Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Inmate Visitation

Maintaining connections between incarcerated individuals and their loved ones is a primary mission of the Department of Corrections.

An incarcerated individual stands in an empty visiting room at SCI Phoenix.

Family, friends, and attorneys of incarcerated individuals may be approved to participate in two types of visitation: in-person or video. Rules for visits are the same and can be found below. All visits must be scheduled at least two days in advance. When you log in to the IVS, you will see available timeslots based on your loved one’s specific housing assignment. All non-legal video visits are monitored and recorded.

Please review our detailed Visitor Guide prior to your visit.

Notice on cancellations: Visits may be canceled for a number of reasons. You will be notified by email if a cancellation occurs. Please check the email associated with your account the morning of your scheduled visit.

In-Person Visits

Each inmate is permitted four in-person visits per month, one of which may be on a weekend; in-person visits are guaranteed to be at least one hour long. Four visitors are permitted with an inmate at a time.

Exception: At Quehanna Boot Camp, two visitors are permitted at a time.) All visitors must clear all security procedures and comply with all visiting room rules.

At the time of arrival and departure, the visitor may exchange a brief hug and kiss with their incarcerated loved one. There shall be no excessive displays of affection.

Video Visits

All inmates are eligible to participate in our no-cost video visitation program. Each inmate is generally permitted six video visits per month, one of which may be on a weekend. The number of visits permitted may vary based on an individual’s custody status. Up to six visitors may participate in a video visit.

Before your first video visit, read our guide to:

If you are an attorney, legislator or other professional visitor:

Visiting Rules

This page contains important information about visiting an incarcerated individual and answers to frequently asked questions about visitation.

For information about visits with restricted housing unit inmates, religious visits, PA Prison Society visits or attorney visits, contact the appropriate SCI. More information is also available in DOC Policy DC-ADM 812 Inmate Visiting Privileges and the Visitor Guide contains detailed instructions on how to schedule a video or in-person visit.

Rules

We understand that your first visit to a SCI can be confusing and intimidating. Please review the following steps you can take to ensure your visit goes smoothly. And remember – we are here to help. Please contact your loved one's facility with any questions.

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

All visits, whether virtual or in-person, must be scheduled online three days in advance.

Vehicles must be locked while on prison property. Windows must be rolled up/closed, and equipment such as ladders and toolboxes must be secured.

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

All visitors must pass through a metal detector.

All visitor vehicles are subject to search.

At the time of arrival and departure, the visitor may exchange a brief hug with their incarcerated loved one. There shall be no excessive displays of affection. Due to COVID-19 mitigation requirements, kissing is not permitted at this time.

Many facilities allow visitors to purchase tokens or tickets to get pictures taken during visits. Check with your facility in advance for availability.

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.

Before visiting, please ensure you are on your loved one's visitor list. Facility staff cannot tell you if you are on the list.

Special visits can be pre-arranged for persons who are not on an approved visitor list or who have traveled a substantial distance to see a seriously ill or injured inmate. Special visits must be arranged by the inmate and approved by the facility manager.

All visitors, regardless of age, must have proper identification in order to visit. One photo ID or two non-photo IDs are required for all visitors, including children and infants. Expired identification and photocopies of identification are not accepted.

Approved photo IDs

  • 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

Approved non-photo IDs (one 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

For the safety of inmates and staff, strict rules are in place to prevent the introduction of contraband into DOC facilities. The following items are generally permitted in visiting rooms.

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

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.

Some prisons permit money in visiting rooms, while others use special machine vending cards. Contact your institution for specific guidelines. For prisons that accept cash for vending, denominations larger than $5 are prohibited, with a total limit of $50. All cash must be contained in a clear plastic bag or small clear change purse.

At most facilities, lockers are available to store items prohibited from visiting rooms. Some lockers may require a deposit.

Cell phones and/or pagers are not permitted inside SCIs. All devices must be properly secured inside your locked vehicle.

Any 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 includes, but is not limited to, eye glasses, tie tacks, lapel pins, wrist watches, pens, etc.

