Visiting an inmate in New York

Visiting Applications and Rules for Visiting Inmates in New York State

Visiting an inmate has proven to be an important and effective way of increasing the likelihood of an offenders successful reintegration with society.  The New York Department of Corrections utilizes a privilege based visiting system, which means that visitors and inmates who violate visitation rules will be disciplined and may lose visiting privileges.  Additionally, inmates may lose visiting privileges if they have disciplinary infractions against them.

One of the main challenges the New York Department of Corrections faces is the stigma attached with visiting a prison.  Prospective visitors often feel discouraged and overwhelmed at the visiting process not knowing where to start.  To make it easier for everyone we have assembled the most important things to know when visiting an inmate in New York State Prison.

  • New York State is one of the few places that does not require a visitors application before you visit.  The most important thing is to know the visiting hours of the institution (which we have listed on the individual facilities page), and contact the inmate to ensure they agree to having a visit from you.
  • In order to enter into visitation you will need to provide a valid photo identification.  Valid ID includes a driver's license, state issued ID, passport, and military ID.  Attorneys, law enforcement and officials may use a government issued employee photo ID, or a court issued employee photo ID/Unified court system attorney pass.
  • All visitors are required to read the rules and regulations and sign a statement that states they have been advised of the rules of visiting.
  • If you are visiting the correctional institution with a minor you should bring the minors birth certificate as identification.
  • All visitors will be searched and required to pass through a metal detector to enter into visitation.  Clothing with metal buttons, studs, buckles or other decorations, or underwire bras may be set off the metal detector and cause a further intrusive search to take place.  Upon visual inspection if it cannot be determined what set off the metal detector you may be asked to submit to a strip search, you may decline at anytime but you will not be allowed to attend the current visit (this will have no impact on future visits).  If you have a pacemaker or other medical device that will set off the metal detector be sure to bring medical paperwork.
  • The prison may also utilize an Ion Scanner which is a non-intrusive test that can detect drugs and explosives.  You may test positive for this and not have anything on you if you unknowingly came in contact with drugs or explosives.  A second test is taken if the first one is positive and if the second test is positive you will be denied entry for two consecutive days.
  • If you are visiting with an infant or small child you are allowd to bring a small diaper bad, three diapers, and plastic baby bottle which you may fill with milk or pre-measured formula.  Diapers must be changed in a designated area of the visiting room, and cannot be changed at the visiting table.

Additional information you may want to know when visiting an inmate in New York:

  • If you are loud, disruptive, arguing, or fail to comply with the orders of staff you will have your visit terminated.
  • Physical contact is strictly prohibited with the exception of a brief embrace and kiss at the start and end of a visiting session.
  • You should always call the facility before you visit to ensure the inmate has not been transferred and still has visiting privileges.
  • Purses, wallets, and electronics (including cell phones and cameras) should be left in your locked car, do not bring these items with you into the facility.
  • Animals and people may not be left in your car while you visit.
  • You may bring up to $20 in coin to purchase items from the vending machines in the visiting room.

Dress Code and Visiting Rules for Visitors of New York Inmates

One of the most important things to know about visiting an inmate in New York is about the dress code for visitors.  For the order, safety, and security of inmates, visitors, and staff everyone who visits a correctional facility must follow the dress code.  The dress code is strictly enforced and you will not be allowed to visit if an item of clothing you are wearing violates it.  Because of this we recommend you always bring a change of clothes with you and leave them in your car; this will enable you to quickly change if an item of clothing your are wearing is deemed unacceptable by a staff member.

  • Any clothing that exposes the midriff, back, shoulders, cleavage, thighs, or clothing that is sheer or see-through is not allowed.
  • Clothing that is tight or exposes excessive skin such as spandex, leggings, tube tops, tank tops, or halter tops are prohibited.
  • Visitors may not wear bathing suits or sandals, flip flops, or slippers.
  • Uniforms such as military or doctors/nurse scrubs are restricted from being worn.
  • Any items that cover the face including hats and bandanas are not allowed with the exception of religious items which may me worn but are still subject to search.
  • Skirts, shorts, and dresses that are shorter than mid thigh or have a slit above mid thigh are not allowed.
  • If your clothing contains obscene or offensive language or images or promotes drugs, alcohol, or sex you will not be allowed to visit.
  • Refrain from wearing clothing with metal in it, like metal studs, metal buttons, long zippers, decorations etc. as these will make the metal detector go off.
  • Refrain from wearing excessive jewelry and metal hair pins as these may make the metal detector go off.
  • Any visitor who appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be permitted to visit.
  • If you are visiting with children they must remain under your control at all times.  If they become disruptive and uncontrollable your visit will end early.

If you have a question, or have already visited your inmate in New York and would like to share your experience, please leave a comment below.  Additionally, if you know of some other useful information related to visiting an inmate in New York, please post it below.