Visiting Hours | Dress Code | Codigo de Vestuario para Visitas. | Driving directions




The purpose of this document is to establish rules and regulations governing visiting at Bridgewater State Hospital which reflect both the importance of patient/inmate visitation and the need for security and order in administering a visiting program at Bridgewater State Hospital.


Bridgewater State Hospital is located at 20 Administration Road, Bridgewater, MA 02324. The telephone number is (508) 279-4500. Bridgewater is approximately 35 miles south of Boston; the institution is 4 miles south of Bridgewater center just off state Rte. 18. Driving directions to the institution are included as an attachment to this Visiting procedure. Recorded driving directions are also available via telephone by dialing the main institution number (508/279-4500) and following the automated instructions.

Public transportation is available to the center of the town of Bridgewater via bus and MBTA commuter rail. Bus and rail service schedules are posted in the Bridgewater State Hospital Visitors' Lobby. Taxi service is available from Bridgewater center to the facility. The telephone number for the local taxi service is also posted in the Visitors' Lobby.


Bridgewater State Hospital has developed the following Institutional Visiting Rules and Procedures for the Bridgewater State Hospital. These rules and procedures are:

Visiting Hours and Limitations
Institutional Visiting Periods, i.e., days of the week and hours when visiting is permitted.

Sunday Visiting Hours
Patients/Inmates whose last name begins with the letters A-K
January 1 - June 30 : 3:30 - 6:00 p.m.
July 1 - December 31: 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Patients/Inmates whose last name begins with the letter L-Z
January 1 - June 30: 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.
July 1 - December 31: 3:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Mondays and Tuesdays
All Patients/Inmates are allowed to receive visits from
3:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Visitors will not be processed or permitted to enter the institution between 4:45 PM and the conclusion of the 5:00 PM major count. In addition, visitors will not be processed or permitted to enter the institution during the final 20 minutes of each visiting period.

Limitations on Visits - both patients and inmates may have an unlimited number of weekly visits. In addition, patients and inmates shall be permitted to visit for the entire visiting periods. However, this will apply on a "space available" basis. If there is insufficient space in the Visiting Room to accommodate all visitors, patients and inmates will be permitted to receive only a one (1) hour visit on a "first in, first out basis". (Visitors who have traveled more than 50 miles will be allowed to stay).

No more than two (2) visitors (adults) shall be permitted to visit a patient/inmate at any one time. In the event the number of visitors exceeds the two (2) allowed, the Shift Commander shall be notified and shall determine if the visitors will be allowed in.

Cross visiting shall be prohibited. Cross visiting is the practice of an individual visiting more than one (1) patient/inmate.

The cross visiting rule does not apply to attorneys, clergy or the immediate family visiting siblings (in the event 2 or more brothers are confined at BSH at the same time). The visitor will write to the Superintendent and request permission to visit two or more patients/inmates. If permission is given then the visitor will present the letter every time s/he visits.

Identification, Sign-In, and Search Procedure

Each visitor will adhere to the following process upon entering the facility to visit a patient or an inmate.

The Visitor will:

  • Obtain a number from the dispenser on the wall. (Taking more than one number per visitor (saving a space for a "late-comer") may result in disciplinary action ranging from a written warning to being barred for a maximum of twelve months.
  • Complete a "Request to Visit Inmate/Patient" form (Attachment I) from the box on the writing table at the wall. Each adult visitor must fill out a slip even if they are together and visiting the same patient/inmate.
  • Remain within the waiting area as directed by the signs on the wall until the number on the card is called.
  • Step forward and deliver the completed form along with a current and valid photo identification, (i.e., drivers license, passport or an identification card issued by the Department of Transitional Assistance shall be sufficient) and your vehicle registration to the officer in the processing booth. Exceptions may be made by the Superintendent or his/her designee. (If the slip is incomplete, the officer may return the slip and request the visitor to step aside and complete it and return to the desk when it is fully completed. The officer may proceed to the next number.
  • An attorney visiting Bridgewater State Hospital shall be required to present a bar membership card and one other piece of identification with a photograph on it. No other identification is required.
  • Attorneys must also take a number on any scheduled visiting day regardless of the time of day that they visit so that the numbering sequence is not thrown off.

