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Visitation

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The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) recognizes the importance of visitation in maintaining inmate relationships with family and loved ones. Maintaining relationships will not only make inmates’ experience while incarcerated more productive, but will also help inmates have a more successful reintegration into society. As such, visitation is an integral part of each institution.

Please note that visitation is a privilege, not a right, for both an inmate and visitor(s). 
All visitors must follow rules for visitation so that they may continue to see their loved ones. Visitation privileges may be revoked for inmates and visitors for violation of rules and regulations. Visitation can be suspended at any time based on conditions inside and outside the facilities.

What will visitation look like when I participate?
In general, visitors will drive to the prison and park, leaving prohibited items and personal possessions (wallet, cell phone, purse, etc.) in their locked vehicle. Visitors will walk to the visitation processing center to register. Visitors may be searched for contraband and/or asked to walk through a body scanner. Visitors will be told to leave if they do not follow the visitation dress code. 

Once processed, visitors will be directed to the visitation area and, depending on the facility, may walk there or be taken on a van or bus. Inmates will be notified of their visitors’ arrival and visitors may have to wait. 

If it is a contact visit, visitors will likely be in a cafeteria-type setting and allowed to touch the inmate in an appropriate manner. If it is a non-contact visit, visitors will not be allowed to touch but may communicate verbally. Visitations are supervised and will be allowed for the allotted time. Staff will signal the end of visitation and participants will return to the visitation processing center.

The information provided here applies to MDOC state facilities. Regional facilities are operated by local authorities and the two private-operated prisons may have different policies and practices. Persons should contact the specific facility where the inmate is located to check on visitation arrangements and schedules in advance of attending.

Application process
Inmates are responsible for initiating the visitation application process by sending the Application for Visiting Privileges to persons they wish to see. The visiting person(s) must complete the application and mail it to the MDOC address as indicated in the visitor application package. If the prospective visitor is a minor, his/her parent/legal guardian must complete the application.

Each inmate is allowed to fill out a visitation list with ten (10) visitors. This document is reviewed annually for updates. Immediate family members remain on the list permanently unless removed by the inmate. Any non-immediate family persons’ inclusion will expire automatically unless renewed by the inmate. Persons not included on an inmate’s approved visitation list will not be allowed to visit.

Visitors will be allowed to visit one (1) inmate only, unless they are related (immediate family) to another inmate. Visitors who claim immediate family relationship to an inmate may be required to provide verifiable proof of relationship.
Visitors who claim to be the spouse of an offender must provide a valid certified copy of their marriage license, as well as the location where the marriage took place (state, county, city); name of the church, courthouse, etc., where the ceremony was performed; and if possible the name of the person who performed the ceremony.

Persons on probation, parole, or other forms of conditional release will not be allowed to visit an inmate unless a verifiable family relationship can be established, and then only with the written approval of the superintendent.

No more than five (5) persons (including babies/children) will be permitted to visit an offender at one time. 
All visitors age of eighteen (18) and above must have valid picture identification with them, such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport.

Minor/Children Visitors
Under the age of 18, must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. All visitors 16 years of age or older must have a picture ID and be on the offender's approved list each visit. The ID must display their date of birth. All children under 15 years of age will bring a legible birth certificate.

Visitors with infants may have one (1) diaper bag with up to four (4) diapers, two (2) bottles, one (1) change of baby clothes a, one (1) pacifier and diaper wipes in a zip lock bag and any necessary medication for the infant.

Current or Former Employees of MDOC
The superintendent or designee must grant permission for a former MDOC employee to visit an inmate.
Current MDOC employees wishing to visit an inmate must be of immediate family relationship and provide verifiable proof. The superintendent will approve or disapprove this type of request.

Unapproved Visitors
Individuals who are believed, through investigation, to pose a threat to an inmate or a prison will be excluded from visitation.

A visit between an offender and the offender’s victim will not be permitted unless approved, in advance, in writing by the superintendent.

Individuals who are convicted felons will be prohibited from visiting offenders except in those cases where immediately family relations can be established. In such cases, the superintendent will grant permission in writing. Visitors must show this written authorization each time they visit.