Illegal drugs and/or paraphernalia, alcohol, and weapons are not permitted on prison grounds at any time. Any alcohol, drugs and/or weapons found in the vehicle or on your person will result in the visit being denied and possible referral to the Pennsylvania State Police.  

By statute, medical marijuana is not permitted on DOC property. Please leave medical marijuana products at home.

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

Do not bring gifts or money for your incarcerated loved one. Funds may be added to their commissary account through JPay. SCIs will not accept money to be placed on their account.

Purses, brief cases, diaper bags, etc. are not permitted in visiting rooms.

Visitors are expected to dress appropriately and avoid clothing styles that are revealing or provocative. Women should wear bras; however, we advise against underwire bras because underwire may prevent the visitor from successfully passing through the metal detector, which would cause the visit to be denied.

The following items are prohibited:

  • Coats, jackets or other outer garments (excludes suit coats, sports jackets/blazers and/or cardigan type sweaters)
  • See-through clothing
  • Clothing that exposes private body parts
  • Shorts or mini-skirts
  • Sleeveless shirts or tank tops
  • Spaghetti strings or shirts that expose the shoulder or midriff
  • Halter tops
  • Spandex or leggings
  • Pajamas worn as outer garments
  • Hoods of any kind
  • Bobby pins, safety pins, decorative pins, hair accessories and/or jewelry items that do not successfully clear the metal detector
  • Bathing suits
  • Clothing that references obscene language, drugs, sex or violence
  • Bare feet
  • Boxer shorts
  • Clothing with rips, tears or revealing holes that are in areas of the body that may reveal breasts, nipples, buttocks, genital area
  • Pajamas or lingerie
  • KnapsacksBook bags or back packs
  • Wallets

Face veils or other articles of clothing that obstruct the view of an individual's face required by a female visitor's religious beliefs are permitted to be worn inside DOC facilities.

Positive identification is required for all visitors, but facility staff will accommodate religious requirements related to face coverings. 

  1. A female DOC staff member will identify the visitor.
  2. The removal of the face veil or other article of clothing will be done in a location that gives the visitor privacy.
  3. All face veils or other articles of clothing that obstruct the view of an individual's face must be moved or removed to allow the DOC staff member an unobstructed view of the visitor's face. After the DOC staff member has viewed the visitor's face, the visitor will be instructed to place the face veil or other article of clothing back to its original position.
  4. Before leaving the facility, the face veil must again be opened to confirm the identity of the visitor.

All visitors must be at least 18 years old, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian who is also on the inmate's visitor list, or unless the visitor is the legal spouse of the inmate.

All minors must have the appropriate DC-313 or DC-313A visitor form signed by their parent/guardian and the incarcerated individual's counselor or unit manager to be eligible for a visit. Incarcerated parents are not permitted to sign these forms. Children ages five and younger may be held by the inmate on his/her lap.

Please feed your baby before visiting. If you have a baby as a part of your visiting group, you may take these items into the visiting room:

  • Up to 3 UNOPENED, commercially prepared and vacuum-sealed containers of baby food per infant. All containers will be opened by the inspecting officers
  • Up to 3 clear plastic bottles of pre-mixed formula/white milk per infant
  • Up to 3 diapers per infant. Diapers must be loose so they can be inspected
  • Up to 3 pull-ups or training pants per infant
  • A reasonable number of wipes

Some prisons allow one each of the following: blanket, change of clothing, pacifier, teething ring, bib, empty sippy cup and a baby spoon. Check with the appropriate prison for its local policy.

The DOC takes the security of its facilities seriously. People in the following categories may not visit a SCI without prior approval from DOC leadership:

  • Former inmate of any correctional system
  • Person currently under probation or parole supervision
  • Current inmate in pre-release or SIP status
  • Current or former DOC employee
  • Current, active volunteer of the DOC
  • Current or former contract employee
  • Victim of the inmate
  • Visitor who has had his/her visiting privileges suspended
  • Visitor that has an active PFA against them

Contact

If you have any questions or concerns with our Inmate Visitation System, please contact the facility at which your loved one is incarcerated or email Central Office.