Prison Visiting Norms

General Rules

Inmates are informed of changes that may occur in visiting regulations. It is the responsibility of each inmate to inform his/her visitor(s) of these changes.

Any violation of visiting regulations may result in the suspension of visiting privileges.

Visiting rules may vary slightly from prison to prison. Rules are posted at each prison. Visitors should make sure to educate themselves about a specific prison’s local visiting rules/policies. Inmates in administrative custody or disciplinary custody have different visiting rules. They are aware of the rules and should relay them to their visitors.

Vehicles must be locked while on prison property. Windows must be rolled up/closed. All equipment must be secured in or on your vehicle (such as ladders, tool boxes).

NEVER bring any gifts or money for the inmate. This must be done through Prisons will NOT accept money to be placed on an inmate’s account.

Cell phones and/or pagers are not permitted inside the prisons. They must be properly secured in your locked vehicle prior to entering the prisons.

Any kind of device, whether worn or hand held, that has the capability of audio and/or video/photography recording and/or cell phone capabilities is NOT permitted.  This could include, but is not limited to, eye glasses, tie tacks, lapel pins, wrist watches, pens, etc.

No purses, bags, diaper bags, etc., are permitted.

Due to space restrictions, visits may be terminated on a first in, first out basis, to make room for visitors that may be waiting.

Visiting room officers may assign specific seating locations for visitors and inmates, especially for those who are suspected of or have displayed problems with obeying procedures.

Unused visits per week may not be carried over into the following week. It’s a “use them or lose them” rule.

At most facilities, lockers are available for use. Some lockers may require a deposit ranging from 25 cents to $10. Items not permitted in the visiting room should either be left in your vehicle or placed in the locker. All vehicles and lockers are subject to search.

It is possible that an inmate may not wish to visit even though the visitor is at the prison. The DOC cannot force an inmate to conduct a visit if he/she does not wish to do so.

To ensure visitors get at least one hour with their inmate, visitors should arrive as early in the day as possible. In order to ensure a visit, visitors MUST arrive at least one hour prior to visiting room closure time.

Visitors should realize that some inmates have to walk across the prison compound to the visiting room area and then be processed for the visit – all which takes a significant amount of time. So arriving early ensures the best visiting experience.

It is suggested that visitors try to visit on weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends tend to be very busy.

Visitors requiring medication during the visit (such as inhalers or insulin injections) must advise the visiting room officer and the lobby officer upon arrival at the prison and follow appropriate procedures. Visitors are responsible for providing their own medication(s).

Visitors with any kind of orthopedic hardware need to present a card, from the attending physician, documenting the hardware, in order to be granted a contact visit.

Visitors are responsible for supervision of and for keeping control of their minor visitors.

For prisons that allow money in visiting rooms, nothing larger than coins, $1 bills and $5 bills are permitted, with a total limit of $50. All cash must be contained in a clear plastic bag or small clear change purse. Staff will not make change. Please note: Many facilities do not allow money in the visiting rooms but instead use vending machine cards. These can require a $20 bill upon first use. Please look up your facility’s Visiting Days and Times to get details on what your facility’s policy on money in the visiting room is.

Visiting rooms are smoke and tobacco free areas. Electronic cigarettes are NOT permitted.

There is no waiting area, so do not bring someone who cannot visit if they are intending to wait for you at the facility. Anyone who is not visiting shall be required to exit the facility grounds.

What to expect when you arrive at the facility

Illegal drugs and/or paraphernalia, alcohol, weapons, cameras and tape/video/digital recorders are not permitted on prison grounds at any time.

Cell phones and/or pagers are not permitted inside facilities. They must be properly secured in your vehicle prior to entering the facility.

All visitor vehicles are subject to search.

Any driver/owner and passengers in the vehicle will not be permitted to visit if the driver/owner refuses a vehicle search and is subjected to visiting suspension.

