The Family Reunion Program (FRP) provides approved incarcerated individuals and their families the opportunity to meet for a designated period of time in a private home-like setting.
The goals of the program include:
- Preserving and strengthening family ties that have been disrupted as a result of incarceration.
- Fostering positive and responsible conduct.
- Facilitating post-release reintegration into the family and community, thereby reducing the likelihood of recidivism.
Incarcerated individuals must meet the following preconditions to be eligible to participate in the FRP:
The incarcerated individual has been in the Department’s custody for at least six months, excluding initial reception, and is, at the time of application, a resident of a facility that offers the program.
An incarcerated individual who has successfully participated in the FRP at one facility, and is transferred to another facility where the program is offered, may apply immediately for participation. Those who have not participated at their previous facility must wait 30 days to apply for the program, which will give them time to have an assessment at the new facility.
Applications will not be accepted for individuals within 90 days of an approved release date. However, the Superintendent has the discretion to approve or deny the visit for those approved by Central Office who received a date prior to the 90-day mark.
Individuals who have exhibited a pattern of good institutional adjustment and have not had any major, chronic, severe, or excessive disciplinary problems. Satisfactory behavior must be maintained throughout the duration of the application and/or appeal. For specific definitions and additional criteria, refer to Directive 4500: Family Reunion Program.
Applications for participation in the FRP may be made for the following family members, all of whom must have established a recent and consistent visiting pattern. A recent and consistent visiting pattern is defined as three visits, not including family reunion visits, within the past 12 months. Discretion may be used in situations where a family member is elderly, a minor, infirm, or resides more than 300 miles (in or out-of-state) from the FRP visit site. A prolonged disruption (one year or more) in a visit pattern will require a written explanation as to the reason for the disruption. In such cases, reestablishment of a consistent visit pattern may be required before being reconsidered for the FRP.
- Legal spouses: Husbands or wives of participants to whom they have been married for at least six months prior to submitting an application and who are not themselves a resident of a New York State correctional facility. Spouses must possess documentation of a valid marriage certificate or a declaratory judgment stating the validity of an out-of-state common-law marriage.
- Children of the participant, 18 years of age and older.
- Minor children of the participant (under 18 years of age) may participate when accompanied by the spouse, parents, or grandparents provided:
- the accompanying adult is otherwise eligible for the FRP; and
- written notarized permission has been received from the child’s legal guardian if that person is not the accompanying adult.
- Unaccompanied minors may visit:
- if written permission is received from the child’s non-incarcerated parent or legal guardian; and
- after special review by and of approval the superintendent; and
- provided the child will be escorted to and from the facility by their non-incarcerated parent or legal guardian, another adult designated by the non-incarcerated parent or legal guardian, or an adult in an official capacity with proper identification, and such escort will remain available via telephone for the duration of the visit; or
- if married, and proof of age and marriage have been provided.
- Parents or step-parents (one parent must be biological): Long-term relationship with step-parent must have been established and documented prior to incarceration if biological parent is not participating.
- Foster parents/guardians: When legal documentation is provided and verified.
The following family members, all of whom must have established a recent visiting pattern, may be considered for participation after a special review:
- Nieces and nephews (18 years of age and under when accompanied by an approved parent or legal guardian): Individual cases may receive special consideration in the review process of nieces and nephews over age 18 who have a prior history of FRP participation.
- Ancestral aunts and uncles: Adults may be accompanied by spouses.
- Siblings (full or half, must have at least one biological parent in common): Adult siblings may be accompanied by their legal spouses.
- Cousins: Are not allowed.
- Step-children: Must have notarized, written permission from non-custodial, biological parent. Custodial parents who claim they no longer have contact with the non-custodial parent must provide a notarized letter explaining why the non-custodial biological parent cannot/will not provide permission, and that the custodial parent is assuming responsibility for the visit. Step-children must be accompanied by their biological parent if they are alive. Those over 18 years of age must have a history of prior FRP participation.
- Grandchildren and step-grandchildren: Must be accompanied by an approved parent or legal guardian.
- In-laws: In-law relationships that may be considered include mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Brother-in-law and sister-in-law are defined as the legal spouse/partner of the sibling of the incarcerated individual. All in-law relationships require special review and do not imply approval.
Note: Letters must be updated for every visit of relationships and situations requiring notarized letters.
Incarcerated individuals are not allowed to participate with other individuals in prison.