant here: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/visitors/visiting-sergeant-lieutenant-phone-list/.

It is the responsibility of the requestor to ensure all approved visitors are added to the request. Staff are directed to be permissive to the possibility that others may at some point enter the video visit; however, inappropriate or illegal activity will not be tolerated. 

Yes. In order to reduce noise levels in video visiting areas and aid the hearing impaired, all incarcerated people are authorized to bring their personal earphones/headphones to their scheduled visit. They will be required to disinfect them prior to connecting them to the computer. Staff will direct individuals when and where to connect. Institutions have also been instructed to ensure canteens are well-stocked with earphones for purchase.

No. In order to maintain physical distancing requirements the visitor must schedule separate visiting request with the incarcerated individuals.

During this pandemic, it is the responsibility of CDCR to ensure consistent application of adherence to government orders, policies and procedures in order to provide for the safety and security of all who live in, work in, and visit state prisons.

  • Visits will be limited to all eligible incarcerated persons.
  • Visits will be conducted in visiting rooms/areas with physical distancing protocols in place.
  • All incarcerated individuals will be screened prior to leaving their housing unit.
  • All persons in the visiting area must wear masks that cover the nose and mouth.
  • Each video visit shall be 60-minutes.
  • Laptops and desktop computers will be set-up in designated visiting areas for the incarcerated population to access.  Those areas will follow all safety guidelines, including physical distancing. 
  • Disinfection and sanitation cleaning between appointments.

To maintain order, individual safety, the security of the institutions/facility, and operations, the rules established in California Code of Regulations, Title 15, Article 7 Visiting, shall apply during all video visits. Please ensure proper dress attire is adhered to, with the exception of color restrictions, which are not applicable for video visits. Misconduct by any party during a visit will result in termination of the video visit, and may include disciplinary action and/or visitor suspensions.    CDCR’s comprehensive guidelines for visiting are available at https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/visitors/inmate-visiting-guidelines/

Any inmate who violates COVID-19 guidelines will have their visit immediately terminated and will not be allowed to reschedule another visit for that month.  Repeated violations of COVID-19 guidelines may result in the suspension of visiting and/or lead to disciplinary action.

All video visits are secure. The communication is encrypted and CDCR processes ensure that approved visitors are validated and only those approved visitors may join the visit. 

Incarcerated people will use laptop computers in designated visiting areas; visitors do not need to be on prison grounds to connect to the video visits.