Corrections - Visiting Policy
Policies and Guidelines
Correctional Services recognizes the importance for inmates to receive visits from family, friends and others. Such visits improve inmate morale and can help contribute to their rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community.
Correctional Services staff must also maintain the security of the institution and will take precautions to prevent the introduction of contraband or any actions that might be a detriment to personal safety.
- Visiting hours are normally held for a minimum of four hours each day, seven days a week. There are some provisions during the week for evening visits.
- Visits may be extended because of distances travelled or for other compelling reasons.
Due to space limitations, some institutions may require that visits be booked in advance.
- When developing a visiting schedule, Correctional Services staff consider reasonable access by family, friends and others, the availability of public transport and the scheduling of institutional programs and activities.
- Special visits over and above allowed visitations may be granted by the superintendent, particularly in circumstances involving compassionate grounds, out of town visitors and relatives who are unable to visit during regular hours.
- Inmates are allowed visits by legal counsel, leaders of recognized interdenominational or faith groups, volunteers, probation and parole officers, institutional liaison officers, assistant area managers and other authorized persons during reasonable hours. These are considered professional visits and would be allowed to take place in designated areas.
Limitations on the number of visitors
- Limitations are imposed on the number of visitors an inmate may have at one time in order to prevent crowding in the visiting room and to eliminate supervision difficulties.
- Space in the visitation room is allocated on a first come, first served basis.
- The number of visitors an inmate may receive at one time and the length of visits are determined by the superintendent. Emergency visits beyond, or in addition to, the normal visiting schedule may also be approved.
Designated visiting areas
- Visits only take place in designated visitation areas. Staff supervise visits at all times.
- Visitors are not permitted to sketch, take photographs or receive, give, trade or sell any article to or from an inmate without the permission of the superintendent.
- A lawyer visiting area is available to ensure private communications between inmates and legal counsel. This area is subject to general staff supervision. Supervision should not be conducted in a manner that allows the conversation between a lawyer and client to be overheard.
Visitor entry to an institution
- All visitors are required to produce acceptable personal identification.
- A Visitors’ Register is completed by staff prior to the visitor entering the visiting area. To ensure confidentiality, institutions do not require visitors to sign the register and visitors do not have access to the Visitors’ Register.
- Visitors are prohibited from entering any location in the institution except the visiting room, public washrooms and the approved route to the visiting area.
- If it is necessary for a visitor to produce picture identification and the visitor is wearing a garment for cultural, spiritual or religious reasons that make confirmation difficult (e.g. Muslim women wearing a burka), procedures will be adopted to confirm the person’s identity while considering their human rights.
- Signs are posted in the lobby stating that all visitors may be subject to a search prior to being allowed to visit an inmate.
- The contents of visitors’ purses, bags and packages may also be visually inspected.
- Prior to entering the visiting area, visitors may be asked to leave purses, bags and packages in the secure lockers available for this purpose.
- Cellphones/smartphones, pagers, computers, electronic notebooks, radios or other electronic devices are not permitted in the institution. Signs are prominently displayed at the entrance to the institutions to remind visitors of this requirement.
- The ministry acknowledges its obligation to accommodate the needs of individuals pursuant to the Human Rights Code to the point of undue hardship. Any accommodation requests are assessed on a case by case basis.
- If a visitor refuses a search or, despite a search, there is still reasonable cause to suspect that a visitor is carrying contraband, the visitor will be denied access to the institution and be requested to the leave the premises.
- Inmates are subject to search procedures before and after all visits.
Denial or termination of visits
- A visit may be denied or terminated under the following circumstances:
- Visitor is under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substance
- Insufficient space is available
- Refusal by an inmate or visitor to submit to search procedures
- Refusal or failure to produce acceptable personal identification, or the falsifying of identifying information by a visitor
- Violation of institutional rules by a visitor or inmate
- Failure to prevent children from disturbing other persons in the visiting area
- Conduct is deemed to be disruptive to the security, safety and good order of the institution
- A judicial order exists that restrains contact between the inmate and visitor
- The inmate refuses the visit.
- The approved procedures for visits are posted in an area to which visitors have access. Staff also communicate these procedures to inmates through the Inmate Information Guide, which is accessible to inmates upon request.
- All visiting privileges may be suspended in response to a serious security concern or medical quarantine at the institution.
Visits for intermittent inmates
- Intermittent inmates are offered access to public visits where operationally feasible, as these inmates are in custody for only limited periods each week.
Segregation, close confinement or health care
- Inmates in segregation and close confinement will continue to receive visits according to policy, unless the superintendent determines otherwise.
- Health care staff will be consulted regarding visiting arrangements for inmates under health care status.
Visits by minors
- The decision to grant visits to children under the age of 16 years is at the superintendent’s discretion. In making the decision, each application is considered individually and based on its own merits.
- All children under the age of 16 years are expected to conform to the visiting routines and practices of the institution. Children who do not conform or who disrupt the visits of other persons will be required to leave the facility.
- Except in extenuating or unusual circumstances, children under 16 accompanied by an adult will be permitted to visit an inmate
- The names of all children and accompanying adults are recorded in the Visitors’ Register.
- Except in extenuating or unusual circumstances, unaccompanied children under 16 will not be permitted to visit without the prior approval of the superintendent
- An inmate wishing to be visited by an unaccompanied child under the age of 16 will submit a written request to the superintendent in advance of the anticipated visit. This will allow the superintendent time to make a decision and convey the decision to the inmate
- It is the inmate’s responsibility to inform the intended visitor whether the visit has been approved or denied
- When the visit takes place, it is recorded in the Visitors’ Register
- Extenuating or unusual circumstances may arise that necessitate taking alternative action. In these situations, the superintendent is advised and approval or denial is based on the individual merits of each case.