In the event a visitor claims they cannot submit to a metal detector search due to an implanted defibrillator or pacemaker, the following procedures shall be adhered to:

  • The Shift Commander will be notified; the visitor will not be allowed to enter the facility.
  • The visitor shall be informed they will be required to produce a notarized letter from a medical doctor.
  • The letter must state that the use of the hand-held or walk-through metal detector will place the individual's medical well being at risk.
  • The letter shall be forwarded to the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Operations for review.
  • Once proper documentation is received, individuals with implanted defibrillator or pacemakers will be searched in the manner described below. The Shift Commander will be notified before the personal search begins.
  • Prior to personal searches the visitor must sign the search consent log.
  • The individual will submit to personal search in the Pedestrian Trap Search area. The personal search will be conducted by an officer of the same sex as the individual being searched.
  • The personal search will include the removal of shoes, belts, coats, sweaters, etc. Pockets will also be emptied as part of the search.

Searches of Visitors

Institution visitors are subject to search at any time.

All institution visitors are required to pass through the metal detector (and/or a hand held scanner) located in the Front Control Pedestrian Trap. Visitors are not permitted to enter via the Vehicle Trap unless prior authorization is granted by the Deputy Superintendent of Operations or the Director of Security. All visitors are required to remove their shoes as part of the entry search procedure.

In addition, the 7-3 shift commander shall designate a personal search of the day for all patient/inmate visitors (e.g. every 8th patient/inmate visitor shall be subjected to a personal search).

  • All visitors who comply with a personal search shall sign the Visitor's Search Log prior to the search.
  • Those visitors who refuse to comply with personal search shall be denied access to the facility in accordance with CMR 483.

    Should a visitor fail to pass the fixed metal detector, the visitor shall be asked to submit to a hand-held metal detector search in the designated search area. During hand-held metal detector searches it is important that the cause of the interference be identified. When a visitor is unable to clear the metal detector or hand held scanner, s/he will be subject to a personal search and must sign the log book before the search is conducted. The search will be conducted by an officer of the same gender as the visitor. Once the searching officer has conducted the personal search and is reasonably sure that the visitor retains no concealed metal contraband, the visitor will be allowed to proceed to the Visiting Room.

    If the officer conducting the personal search feels an item may be concealed on a visitor, permission must be granted from the Shift Commander to conduct a more extensive search.

    Unclothed personal searches may only be authorized by the Superintendent or his designee. In addition, the visitor must agree in writing to submit to an unclothed personal search. Any visitor who is asked to remove any article of clothing (other than shoes or outerwear) or submit to an unclothed personal search must sign the Search Log located in Pedestrian Trap.

    Visitors shall be granted the opportunity to leave the institution rather than submit to a personal search (including an unclothed personal search) and may leave at any time during the search unless:

    • the employee has those powers of arrest granted by the authority of M.G.L. CH. 127 S 127 and;
    • the employee has probable cause to believe that the visitor has committed an arrest able offense; and
    • the employee has probable cause to believe that the visitor has seizable evidence concealed on his person

    Under these conditions, a personal search incident to arrest may be conducted.

    A visitor who has agreed in writing to submit to an unclothed personal search may, at any time during the search, request that the search be terminated. The visitor will then be permitted to leave the institution unless conditions a. - c. above apply. Under those conditions, a personal search incident to arrest may be conducted.

    All personal searches shall be performed by an employee of the same sex as the visitor being searched.

    The designated visitor/staff search areas shall be searched prior to being utilized to conduct a personal search of a visitor.

    Visitors who desire to leave funds for a patient/inmate shall obtain and complete a deposit envelope and will place their check or money order in this competed envelope. The envelope containing the check/money order shall then be placed in the deposit box located in the Front Lobby. Blank deposit envelopes are available from the Front Control staff.

    Electronic Devices

    No cell phones, pagers or any type of electronic device (with the exception of surgically-implanted, medically-required devices) will be allowed in the institution. (including the lobby) 01/02/08

    Guns, Weapons, Alcohol, etc

    substances, alcohol, or any other article whatsoever brought into or out of the institution may result in loss of visiting privileges as well as criminal prosecution. (In addition to appearing in the Institution's Rules and Procedures, this statement is posted on a sign in English and in Spanish which shall be conspicuously displayed in the institution entrance).

    Approved Articles For Retention By Visitors:

    1. Wedding rings
    2. Medical alert bracelet

    Visitors are also permitted to bring in medical devices and materials such as:

    • crutches
    • canes
    • walkers
    • oxygen bottles

    Such medical items are subject to search. In addition, the Front Control OIC must inform the Shift Commander when a visitor is bringing such items into the institution. The Shift Commander may elect to make alternate arrangements (e.g. separate visiting area) based upon the type of medical items being brought into the institution.

    Visitors with infants shall be permitted to bring one (1) clear plastic baby bottle into the institution. The contents of the bottle may include only milk, juice or water.

