Guide Visiting an inmate in a Massachusetts Prison

We recognize the importance visitors have on an inmate's well-being, successful reentry into the community, and strongly encourage family reunification. While offering visiting privileges to inmates, the department is also committed to ensuring the safety of all public, staff, visitors and inmates throughout the Massachusetts Department of Correction. We welcome visitors to come to our facilities, and want to make your visiting experience pleasant and secure for everyone. Please use the information in this guide as you visit an inmate in a Massachusetts Department of Corrections prison.

Table of Contents

Before You Visit

Pre-Approved List Make sure your loved one has added you

Before visiting, please ensure your loved one has added you to their pre-approved visiting list. It is their responsibility to notify the institution as to whom may visit them by submitting each visitor's name.

  • Fill out a Visitor Application Form, found in the key actions below this section. Once completed please mail this form to the specific institution you intend to visit. Mailing addresses may be found on the third page of the application or on the Prison Locations Page. The Visitor Application will be processed, you and the inmate will be notified of approval or denial.
  • Review the institution's visiting hours. They may be found on our Prison Locations Page. Visiting hours are subject to change, you may call the institution to verify.
  • Review the institution's specific visiting procedures.
  • Review the dress code and allowable items list.
  • You must have a valid photo ID. These include:
    • State driver’s licenses
    • Passports
    • Military ID
    • Official photo ID cards that originate from any state or federal agency, including government employee ID cards and Immigration/Customs Enforcement documents.

Pre-Approval

Exceptions may be made Upon inmate's request and the Superintendent's approval

Generally, all visitors must be PRE-APPROVED prior to visiting any inmate. Depending upon the security level of the institution housing the inmate, the maximum number of pre-approved visitors varies. 

  • Maximum Security - 8 visitors
  • Medium Security - 8 visitors
  • Minimum Security/Pre-release - 10 visitors

Note: Exceptions may be made to exceed this number, upon request from the inmate and with the written approval of the Superintendent. 

Child Visitors

No Pre-approval Required

Minors, or children under the age of 18, do not require pre-approval.

  • They must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian that has physical custody and who is on the inmate’s pre-approved visiting list.
    • An adult who is not the parent or guardian having physical custody of the minor must submit a completed Minor Consent Form and obtain the Superintendent's approval before visiting.
    • An inmate may sign the minor consent form if he/she is noted as the parent on the child's birth certificate.
    • They do not need to be re-submitted upon the inmate's transfer to another department institution.
       
  • They will need an original/copy of a birth certificate or of official hospital records verifying the birth of the child, the date of birth of the child, and parent information. 

New Inmates

Pending Pre-Approval May have 2 visitors and reasonable number of children

Inmates newly committed to a Department institution shall be allowed to have two (2) visitors and a reasonable number of visiting children pending the visitor pre-approval process. Inmates shall submit an Inmate Visitor Listing within thirty (30) days of admission to the Department.

  • Visitors who are added to any subsequent Inmate Visitor Lists shall not be allowed to visit until approved .
  • The two (2) visitors allowed to visit pending the approval process shall become inactive after forty (40) business days if not properly approved through the application process. 

Medication and Medical Devices

Must Be Approved Before visiting

If you are a visitor who uses life-saving medications or medical devices, you must:

  • Get prior approval from the Superintendent to bring these items.
  • Submit to the Superintendent written evidence signed by a health care professional documenting the need for such medication or device(s).
  • You are required to declare the medication or device(s) and produce the written approval from the Superintendent each time you visit.

Prior Felony Convictions

  • A visitor who is paroled or otherwise released from Department custody must obtain the permission of the Superintendent before visiting an inmate who is still confined.
  • Inmate family members recently released from a correctional facility may not be considered for visitation approval for six months following release from incarceration.
  • Other visitor applicants with prior incarcerations who are not immediate family members may apply for visitation one year after release from confinement.
  • A Superintendent or designee may reject applications for a visit to any person who has felony convictions if they believe that the security of the institution or individuals may be jeopardized.

Loss of Visiting Privileges

Your visiting privileges may be suspended or removed if you violate any visitor rules or regulations cited in the 103 CMR 483 - Visiting Procedures. You will be notified if this happens, including:

  • The reason for the removal
  • How long you will lose visiting privileges
  • The appeal process

Canine Searches

We utilize passive drug detecting dogs as part of the entrance procedures for anyone entering secure correctional facilities. They are used at random intervals to help detect the presence of illegal drugs entering the facilities. These measures help to decrease violence within our facilities and will have a positive impact on staff and inmate safety overall. Everyone is subject to a drug detection dog search to include visitors, volunteers, correctional staff, contractors, etc.

These dogs, generally Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers, are used because of their inherently gentle natures. They are always on a leash and handled by trained personnel, who will walk them past the line of visitors. They have been carefully trained to detect the presence of drugs by smell and to alert their handlers to that detection by sitting down.

  • Visitors with dog allergies, who are concerned about their brief exposure, may make alternate arrangements with prior approval of the Superintendent by providing documentation from their medical provider.
  • If the dog does not alert to the presence of drugs, the individual(s) can then proceed into the facility following the search.
  • If the dog does alert to the presence of drugs, the visitor will be asked to step out of line and consent to a search by correctional staff. 
    • If the visitor refuses, they will not be allowed to visit the inmate and must leave the facility.
    • If drugs are found, the individual will be barred from visiting DOC facilities and may be subjected to criminal prosecution.
    • Barred visitors may seek a review or reconsideration of their bar from the Facility Superintendent, in accordance with the current Visiting Procedure regulation.

The below link is to a video demonstration of these procedures, using one of our actual dogs. 

Additional Resources for Canine Searches

Resources for Family and Friends of Inmates

For other helpful information such as finding an inmate, contacting an inmate, depositing money to an inmate, program and reentry services, etc, please use the link below.

Additional Resources for Resources for Family and Friends of Inmates

Visiting Policy & Updates

Please use the links below to review the Visiting Policy and any updated information.

Additional Resources for Visiting Policy & Updates

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