The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) encourages visits by family and friends, which can be a positive influence during the time a person spends in prison and after their release. Research shows that incarcerated individuals who receive regular visits adjust much better once they are released from prison when the privilege is used to maintain positive relationships.
DOCCS wants the visiting experience to be family friendly and positive. The Department has Visitor Hospitality Centers that provide shelter and respite for visiting families and friends prior to entering the facility. Restrooms, a baby changing station, lockers for storing personal belongings, and information concerning rules and regulations pertaining to visitation, including packages for inmates, are available.
To ensure the safety of family, friends who are visiting, as well as our facilities staff and the incarcerated population, visits are subject to DOCCS rules. To help address questions you may have about visitations, DOCCS has prepared a variety of resources.
Updated Visitation Procedures
Updated July 11, 2022
We have received clarifying guidance from the Department of Health. Specifically, consistent with CDC guidelines and in accordance with the Commissioner of Health’s Determination on Masking in Certain Indoor Settings Pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60, social distancing must still be maintained when staff or incarcerated individuals are not wearing a mask. Social distancing is defined as maintaining a six-foot separation between individuals, except when eating and sleeping.
For purposes of visitation, since social distancing is very difficult to maintain, we will reinstitute a mask requirement beginning with visitation commencing on July 13, 2022. This requirement will be in addition to the protocol for visitors to test negative prior to visiting. The Department will continue to provide an at-home test kit to all visitors. Those visiting in an outdoor visiting area, will be permitted to remove their mask.
***It is strongly recommended that visitors traveling to a facility by bus get tested prior to boarding the bus. This will not only prevent riders from endangering the health of other passengers, but will also ensure visitors do not make the trip, only to be denied entry to a facility following a positive test. Please note: those who receive a test prior to visiting are still required to take a test on site.***
VENDOR PACKAGE PROGRAM
In a continuous battle to prevent contraband from getting into DOCCS’ correctional facilities and maintaining security and safety for both staff and the incarcerated population, the Department is revising its policy concerning packages and articles received through facility package rooms.
Upon implementation at a facility, packages and articles will only be allowed to be received directly from vendors via U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, etc. Packages will no longer be allowed to be brought to the facility during visits or mailed directly to the facility from family or friends. Department Directive #4911 – Packages & Articles Sent to Facilities – is in the process of being updated. A draft of the updated document is available here.
The Vendor Package program is being implemented on an incremental basis. Effective dates are:
The recommendation for this initiative was a direct result of the work of the Prison Violence Task Force, which was created last year and includes broad representation across the workforce spectrum. Input was also solicited from several Incarcerated Individual Liaison Committees, while several advocacy organizations were also consulted on the initiative.
Things You Should Know
DOCCS provides educational programs,vocational training, library services, counseling, and treatment services.
DOCCS provides continuous Temporary Release programs and transitional services to assist with reintegration.
DOCCS provides opportunities for religious practices, family services, and volunteer programs at each facility.