Prescribed Medication
Visitors will be allowed to bring prescribed medication into the institution only in the necessary dosage. Visitors required to take prescribed medication during the time they are visiting an offender MUST follow the procedures outlined below:
     • Medication will be left with the Visitor Center Officer.
     • The visitor will notify the Visitor Center Officer of the specific time the medication is to be taken.
     • The visitor will be permitted to recover the necessary dosage from the officer at the appropriate time.
     • Visitors required to possess prescribed medication at all times, such as heart medication, must follow the procedures outlined below:

     1. The visitor must submit a written request to the Area Warden prior to bringing medication into the prison's visiting area. A written doctor’s statement is required verifying the name of the individual, the prescribed medication, and the fact that the individual is required to maintain the medication in his/her possession at all times.
     2. Upon complying with the above, the Area Warden or designee will notify the visitor in writing of his approval.
     3. The visitor must present both the written approval and the medication to the Visitor Center Officer who will verify the approval and inspect the medication vial, if necessary.
     4. In addition to relinquishing the medication vial to the officer for inspection prior to entering, he/she will also do the same upon departing the institution.
     5. Medication brought onto prison grounds by visitors other than as outlined above will be considered promoting dangerous contraband and appropriate action will be taken.
     6. No over-the-counter medication of any kind will be allowed.

Dress Code for Visitors
Visiting areas are designed to cultivate a family atmosphere for families and friends of all ages. 
Visitors must dress accordingly, wearing nothing that poses a threat to the safety, security, or good order and administrative manageability of the facility.

These guidelines are in place for the protection of visitors and inmates. Abiding by these rules will maintain order during visitation for the correctional officer, the inmate, and visitors. Correctional officers will turn visitors away for improper dress, an easily-avoidable issue. Please dress as modestly as possible.
 
     • Shirts must be worn
     • No tank tops, crop tops, bare midriffs, or sleeveless tops
     • Shoes appropriate for outdoor use must be worn (no house or shower shoes)
     • Underwear must be worn (including bra for women)
     • No pants pulled below the hip line
     • Shorts must extend to knee level or below
     • Skirts and dresses shall not be shorter than one inch above the knees
     • Slits shall not extend above the knees when seated
     • No see through clothing
     • Hats, caps, or other head coverings are not allowed, except those required by religious beliefs
     • No jewelry except wedding ring, religious medallion, and/or a medical alert bracelet
     • Dress code also applies to children

The following attire is NOT ALLOWED:

     • Clothing that exposes bare (or almost bare) shoulders, such as strapless tops or spaghetti straps
     • Overly tight clothing, i.e. yoga pants, hip huggers, jogging shorts, biking shorts, spandex, etc.
     • Exposed undergarments or tops with no undergarments underneath
     • No mini-skirts, cutoff shorts or pants
     • Skirts, dresses, etc., cannot have deep revealing slits

VISITATION DAY
At all times while on the grounds of a prison facility of the MDOC, a visitor is subject to search of his/her person, vehicle, personal property, or any/all items in possession. 

Visitors must park in the areas designated for visitation. Visitors will not be allowed to maintain possession of their personal keys while in the visitation center. Vehicles are subject to search. Guns, knives, ammunition, alcohol, drugs, weapons, or any instrument or tool that may be used as a weapon, or any other items declared by the institution to be contraband are strictly forbidden. Drug detection canines may be in use at any prison. Contraband will be confiscated and violators will be prosecuted. 

MDOC policy allows regulated use of tobacco products by inmates. However, visitors cannot bring tobacco products into a visitation center. Tobacco products may be brought onto prison grounds during visitation, but must be left locked in visitors’ vehicle at all times. Visitation centers are designated as non-smoking areas.

Visitors must leave cell phones, wallets, purses, handbag, change purses, excessive clothing, etc., locked in their vehicles. The MDOC is not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged personal possessions belonging to visitors while they are in or on the grounds of the prison. 

