Visiting an inmate in Illinois

Visiting Applications and Rules for Visiting an Inmate in Illinois

One of the things inmates look most forward to in prison is visitation.  Visitation is an integral part of an inmate's rehabilitation.  Often family members and friends feel discouraged when it comes to visiting an inmate.  They are overwhelmed just by the thought of entering a correctional facility and don't know what to expect, or what is expected of them.  Understanding the process and the rules of visiting is simple and to make it easier for everyone we have assembled some of the most important things you'll need to know before you visit your inmate in Illinois:

  • Anyone 17 years and older must be on an inmate's approved visitation list prior to visiting the inmate (attorneys, government/law enforcement officials are excluded from this).  In order to be added to an inmate's visitation list you must contact and request the inmate  to do so.
  • Illinois DOC will require you to fill out a Prospective Visitor's Interview Form, you should bring this completed form with you to your first visiting session.
  • The facility will not confirm if you are on an inmate's visitation list, they leave it up to the inmate to inform you, so you must contact the inmate by writing them a letter and asking if you have been approved yet for visitation.
  • All visitors are searched and go through metal detectors.
  • All visits may be monitored and recorded, with the exception of attorney/privileged visits.
  • Inmates in the general population or in protective custody may receive five visits per month, only one of the visits may be on the weekend.
  • Generally inmates are allowed two hour weekday visits and one hour visits on the weekends.
  • An inmate may only have one visit in a day.
  • Generally inmates are allowed three visitors at a time (anyone two years and older is counted as a visitor).
  • If an inmate is in disciplinary segregation they will not be allowed to have visits (clergy and attorney visits will still be allowed).
  • All adult visitors must bring valid photo ID such as a driver's license, state ID, or passport/visa.  The department of correction requires you to bring two forms of photo ID's with you.  In addition to ID you are also required to bring valid vehicle registration.
  • If you are a government/law enforcement official, attorney or law student you will be required to provide credentials.
  • Leave purses, ipods, cell phones, camera's and all other electronic devices in your vehicle, be sure to lock it.
  • Some correctional facilities will allow you to rent a locker for a quarter to store your items in, but generally only bring your ID's, single car key, and a vending machine card if purchased.
  • Vending machine debit cards can be purchased (usually at the gatehouse) that will allow you to purchase a variety of food items during visitation.  The cards are non-refundable and only valid at the correctional facility.  All foods purchased must be consumed or discarded at the end of visitation, no items can leave the facility with you.

Some additional important information you may want to know when visiting an inmate in Illinois:

  • If a facility goes on lockdown visitation will be canceled until the lockdown is lifted.  To get a current list of facilities in lockdown you can call 1-877-840-3220.
  • Do not bring any tobacco products including lighters into the facility.  Weapons, drugs, and other items are prohibited from entering the facility grounds, if they are in your car you may get into trouble as your car will be searched too.
  • If you are visiting with a small child/baby you may be allowed to bring additional items, including two diapers, baby food, two plastic baby bottles, and a single baby blanket.  These items vary depending on the correctional facility so contact them by telephone and ask about a specific baby related item.
  • Once you are seated in visitation you may not change tables or your seat.  If you use the restroom during a visit you will be searched after you use the restroom.
  • Visitors who are loud, unruly, disruptive or exhibit disrespectful behavior will have their visit terminated.
  • If you are traveling a very long distance to visit your inmate, you or the inmate can submit a written request to the warden/assistant warden to have additional or extended visits.  This request must be filled well in advance of the visit.  The duration and eligibility of the extended visit will be determined by the warden, but no visit will be over four hours in length.


Dress Code/Contact Rules for Visitors of Illinois Inmates

Another important thing you need to know when visiting a prison in Illinois is that you must follow a dress code.  Any visitor who fails to follow all of the rules below will not be allowed to enter into visitation.  Remember the best thing you can do when visiting a prison is bring a change of clothing and leave it in your car, this will enable you to change if one of the items you are wearing is deemed inappropriate.

  • Shirts/tops that are low cut, see through, or expose the midriff, back, cleavage or contain cut outs are prohibited from being worn.
  • You may not wear tube tops, halter tops, tank tops, or swim suits.
  • Skirts, dresses and shorts must extend to the knees.
  • Tight clothing such as spandex, and leggings may not be worn.
  • Underwear, including bras must be worn.
  • Hats and other items that cover the face may not be worn, unless for religious significance, in which case it will still be removed from the person and searched.
  • Any clothing that closely resembles the inmates clothes or the staffs clothes is prohibited.
  • Uniforms such as military or doctors/nurse scrubs are restricted from being worn.
  • If your clothing contains offensive language or images you will not be allowed to visit.

If you are planning on visiting an inmate in Illinois and have questions, or have already visited your inmate and would like to share your experience, please leave us a comment.  If you know of some other useful information that we don't have listed here, please post it below.