Visiting an inmate

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Types of visits

There are four different types of visits. They are:

Open visits

Open visits allow inmates and visitors to have supervised contact. In an open visit, there is direct contact between the inmate and visitor(s).

Closed visits

In a closed visit there is a physical barrier between you and the inmate you are visiting. Closed visits are not regular visits. They usually occur after a Threat Risk Assessment (TRA) is completed due to either suspicions or concerns for the safety and security of the institution.

Video visitation

Inmates can visit by live video using virtual technology on an institutional computer. This allows inmates to develop and maintain family and community ties when in-person visits are not possible. Video visitation does not replace in-person visits but it gives visitors another way to communicate with an inmate.

An inmate must first complete an Inmate Video Visitation Application before you can visit with them via video. It can take up to two weeks for the application to be approved. Once you have been approved for video visitation with an inmate you will be contacted with information on how to access the video visitation.

What to know about video visitation

  • You will have to display a piece of provincially-issued identification on the computer screen prior to the visit and ensure that no other unapproved individuals appear on the video for the duration of the visit.
  • If a minor child is participating in a video visit, the minor must be accompanied by an approved accompanying adult (who must present themselves on video).
  • Video visitation normally occurs during regular visiting hours and must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance.
  • You must have access to the internet in order to participate.
  • Video visits are a maximum of 50 minutes.
  • Staff will monitor the visit to ensure you and the inmate that you are visiting respect the institutional rules and procedures. The visit will end if you and/or the inmate you are visiting violates any of the rules and/or procedures.

Private family visits

Private family visits (PFVs) allow inmates and their families to spend time together. These visits help inmates keep and strengthen family and community ties. As well as:

  • enhance daily living skills
  • maintain positive community and family relationships and responsibilities, such as parenting skills
  • decrease the negative impact of incarceration on family relationships

PFVs occur in separate structures inside the perimeter of the institution. Most of these structures are simple two-bedroom units with a combination kitchen and living area. This allows inmates to spend time with their visitors in private.

PFVs can take place for up to 72 hours every two months, unless otherwise specified in an institution's standing order.

There are security measures in place that protect the security of the institution during PFVs. These measures limit what can be brought in during visits and allow for the searching of visitors.

Inmates who can request a private family visit

All inmates can request a private family visit as long as they meet certain criteria identified in their correctional plan. An inmate is not eligible for a PFV if they are:

  • at risk for family violence
  • participating in unescorted temporary absences for family contact purposes
  • in a Special Handling Unit, or recommended or approved for a transfer to a Special Handling Unit

Who can have a private family visit with an inmate?

The following visitors are eligible to participate in private family visits:

  • immediate family
  • individual with whom the inmate has a close personal relationship, including a common law relationship

An inmate's immediate family includes:

  • the inmate's spouse/ common-law partner
  • a child of the inmate
  • a child of the inmate's spouse/ common-law partner*
  • the inmate's parents
  • the inmate's spouse/ common-law partner's parents
  • the spouse or common-law partner of the inmate's parents
  • the foster parent of the inmate
  • the foster parent of the inmate's spouse/ common-law partner
  • a child of the inmate's father or mother*
  • a child of the spouse/ common-law partner of the inmate's father or mother*

A common-law partner is a person who, at the time of the inmate's incarceration, had been cohabitating with the inmate in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. Proof of a common-law relationship is the responsibility of the inmate and/or the visitor.

*A minor child must be escorted by an accompanying adult.

Process for PFV approval

These following Correctional Service Canada (CSC) forms are available for viewing and printing using Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). It contains the same graphics, typography, and layout as the printed versions. You must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view and/or print the form. If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat reader application installed on your computer, you can download it free from:

An inmate must complete Form 0529 Application for the Use of the Private Family Visits Unit and then submit it to their correctional officer II (COII) or primary worker (PW). The COII/PW will explain the process to the inmate and visitor. The CO II or PW will also ensure the following forms are completed by the visitor(s):

When a private family visit is requested, the inmate's file is examined and an assessment is made of any prospective visitor.

What you can bring for a private family visit

Before arriving for a private family visit, visitors are told what constitutes contraband or unauthorized items. Visitors, as well as their personal belongings, will be searched thoroughly. Attempts to smuggle in contraband may result in the inmate losing private family visiting privileges and possible criminal charges against the visitor.

The final decision on all items to be allowed in the unit (such as children's toys) rests with the institutional staff. Unauthorized material will be held for the duration of the visit.

Food for private family visits

Inmates who are having PFVs must purchase their food and ingredients ahead of time at the inmate canteen.

The inmate must fill out Form 532 Inmate's Request to Encumber/Disburse Funds and submit it to the Visitors and Correspondence officer. Inmates can make purchases for PFVs from their current and/or savings account.

Visitors' responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the visitors to arrive at the institution on time and to provide their own transportation to and from the institution.

An officer will inspect the PFV unit at the end of each visit.

Each unit has a telephone with a direct line to a security control unit in the institution. This allows two-way communication at all times.

During a visit, staff members have regular contact with the inmate and their visitors to ensure their security and safety.

At the end of the visit, visitors and their belongings will be searched. The inmate will also be searched.

Regulations for PFVs

A visit may be ended at any time during the visiting period at the request of either the visitor(s) or the inmate. Institutional staff may also end the visit at any time if it jeopardizes the security and safety of the institution, and/or the safety of an individual.

Institutional staff will also end the visit if it is believed that a criminal offence has been planned or committed. If institutional staff decide to end a visit the inmate and the visitor(s) will receive written notification of the reasons for any decision that is made, and given an opportunity to present their case.

An inmate will have their family visits withdrawn for a period specified by the institutional head if:

  • they are found guilty of committing an offence involving a family member during a private family visit
  • they introduce contraband materials into the institution through the program

Violence of any kind is not tolerated by CSC. Certain forms of family violence are criminal acts and will be treated as such. Other forms of family violence that are suspected or occur during a visit will be reported according to various provincial statutes.

The infractions described above may also lead to criminal charges. The unit will be visited daily by a correctional officer. The purpose of these visits is to:

  • ensure the presence and wellbeing of the visitors
  • offer assistance if problems (such as with the facility, supplies, etc.) are being encountered
  • facilitate requests for presence of other staff, such as the Chaplain

After a private family visit

At the end of the visit, visitors and their belongings will be searched. The inmate will also be searched.

An officer will conduct a follow-up interview with the visitors. The objective is to identify any unusual incidents which may have occurred during a visit and to assess any changes in and/or benefits to the inmate participating in the PFV.

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CD 710-8 Private Family Visits outlines the process for the use of private family visit units. It also describes how inmates are approved for this type of visit.

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