    All other items will be locked in the visiting lockers available in the Front Control Lobby, (i.e., wallet, money, jewelry, cigarettes, purses, handbags, keys, etc.). The above applies to all visitors.

    Note: Be advised that smoking or any other use of tobacco products is prohibited in the institution or on institution grounds.

    A copy of the Institution's Visiting Rules and Procedures shall be made available to any visitor who requests one.

    Visitors are not permitted to bring any articles out of the institution other than those they came in with (see 1. above). The only exceptions to this are patient/inmate property items which may be brought out with prior approval.

    All visitors are required to lock their vehicles.

    Incoming patient/inmate property is not accepted from visitors.
    Property may however, be sent out via visitors. Arrangements for such must be made in advance through the Property Officer. The Property Officer will then, on the appointed day, deposit the outgoing property and the accompanying paperwork in the Administration Building Rear Control. Said property will then be taken out by the respective visitor.

    Bridgewater State Hospital has established visiting areas for patients/inmates to have confidential conferences with attorneys. These are located in the Administration Building opposite the Richardson Court Room (2 private rooms).


    The following procedures have been developed to encompass visits for patients/inmates who are housed on designated units within Bridgewater State Hospital in accordance with the patient's clinical/security needs.

    Infirmary - whenever a patient/inmate is in the Infirmary and a visitor requests to visit, security staff notifies the on-call clinician who, along with the Unit Charge Officer, assesses the patient/inmate for clinical/security issues to determine if the patient/inmate is capable of receiving a visit in the visiting room located in the Administration Building.

    In the event the clinician/Officer-in-Charge determines the visit would contraindicated by the patient's/inmate's condition, the clinician/Officer-in-Charge shall notify the Shift Commander. The shift Commander or designee shall then inform the family member that the request to visit is denied.

    Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) - Patients/inmates housed in the Intensive Treatment Unit may not have visits (except for attorney visits) unless prescheduled and approved by the Superintendent. Attorney visits for patients in the ITU shall occur as follows:

    • All attorney visits will take place in the ITU
    • The Front Control staff shall notify the Control Center and I.T.U. that there is an attorney visit for patient (name). A clinical staff member shall determine if there are any mental health contraindications to the visit.
    • If there are no mental health contraindications for the visit, the I.T.U Officer-in-Charge shall designate an officer to report to the Administration Building to escort the attorney to I.T.U.
    • The patient receiving the attorney visit shall be cuffed behind his back and escorted to a designated room to meet with his attorney. (The cuffs shall remain on during the visit).
    • During the visit the door may be closed with an officer standing immediately outside the door observing the visit at all times.
    • Upon completion of the attorney visit, the patient will be escorted to the strip cell and strip searched prior to being escorted back to his room.
    • The attorney will be escorted back to the Administration Building.
    • The attorney's name, time of entry into the unit, time exiting the unit and the patient's name are to be recorded in the I.T.U. log book.

    Visits for separate housing units are normally held in the Visiting Room during regular visiting hours.

    Attorneys who visit patients/inmates who are housed in separate housing units shall be held pursuant to 103 CMR 486 [486.08 (2)].

    Per 103 CMR 471 (471.10), accredited clergy shall be permitted to visit patients/inmates who are housed in separate housing units pursuant to the same rules as attorneys.


    Visitors shall be expected to dress and conduct themselves reasonably and not to engage in physical contact with patients/inmates that is excessive or inappropriate for a public place. Serious deviations from appropriate standards of behavior may result in administrative action such as warning, termination of a visit, or suspension or loss of visiting privileges.

    The decision to terminate a visit will be made only by the Shift Commander.

    At no time should anything be passed or given by either a patient/inmate or visitor.

    In order to avoid unnecessary accidents and also not to interfere with other visits, minors should be kept under control while in the Visiting Room. Minors in the visiting area(s) shall be the responsibility of the adult visitor and shall not be allowed to engage in disruptive behavior or the visit will be terminated.

    Visitors are not allowed to wander around the Visiting Room.

    Visitors should feel free to approach the Visiting Room Officer with any questions they may have concerning visits or request to speak to the staff member on duty that day, if available.

    No beverages or food will be brought into or out of the institution.

    All patients/inmates will subject to personal search before an unclothed personal search after each visit.

    At the conclusion of each visit, any contraband found on either the patient/inmate or visitor upon completion of said visit will be confiscated and an Incident Report will be written. (Disciplinary Report may be written if found on an inmate).

