In most cases, family and friends of offenders in Department of Corrections are able to visit during set hours on weekends. The number, length and schedule of visits can vary by facility because of different capacities to host visiting. Weekends may be designated for immediate family members only (spouse, children, parents, brothers or sisters, grandparents and step relations) or one individual of choice (a significant/designated other, such as a close friend), and visitors may only visit during one visiting period each day. Unforeseen security problems may interfere with visiting, causing delayed, shortened or suspended visits. This is unusual but does occur on occasion. Because the diagnostic and treatment centers have structured programming and activities, visits are limited to specific days and times.
Every offender who is not in the diagnostic process or a treatment program is allowed to have a maximum of 20 visitors on their approved visiting list. Because this number is limited, the offender makes the selection and may make changes twice each year during designated periods. In order to be considered for offender visitation, the prospective visitor must complete the visitor application thoroughly and honestly, as failure to do so may result in denial of visiting privileges. Once completed, the form should be returned to the institution where the offender is incarcerated; do not send it to the offender.
A complete criminal history check is conducted on all prospective visitors. Once a background check has completed and no problems have been identified, the visitor may be added to the visiting list. The offender will receive notification advising them of the status and they are responsible for notifying the visitor of the decision. A visitor may only be on only one offender’s visiting list unless verified as an immediate family member of more than one offender. Ex-offenders may or may not be approved to visit depending upon their criminal history, release status and mandatory approval from their supervising probation and parole officer. Additional information, such as a marriage license or birth certificate, may be required before final visitor approval is granted. Please don’t attempt to visit until you are notified by the offender that you have been officially approved.
Required Identification for Visit
All adult visitors are required to show a valid photo identification card, such as a current driver’s license or Department of Revenue identification card. Visitors age 13 years and older are required to show a current school photo identification card that includes their name, or a valid federal or state government-issued identification card before admission to the visiting area. Visitors under 18 years old, unless married to the offender, must be accompanied by an authorized adult visitor.
Search of Visitors
In an effort to provide a safe and secure environment in which you and your family may visit, general searches of visitors are conducted. A metal detector may be used to detect weapons or other contraband. This may be completed by a walk-through metal detector or a hand-held wand, which is waved near the body. Because the department maintains a zero tolerance policy regarding all illegal substances and introduction of contraband, staff may also ask you to submit to an Itemizer search. When tested with the Itemizer, the visitor will be given a towelette and asked to wipe it over their shirt front, pockets and palms of their hands. The towelette is then placed directly into a machine that immediately detects any possible traces of narcotics or explosives.
Allowed Items at Visit
Only coins for use in the vending machines and specific medical and infant supplies are allowed during visits. Gum, wallets, purses and other items may not be brought to visits. Missouri State Statute 217.360 states that it is a criminal offense for any individual entering a correctional facility to bring in drugs, alcoholic beverages, any article an offender is not permitted to possess or firearm that may be used to endanger the safety and security of the facility, staff or other offenders. Doing so may be a felony and can carry a punishment of up to 15 years in prison. It is important to remember that when visiting you are required to abide by the department’s rules and regulations. When you enter prison grounds, you, your packages, your children and your vehicle are subject to search. Small lockers are available at most institutions to store your purses, wallets or keys, if necessary, however, it is requested you bring only necessary items and secure the rest in your vehicle.
Coins may be brought in a clear sandwich bag or transparent plastic pouch for use in the vending machine. Medications or medical equipment needed to maintain life, such as nitroglycerin, insulin and insulin supplies, oxygen or asthma inhalers, may be taken into the facility in their original container and only in the necessary dosage for the visiting period. You should notify staff upon your arrival of the need for medication during visitation. If you have special medical equipment, such as a walker, wheelchair or surgically implanted metal hardware, you should provide a physician’s statement. Notice should be made in advance to the case manager to ensure staff are aware of your needs. Sanitary supplies are available in the restroom at a minimal fee.
When you bring a small infant or child, one clear carry-all for infant supplies is allowed. This bag may contain up to six diapers, one blanket, three clear plastic bottles of prepared infant beverage, one clear plastic no-spill toddler cup, three unopened vendor containers of baby food, one plastic pacifier, teether and/or rattle, one small plastic spoon and one unopened package of baby wipes. These items may be searched. It is also important that you maintain direct control of your children at all times to ensure their safety and to prevent interruption of other visits. If children are unruly or disruptive, the visit may be terminated.
Required Dress Code
Clothing should not be tight, transparent or revealing. It should not display gang, racial, inappropriate or inflammatory language or symbols and may not have a camouflage design. Skirts, dresses and shorts may be no shorter than two inches above the top of the kneecap. Wrap-around or slit skirts or dresses are not permitted. Holes or slits are not permitted in pants. Shirts, blouses and tops must cover the chest and stomach and have sleeves that cover the shoulders, without display of cleavage or midriff. Appropriate undergarments and shoes must be worn at all times. Undergarments with wire or metal supports are discouraged because you may be required to clear a metal detector. No headwear is allowed except for verified religious purposes and is subject to search.
Physical Contact During Visits
Physical contact is limited to preserve order in the visiting room and to ensure other visitors and children are not offended by open displays of affection. One greeting and departing embrace and brief kiss is allowed. The only other physical contact permitted is holding hands. While sexual offenders have strict physical contact restrictions, other offenders may be allowed to have children six and under sit on their lap. Offenders should not be left alone with a child without the adult visitor present. If you fail to abide by these rules, the visit is subject to termination and possible suspension of visiting privileges.
Restrictions on Visiting Privileges
Visiting an inmate is a privilege that can be limited or suspended. Failure to follow visiting rules, such as excessive physical contact, refusal to submit to search, use of alcohol or narcotics, unacceptable language, improper dress, presenting risk to the safety and security of the facility, staff, offenders or visitors, participation in illegal activities and/or violations of Missouri law, may result in having visiting privileges suspended, being barred from the institution, or being placed on non-contact visiting status. If visiting sanctions are imposed on a visitor, the institution will send a written notice outlining the infraction and sanctions imposed. A visitor may appeal visiting restrictions in writing to the appropriate deputy division director in Central Office at 2729 Plaza Dr., Jefferson City, MO 65109.