You must lock your vehicle. Windows must be rolled up/closed, and all equipment must be secured in or on your vehicle (such as ladders, tool boxes).

Children and/or animals may not be left unattended in the vehicle.

Any alcohol, drugs and/or weapons found in the vehicle or on your person can result in the visit being denied and/or the Pennsylvania State Police being called to the prison.

At most prisons, if you drive a personal vehicle to the prison, you must register the vehicle information with the visiting room officer. This information is needed: year, make, model and license plate number.

Prisons have inmates who perform janitorial services or duties outside of the prison perimeter. You are not permitted to have contact or conversations with them as you are reporting to the visiting room area. Doing so could jeopardize your visiting privileges.

While in the visiting room, you may not talk with other inmates or their guests.

Identification needed to visit

All visitors, regardless of age, must have proper forms of identification in order to visit. One photo ID or two non-photo ID’s required for all visitors, including children and infants.

Adults must have ONE of the following proper forms of identification:

  • Driver’s license or ID card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, sex, height, eye color, and address
  • ID card issued by a federal, state, or local government agencies or entities provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, sex, height, eye color, and address
  • School ID, with photograph
  • U.S. Passport
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (INS Form N-560 or N-561)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (INS Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card with photograph (INS Form I-151 or I-551)
  • Temporary Resident Card (INS Form I-688)
  • Any other form of identification that contains a photograph


TWO of these forms of ID (one of which must contain a physical description of the person):

  • Voter’s registration card
  • U.S. Military card or draft record
  • Vehicle Registration
  • U.S. social security card issued by the Social Security Administration
  • Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority, or outlying possession of the United State bearing an official seal
  • U.S. Citizen ID Card (INS Form I-197)
  • ID Card for use of Resident Citizen in the United States (INS Form I-179)
  • School record or report card
  • Clinic, doctor, immunization, or hospital record
  • Day-care or nursery school report
  • Learner’s Permit or Temporary Driver’s License
  • Native American Tribal document

Any form of identification that is provided and has passed the expiration date indicated on that document will not be accepted. Photo copies of any ID will NOT be accepted.

A visitor who cannot produce acceptable identification will NOT be permitted to visit unless approved by the facility manager/designee.

A visitor who falsifies identifying information will be suspended/barred from the facility for a period of time determined by the facility manager/designee.

Anyone who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance will not be permitted into the prison.

You must be on the inmate’s visitor’s list. DOC cannot tell you if you are on the list. It is up to the inmate to inform his/her visitor(s). If you are not on the visitor’s list, you will not be permitted to visit with the inmate.

You must be 18 or older to visit, unless you are accompanied by a parent or guardian who is also on the inmate’s visitor’s list or unless you are the legal spouse of the inmate.

You may only be on one inmate’s visitor’s list at a time.

Every visitor, regardless of their age, is subject to search.

If a visitor refuses to be searched before entering the prison, visiting privileges may be denied. If a visitor refuses to be searched while in the prison or upon leaving the prison, they may be detained until the appropriate law enforcement arrives.

Every visitor must successfully pass through a metal detector in order to be permitted into the visiting room. Women should wear bras but they cannot have underwire. Underwires will not pass successfully through the metal detector.

Facilities may use dogs to conduct passive drug screenings or special devices to detect illegal drugs. Failure to pass these screenings could result in your visit being denied.

At most facilities, but not all, lockers are available to store your personal items that are not permitted in the visiting room. At some facilities a refundable deposit may be required to use the lockers. Facilities that do not offer lockers will require items to be locked in your vehicle.

Visits cannot be split over several days. As an example: a visitor cannot come on Monday for 30 minutes and then return on Tuesday for another 30 minute visits. If an inmate or visitor terminates a visit for lunch, the visit may not be continued after lunch. (Trays will be available for inmates when they return to the block if visits extend over a meal.)

You will be required to sign in upon arrival and to sign out prior to leaving.