This page provides basic information about visiting. It does not cover every situation.
Each Federal prison has set up certain days and times, called “visiting hours,” for family and friends to visit inmates. There are more than 114 prisons (not including 12 contracted facilities), and visiting hours may vary depending on location and other factors. Some prisons have different types of inmates with different visiting needs. Some have more space and other facilities available for visiting than others.
All institutions have visiting hours on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; and most have them at other times during the week. Individual prisons can set up evening hours.
The inmate you plan to visit should tell you what the hours are for that prison. If you have any question about a particular prison’s hours, call that prison or use our online Facility Locator at www.bop.gov to find the visiting hours for the prison.
By law, an inmate gets at least four hours of visiting time per month. Usually, the prison can provide more. The Warden can decide to restrict the length of visits or the number of people who can visit at once, to avoid overcrowding in the visiting room. Sometimes the prison may have to limit visiting per inmate to one day on a weekend, because it is the most popular time to visit.
Prisons try to allow for families’ special circumstances, such as the distance you have to travel or health problems. Staff can help with directions, including how to get there by public transportation when available; but there is no Government payment or reimbursement for transportation. Again, call the prison before you travel for a visit.
Visitors must be on the inmate’s approved visiting list. The inmate gives a list of proposed visitors to staff, who investigate the proposed visitors before putting anyone to the list. The list may include:
- Immediate family: mother, father, step-parent(s), foster parent(s), brothers and sisters, spouse, and children. (Common-law spouses are considered immediate family if the state recognizes common-law marriages.)
- Other relatives: grandparents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, and cousins.
- Friends and associates: usually, an inmate’s visiting list should not include more than 10 friends and associates.
Because some inmates have criminal associates, staff may need background information from potential visitors before they can be considered for the visiting list. If there is little or no information available about a person, visiting may be denied.
Staff will give the inmate a Visitor Information Form to send to each proposed visitor. This form must be filled out by the visitor and mailed back to staff. Staff may then decide to contact other law enforcement agencies or the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to complete the investigation. The inmate is told when a person is not approved to visit. It is the inmate’s responsibility to notify that person.