    Whenever a patient/inmate requests to use the bathroom while on a visit, the patient/inmate shall be required to return to his unit to use the rest room and the visit shall be concluded. The patient/inmate shall be strip searched immediately after leaving the Visiting Room per the existing procedure.

    Whenever a visitor requests to use the bathroom, the visitor shall be asked to exit the institution and shall be permitted to use the bathroom facilities in the Visitors' Lobby. The visitor shall be subjected to a personal search before allowed to re-enter the institution.

    Vending Machines

    • Vending machines with snacks and beverages are available in the Visiting Room. These machines do not accept cash but are operated with a debit card.
    • Visitors may purchase these debit cards at a machine located in the lobby of the Massachusetts Treatment Center.
    • Only visitors may possess/utilize the debit cards.
    • All food and beverage items purchased in the Visiting Room must be consumed in the Visiting Room.
    • Canteen vending machines are owned and stocked by an outside vendor. Any problems with the machines not working properly should be brought to the attention of a visiting room officer who will report it to the Shift Commander. The Shift Commander will report the problem to the outside vendor who will schedule repairs for the machine.
    • It is the responsibility of the visitor to report any monetary loss directly to the company in writing at the following address:
    Canteen Vending Services
    9 Normac Road
    Woburn, MA 01801


    • Date of loss;
    • Institution at which loss occurred;
    • Type of machine money was lost in (i.e. candy, soda etc.);
    • Amount of loss (no estimated losses will be honored)
    • Brief description of what happed


    • Refund requests must be in writing;
    • Refund requests will be processed with in 4-5 days of the receipt of complaint;
    • Debit Card errors will be processed within 10-15 days from receipt of complaint.

    DOC is not responsible for loss of money or food from the machine.


    Pursuant to 103 CMR 483, no child who was a victim of the patient/inmate's offense shall be authorized to visit without the authorization of the Commissioner or a designee.

    Except as noted in A. above, patients/inmates shall be permitted to receive visits from minors provided the minors are accompanied by their parents or legal guardians. A birth certificate which lists the minor's parents must be produced for all minors when reporting to the institution to visit. Legal guardians must also authenticate their status by producing legal documents which name them as the minor's guardians.

    In the event a minor is to visit accompanied by an adult other than his/her parent or legal guardian, advance permission must be obtained from the Superintendent by completing a Request for Visit by a Minor Application (see Attachment III).

    The Request for Visit by a Minor Application must be filled out completely by the parent or legal guardian. The following information must be included:

    • name of parent or legal guardian making request;
    • name of patient/inmate;
    • minor's name, relationship to patient and date of birth;
    • parent or legal guardian's relationship to minor;
    • parent or legal guardian's relationship to patient/inmate;
    • name of person that the parent or legal guardian is authorizing to accompany the minor on a visit;
    • address and telephone number of parent or legal guardian

    The application must be signed and dated by the parent or legal guardian in the presence of a Notary Public.

    One request for Visit by a Minor Application must be completed for each minor.

    The parent or legal guardian shall mail the completed application to the Deputy Superintendent of Operations with a notarized Birth Certificate for verification purposes. (This material may also be hand-delivered to the BSH Front Control).

    The application shall be given to the Correction Program Officer who shall attach a brief narrative description of current offense or criminal charges (including information describing the relationship of the patient/inmate to the victim of the crime).

    The request shall be submitted to the Superintendent for his review and decision. The Superintendent shall sign and date the application and forward it to the Deputy Superintendent of Operations so that the person initiating the request can be notified of the decision.

    Exceptions of Minors During Visits

    • Minors will be kept under control of the parent or guardian at all times. At no time will patients be allowed to hold said minor.

    • Minors shall not be allowed extended visits.

    • Minors will not be left unattended in the Outer Lobby Waiting Room or any part of the Bridgewater Complex grounds.

    • Failure by the parent and/or guardian to maintain control or minors during visits may result in the loss of visiting privileges at Bridgewater State Hospital.


    No one may visit a patient/inmate temporarily confined in an outside hospital (other than the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Correctional Unit) without the prior permission of the Superintendent of the correctional institution from which the patient/inmate was sent to the hospital.

    An outside hospital visit may be authorized by the Superintendent if the patient/inmate is determined by the attending physician to be at risk of imminent death and/or any other extraordinary circumstances.


    Any patient/inmate who wishes to request a special visit for reasons due to family emergency, extended travel distance to the institution, etc. may make his request to the Superintendent in writing. Patients/inmates may also make such requests to the Superintendent at the staff access period during the noon meal in the dining hall.