Visitors must also:
     • Present proper photographic identification and sign the visitor’s sign-in log. All visitors will be required to properly identify themselves with Visitor ID cards, driver’s license, military ID or state ID and will be required to register.
     • Have the top of the right hand stamped prior to entry into the visitation center.
     • Submit to a search of their person by frisk search and/or electronic scanner.
     • Submit to a search of any/all items in their possession that are allowed in the prison.

Rules and procedures:
     • The processing officer will instruct visitors not having proper identification to wait until all other visitors are processed. It will then be determined if the visitor can be positively identified. If not, the visitor will not be allowed to visit.
     • Visitors are not allowed to enter prison grounds while intoxicated in any way. 
     • Inquiries concerning clarification, explanation, or errors in visiting lists should be directed by the visitor to the institution between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
     • Visitors who are admitted to the prison will proceed directly to the Visitation Center.
     • Concessions are available in most visitation centers. Visitors are allowed to bring only enough cash for vending machines or other concessions.
     • Visitors are not allowed to leave designated visiting areas and return. When a visitor leaves the designated visiting areas for any reason, their visit will be concluded for the day.
     • Upon conclusion of visitation hours, visitors are not allowed to leave the prison with any items or property that was not in their possession upon entering the prison.
     • Communication between inmates and visitors is prohibited after the visitor’s departure from the visiting area.
     • If the visitation room becomes overcrowded, the first visitors to register will be asked to exit.
     • During an emergency or disturbance, all visitors will be asked to leave immediately.
     • Inmates and visitors are prohibited from giving, trading, selling, or receiving anything to or from each other or other inmates or visitors.
     • Children must be supervised by an adult visitor and not disturb others. Failure to supervise children may result in termination of the visit. Absolutely no toy guns or knives will be brought onto the prison grounds.
     • Visitors are expected to converse normally. Loud talking or laughing, arguing or yelling, and so forth, may result in termination of the visit.
     • Any visitor or inmate who becomes disruptive or disrespectful to a prison staff member will be reported and the visit immediately terminated.
     • Inmates and visitors must keep the area clean (i.e., all cans, paper, paper cups, and other trash will be placed in trash containers).
     • Inmates who have non-contact visitation are restricted from having physical contact with visitors by a barrier such as a screen or glass. Phones or speakers are typically used in these interactions.

Affectionate Behavior
Affectionate behavior is accepted and expected; however, visitors and inmates are expected to demonstrate appropriate affectionate behavior during visitation.

Appropriate affectionate behavior is defined as: (1) a brief kiss and embrace upon entry and exit; (2) holding hands; (3) walking or sitting with arms around the shoulders or waist; (4) hands resting on any part of the body not considered sexual.

Any person involved in inappropriate behavior may have their visit terminated immediately. 
Inappropriate affectionate behavior is defined as:
     • Touching or fondling of areas considered sexual
     • Sexual activity
     • Prolonged body kissing or body embracing
     • Lip kissing except for beginning or end of visit
     • Sitting in such a manner so as to expose to view areas of the body considered sexual
     • No sitting in each other’s lap – does not apply to children under the age of 12 years
Termination and Suspension of Visitation Privileges 
A visit will be denied or terminated and visiting privileges suspended by the superintendent or designee for any of the following circumstances:
     • If a visitor is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or in possession of alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, or drug paraphernalia while on prison grounds.
     • If a visitor refuses to submit to a search
     • If a visitor refuses or fails to produce sufficient identification or falsifies identifying information
     • If a visitor violates visitation rules
     • If a visitor fails to prevent children from acting in a disturbing and disruptive manner
     • If a visitor displays excessive physical contact with an inmate
     • If in the judgment of the respective Unit Administrator, necessary order and security cannot be maintained, action will be taken to terminate the visit
     • If the visitor is improperly dressed
     • If a visitor possesses money or any negotiable instruments while on prison grounds.
     • If a visitor possesses a knife, firearm, explosives or explosive material while on prison grounds.
     • If a visitor engages in any behavior which may be designated inappropriate by the superintendent or designee.